In a tough but well-fought game for Bayern Munich, the Rekordmeister won 5-2 against FC Augsburg in the second round of the DFB-Pokal. This marks Bayern’s return to the Pokal after two consecutive years of second round Pokal exits. While the excitement in the air is pretty high for what lies ahead, here are our takeaway points from the Bavarian thriller show.
Augsburg — just good enough to trouble Bayern
Bayern were not on the front foot the moment they entered the fixture — they were getting bullied by Augsburg physically, and surrendered the first goal. That seemed to wake the beast, however, and Bayern really started capitalizing on the opponent’s errors — five times! Augsburg were by no means spectacular tonight — whatever they did, it was only sporadic and they could not force mistakes out of the Rekordmeister all night.
Augsburg’s so-called relentless pressing was more hooliganism than anything else — they simply handed rough challenges and tackles like no tomorrow. The likes of Ermedin Demirovic and Florian Niederlechner often played pretty rough and with zero repercussions. The god-awful refereeing only empowered Augsburg — it was almost as if the referee was vehemently opposed to the idea of showing a card.
Sluggish, uncreative and worrying — is Bayern on decay?
The first 25 minutes were a nightmare — with Bayern showing no chances of even remotely winning the game. Augsburg were thoroughly dominant, and every other pass was either missed or intercepted. Defenders found themselves easily outmuscled and possession numbers were alarmingly low.
This was the reality of Bayern and it almost looked as though the Rekordmeister were gearing up for a brutal defeat like that of the previous year’s DFB-Pokal exit after the 5-0 loss to Gladbach. The worrying part is not the number of second round exits they have made so far from the Pokal — it is the sluggish, sleepy and uncreative football they end up opening games with that is more worrying.
Whether this phenomenon is a result of fixture congestion, or lethargy, or whatever be the reason, it has to be clear soon for the team cannot see similar performances ever again. The next team to grab an early lead on Bayern may not be so easily punished.
The persistent final-third problem
For a few games now, Bayern have not been very good in the final third. This can be attributed to the lack of a proper striker — bar Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting and perhaps youngster Mathys Tel, there are no real number nine players in the squad. While chance formation and build-up play are as incredible as ever with multiple lovely team efforts, what really brings Bayern down is god-awful output at the final third. Players simply lack the ability to finish and particularly attackers like Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane might have to pay special attention to really improve their finishing.
With Bayern leaning towards a striker-less system, this has always meant more contributions from the rest of the team — not just in terms of chance creation and ball progression, but also shooting and making attempts on goal. The players must therefore work on their skills at goal — as a matter of fact, Leon Goretzka has already picked up and made himself home in an advanced role on the team, pushing forward along with the attack.
Red-hot streak, taken in turns
It is undeniable that Bayern’s roster is glittered with stars and big players who rise to the occasion. As injuries and illness decimate the roster, everyone is taking the chance to shine.
Choupo-Moting has been lethal at goal in nearly every single outing of his, this season and deservedly has a starting spot in the XI. Thomas Muller does Thomas Muller things — shows up for a limited period of time, makes the highest possible impact and goes off again, Jamal Musiala single-handedly making the offense looking magical with Musiagic™, Sadio Mane provides the much-needed veteran savvy on pitch and so on. Today, it was truly Alphonso Davies who stole the show for Bayern.
His pace, contributing to both attacking and defensive motions and his sheer skill make him the world-class left-back that he is. Bayern would truly not be the same without him, and this game wouldn’t have been Bayern’s to win if it weren’t for him.
One can only hope and pray that our injury crisis dies down very soon because while it is exciting to see what the team can do week in and week out, one can only imagine how fearsome and thrilling an uninjured Bayern side would be!
As always, we appreciate all the support!