Bayern Munich had to settle for a 1-1 draw after a tight tussle with TSG Hoffenheim. The home side were clearly ahead in creating chances, however they failed to convert them into goals. Bayern’s showing on the pitch has improved with strong performances from the wings, supplementing their core. Here are the observations:
Bayern repeatedly succumbed to the offside trap
Julian Naglesmann’s men were caught offside for a whopping seven times today, with a few shots even ending up in the back of the goal. Hoffenheim’s well sprung trap nulled several set-piece chances won by Bayern. Niklas Sule, Serge Gnabry, Thomas Muller and Lewandowski were all offside by fractional margins in crucial situations. Nonetheless, the set-pieces themselves were dangerous and Bayern could have scored at least a couple more goals from the dead ball situations on another day.
The wingers winging it for Nagelsmann
As we continue to witness the evolution of Nagelsmann’s back three at Bayern, the performance of the team being directly proportional to the overall performance of the wings is an observation that is standing out. The ability of the wingers (who were signed on to be attacking wingers) to play as wing-backs is determining the success of this back three formation, at least until the return of some unavailable members to the team.
Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane in addition to Kingsley Coman dropped all the way back to the defence line when out of possession to fortify the back line against Hoffenheim. This helped the team in absorbing pressure against a rapid Hoffenheim side. Gnabry and Sane each had two successful tackles, joint highest in the team with Sule and Lucas Hernandez.
The Bayern attackers are not new to pressing and defending but their usual area of effect is much higher where the stakes are also lower compared to defending in Bayern’s own third. A failed tackle results in one of three defenders being forced to respond leaving dangerous gaps in front of the box which has often lead to Bayern conceding goals. Minimising such occurrences will allow our defenders to stay in position where they are usually good at holding the line. Thus, greater defensive intensity and effectiveness from our wingers will make or break this back three setup.
A game of missed chances
Missed chances was the primary theme of this game. Both Bayern and Hoffenheim failed to seize their opportunity when it came — missing from close quarters, hitting the post or firing right at the keeper. Serge Gnabry and Andrej Kramaric missed the best chances for their respective sides with both attackers firing into bodies in front of goal.
Games like these are very finicky in that several of the missed shots were nearly 50-50 and could have gone either way. Depending on which of the shots went in, this game could have gone either Bayern’s or Hoffenheim’s way or even ended as a draw at a higher scoreline.
Muller and Musiala
Thomas Muller and Jamal Musiala are probably the two players most impacted by the back three. Muller has to contend with Sane, Gnabry, Coman, Musiala and Lewy for attacking acreage. The roaming Raumdeuter has found it difficult to thrive in the highly condensed attacking space and his performances show the same.
However, with the wingers now pulling back and staying wide more often, Muller finally has gotten the room to operate and his performances have improved. He was unlucky to not score today. Although, there is still some way to go for the vice-captain to return to his old-self, today’s game showed a lot of promise.
Jamal Musiala on the other hand has had to play along with Joshua Kimmich in central midfield in an 8-ish role, once again with a densely populated attack in front of him. However, the players complemented each other’s movements and Musiala had his opportunities to drift forward.
Musiala’s fleet footwork was under greater pressure in Bayern’s third, but the 19-year-old maintained his composure. Musiala had a 93 percent pass success rate, with 28 of his 43 passes coming in his own half. With two successful dribbles and three interceptions, Musiala’s contribution alongside Kimmich today is highly underrated.
As always, we appreciate all the support!