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Three observations from Bayern Munich’s 1:1 draw vs. Villarreal

The Bavarians are knocked out of the Champions League, as Villarreal raches the semi-finals!

Bayern München v Villarreal CF Quarter Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League Photo by Helge Prang/GES-Sportfoto via Getty Images

Villarreal played a fantastic, well-organized match

Unai Emery showed again that he’s a top-class manager. He and his team made a huge surprise in the first match when they beat Bayern Munich 1:0 in Spain. Emery organized his team as they were defensively compact and also managed to take their chance in the dying moments of the match. There were not many stand-out performers on Villarreal’s team, and the whole team played as a unit, and combined with a bit of luck and good tactics from their coach, they managed to find themselves in the Champions League semi-finals.

Is a back-three working better for Bayern?

I know this is a tough match to judge a back-three on, but I think a back-three is a good system when Bayern is playing against a deep-sitting side. There was notable progress in Bayern’s game, especially after the first match against Villarreal. When the team can’t rely on Alphonso Davies, it seems that they are better fitted with a back-three, and are looking more secure. But Davies isn’t suited for a back-three system as a center-back, but more on that later. Bayern created better chances today and was honestly unlucky that they haven’t managed to score a couple of more goals. Thomas Müller alone had at least two or three goal-scoring chances. I think that both Julian Nagelsmann and the players are to blame for today’s result.

Nagelsmann made some questionable decisions today

Nagelsmann is a great tactician and is going to be a great, great coach, but today, he made some questionable decisions. First of all, why did he have to play Leroy Sane on the wing? At the start of the season, when Bayern played their best football, we saw Davies on the left-back, Sane on the left, and Serge Gnabry or Kingsley Coman on the right. Then, Bayern played a hybrid back three with Davies covering the left-wing, and Sane had plenty of space for his runs or passes, and there Sane worked best. I don’t understand why Nagelsmann played Sane on the right today. It rarely worked. When he has enough space to use his speed, it’s fine, but when he has to slow down and dribble his way through, it’s not working well. I also think he should have subbed him off today, maybe even at half-time. It’s a mystery why he let him play for the full 90 minutes.

Another mistake Nagelsmann made was when Gnabry came on today, he played as an attacking midfielder — why? Sane is better at that position, but I can’t wrap my head around why Nagelsmann insisted that Sane stayed on the right flank.

The third big mistake that Nagelsmann made was when he subbed in the Canadian left-back. As soon as Davies came on, Villarreal scored. It was a weird and unnecessary substitution. I’d understand the move if Davies came on instead of Sane. Then you’d have Coman and Gnabry on the wings, a back four, and would be safer from counter-attacks. Playing with basically two center-backs, and a very attacking-oriented left-back — it’s not a good idea.

All in all, Nagelsmann made some mistakes, and he needs to learn a lot from this experience. Also, Bayern’s players missed some sitters and could have scored more goals. Something is going on behind the scenes, and it’s not sure what it is, but I don’t like it. Some players are underperforming, and the team’s spirit is down for some time. Hopefully, there’s nothing larger in play — hopefully, it’s just something transient.


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