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Five observations from Bayern Munich’s deserved 1-0 loss to Villarreal

It could have been a much heavier loss, we should count our lucky stars it wasn’t.

Villarreal CF v Bayern München Quarter Final Leg One - UEFA Champions League Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

For previous losses, Bayern Munich could count themselves unlucky due to refereeing decisions, individual mistakes and other general bad luck.

Not this time.

The team was thoroughly outclassed by Villarreal. From top to bottom. Their defense was on top of our attack. Their midfield dominated ours. Their attack made our defense sweat throughout. We simply did not do the same.

Julian Nagelsmann’s lineups need a rework

As soon as the opening whistle went off, everyone was puzzled as to why Kingsley Coman is on the right while Serge Gnabry is on the left. Rightfully so. What was Julian Nagelsmann thinking doing this?

Even later on, the refusal to substitute off Alphonso Davies after an extremely poor showing was just madness. Nagelsmann still does not have a fixed lineup or even a general idea of who goes where. This needs to change pronto.

Alphonso Davies’ comeback was less than impressive

Alphonso Davies was a pedestrian today. He was completely pocketed by Juan Foyth, not dribbling past him once, while on the other hand Foyth always managed to scrap his way past Davies. Foyth even outpaced Davies on occasion, which just should not be happening. The most disappointing part was that despite it not working the first half dozen times, Davies continued to try the same thing until the last ten minutes or so of the game, continuing to play the exact same way.

One positive: an excellently blocked shot when Giovani Lo Celso found himself with space to shoot inside the box near the middle of the game.

Robert Lewandowski was persona non grata

Poor Robert Lewandowski. When he dropped deep to collect the ball, the defense decided to play it long. When he stayed near the last line, the ball just would not progress. He seemed cursed this game. Barely got a shot in. It is a fault of Nagelsmann’s system too as this simply does not happen to players like him. Whenever he got the ball he was super productive, always playing it extremely well with his usual heel flicks and final balls but his partners just could not do anything in the final third. A poor attacking performance, and it started with the tactics shackling Lewandowski.

Serge Gnabry is not Leroy Sané

Serge Gnabry started on the left. An objectively horrible decision from Nagelsmann. The kind that makes every single fan shout at their screen. We would find out later on that Gnabry was being used in a Leroy Sané-esque role, dropping into the hole in midfield to collect the ball and progress while Davies provides width on his flank.

This did not work. Gnabry just is not the same player as Sané. Sané has a different presence altogether. His dribbling is way beyond what Gnabry is capable of, his passing vision is something else altogether, they have different preferred feet (Gnabry prefers his right, Sané prefers his left) causing weird passing angles that usually aren’t as difficult, Sané is much faster than Gnabry and tangentially, contributes a lot more to defending against counter-attacks: something that would prove an important quality against this very structured but pacey Villarreal front line.

Lack of midfield cohesion

Tangentially related to the Gnabry issue was this. Gnabry provided less defensive and overall pressing prowess than Sané. On top of this, the midfield was less defensively astute and press-happy as Leon Goretzka was elected to be on the bench in favour of Jamal Musiala. This was not the correct decision, as Musiala simply did not give the same support Goretzka did when he came on later in the game. Kimmich pushed forward like he normally would with Goretzka in the team, but since Goretzka was not actually there, it resulted in no midfield presence behind Kimmich to cover for him as Musiala would always be in an advanced position looking for the killer ball. This left a gigantic gaping hole in the middle of the park which Dani Parejo and Étienne Capoue used to full effect, dominating the game. Nagelsmann seriously needs to re-think his tactics and how he sets up this team. We may win the second leg but we are in for a demolition against Liverpool if this is the level of tactics we are to expect from the team.

Looking for a more in-depth review of the game? Check out our postgame podcast. Listen to it below or at this link.

As always, we appreciate all the support!

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