When Bayern Munich dropped a 1-0 decision to Villarreal in the first leg of its Champions League tie, the squad’s performance was, well, pretty terrible.
The aftermath of such a performance always leads to questions — a lot of them. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest gripes fans had.
Managerial: The starting lineup
Manager Julian Nagelsmann rolled out his XI with a tinge of arrogance. The 34-year-old opted to use Jamal Musiala over Leon Goretzka, Dayot Upamecano over Niklas Süle, and Serge Gnabry over Leroy Sane, while also using Alphonso Davies. In addition, Kingsley Coman played as a right-wing, when it is said he prefers to play on the left side.
For as much as everyone — and I mean everyone — loves Musiala, it could be argued that a Champions League quarterfinal away leg against a pesky, veteran team like Villarreal was not the best option for the youngster to gain European experience. Goretzka is older, wiser and just better at that particular role in the central midfield right now.
Nagelsmann will get the chance to rollout this best XI on Tuesday with an opportunity fix things from the outset.
Tactical: Too many changes, yet not enough when it mattered
One of the good things about Nagelsmann is that he has show the ability to coach to the group he has available. Rather than marry himself to one formation or one set of tactics this season, Nagelsmann has been flexible.
While that is a good trait, the constant flip-flopping of formations and roles looks like it caused confusion and delay at times for the Bayern Munich players.
What was, perhaps, most concerning was how hapless Bayern Munich looked in trying to figure out a way to beat Villarreal offensively. The Bavarians simply had no answer and too often settled for imprecise, low percentage long balls or working for crosses that were often forced and inaccurate.
I’d expect Bayern Munich to have a much better idea on how to penetrate the Villarreal defense on Tuesday.
Physical: Star players were bad
Thomas Müller, Joshua Kimmich, Robert Lewandowski, Serge Gnabry, and Manuel Neuer were dreadful. Just about the only players who had borderline decent games were Coman and Lucas Hernandez — and they were not world beaters by any means. Musiala was nowhere near as effective as usual, Benjamin Pavard was poor, Dayot Upamecano was shaky, and just about everyone else underachieved.
Passing precision and accuracy were both bad, the ball was also like a hot potato at times, the shooting was not good, the defending was lackluster at times, and even goalkeeper play was subpar. Everything was...below the established standard.
Whether it was fatigue, a lack of cohesion, or some other reason, the squad collectively picked a bad day to have a bad day. For as easy as it might be to just blame the coach, the players should share in accepting responsibility.
It is hard to think the players will not rebound from a performance like that with a much better effort.
Mental: A complete lack of urgency
Whether fans want to admit it or not, professional teams do go through bouts of complacency. Against Villarreal, Bayern Munich played with zero sense of urgency and could not match the Spanish side’s intensity.
Sometimes a game just boils down to this: Villarreal wanted it more. Bayern Munich should be much more focused for the next match at home in the Allianz Arena.
For all of those issues above, Bayern Munich is still the better, bigger, faster, stronger, deeper team. With a few more days of preparation — and hopefully some rest for at least some of the key players — Nagelsmann will have his crew raring to go on Tuesday.
The spotlight will be on him, though. Fan reactions might not influence the Bayern Munich bosses, but if Unai Emery outcoaches Nagelsmann again, it will be a long summer for the Bavarian coach.
The manager will have to be better, the players will assuredly have to be better, and there needs to be some creativity offensively, defensive toughness, and a sense of desperation.
There is plenty of reason for optimism and most of that resides with Bayern Munich being at home and getting healthier by the day. The squad’s overall quality is bound to shine through brighter than it did in Spain.
Otherwise, it could be an untimely and premature exit from Europe for the Rekordmeister.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 2-0 Villarreal
It is looking increasingly likely that Bayern Munich is going to land both Noussair Mazraoui and Ryan Gravenberch from Ajax. The Dutch club is about to undergo what seems to be an annual rite of passage where it loses several key club figures after a run of mild success. Manager Erik ten Hag could also be on the move as Manchester United seems like it is calling his number.
When it comes to Mazraoui and Gravenberch, one will jump directly into the starting XI (Mazraoui) and the other (Gravenbech) will be on a slower, developmental burn, but could have the bigger upside of the duo.
If the moves go through, which one has you more excited?
Which potential Ajax acquisition has you more excited?
This poll is closed
Ryan Gravenberch - He has tremendous potential.
Noussair Mazraoui - Bayern Munich needed a player for the right-back/right wing-back position in the worst way.
Neither player is getting my blood pumping.
Bavarian Podcast Works: Weekend Warm-up Podcast Season 1, Episode 44
The week was sort of normal until Wednesday initiated a run of craziness.
Bayern Munich’s loss to Villarreal in the Champions League, followed the transfer craziness involving Robert Lewandowski and the Ajax duo of Noussair Mazraoui and Ryan Gravenberch really threw the latter part of the week for a loop.
We hit on all of that and more, so check out what we have on tap:
- Where Bayern Munich went wrong against Villarreal and how things could get better on Tuesday.
- The potential acquisitions of Mazraoui and Gravenberch and why I don’t get one of the moves.
- Serge Gnabry’s negotiations and who has interest in the Germany international.
- The phenom who just won’t commit to Julian Nagelsmann.
- A couple of other items just for good measure.
Song of the Week: “I Stay Away” Alice in Chains
When I think about the Grunge movement of the 90s, I mostly think about Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains as being at the forefront of the scene, along with Soundgarden. Alice in Chains floated somewhere in between Grunge and Heavy Metal because of its weighted tone, but it is crazy to think of how good the band was with Jerry Cantrell and Layne Staley at the helm. Staley, of course, passed away, but Cantrell and a new iteration of the band has kept pushing forward.
For this week, I wanted to throw it back to this classic from 1994 when I was pumped just about every time an Alice in Chains song hit the radio. Have a listen to “I Stay Away” and enjoy:
Haaland’s fees causing a cool down in interest?
About a month ago, discussing the future of Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland was all the rage. While the Norwegian’s future plans are still probably the biggest transfer-related story out there, the rumored fee structure for his move might have caused everyone to cool their respective jets a bit.
Manchester City, FC Barcelona, and Real Madrid appear to be the only serious contenders for Haaland at this point.
Bavarian Podcast Works: Preview Show — Bayern Munich vs. FC Augsburg
Bayern Munich will be looking to shake off its Champions League loss to Villarreal during its Bundesliga match against FC Augsburg this weekend.
Die Fuggerstädter will not be a pushover, but Bayern Munich will be looking to get back on track and get things figured out. Here is what we have on tap for the episode:
- A look at where each team is in the standings and why Bayern Munich should be taking this match seriously despite its relatively big lead in the table.
- A look at two players to watch for FC Augsburg: Ricardo Pepi and Niklas Dorsch. Pepi is trying to establish himself after a winter transfer from MLS, while Dorsch is the Bayern Munich Academy’s Prodigal Son, who needed to leave to give his career a jolt — and has done just that.
- An internal debate on “Rest vs. Rust” for Bayern Munich manager Julian Nagelsmann as he tries to select a starting XI. We gave our best guess as well.
- A prediction on the match.
Bayern Munich will have a chance to get on track this weekend against FC Augsburg, but the biggest question about the match is about who Nagelsmann will start in his XI. Will he rest his key players ahead of a HUGE match on Tuesday against Villarreal or will he use them (even on a limited basis) to help them get back to all of the good things they were previously doing?
The feeling here is that it will be a mix (some will get rested, some will start, almost all key players will get subbed out early) and that should be enough for the Bavarians to ward off a relatively tough FC Augsburg side.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 2-0 FC Augsburg
Other Bundesliga predictions include:
- VfL Stuttgart 1-3 Borussia Dortmund
- FC Köln 1-1 Mainz 05
- SpVgg Greuther Fürth 1-2 Borussia Mönchengladbach
- Wolfsburg 2-1 Arminia Bielefeld
- Hertha Berlin 1-2 Union Berlin
- VfL Bochum 0-2 Bayer Leverkusen
- Eintracht Frankfurt 1-2 SC Freiburg
- RB Leipzig 2-1 Hoffenheim
Free fallin’...yeah, I’m free fallin’....
Last Bundesliga Match Day record: 2-8*
Overall Bundesliga record: 129-123
DFB-Pokal record: 1-1
DFL-Supercup record: 1-0
Champions League record: 7-2
Overall record: 138-126
*Includes a midweek win for FC Augsburg over Mainz 05 as picked on March 11th.