WASHINGTON — A game of changes was on hand going into the match against D.C. United. Bayern Munich head coach Julian Naglesmann was fully willing to admit that when I asked him about his change in attacking style going forward.
Here was the full exchange:
Jake Fenner: “Yesterday you mentioned that Bayern’s attacking style in the past when (Robert) Lewandowski was here was a little easy for some teams to defend because a lot of the offense went through him. What we saw today was a lot more free-flowing, not as many high crosses into the box — it seemed to be a more direct style. Do you think this was because of the quality of opponent you were playing or is this something you hope to implement going forward?”
Julian Naglesmann: “As I mentioned we try to do a bit... things are different compared to last season because we knew if we did crosses to Robert normally it’s a goal. Robert is not here, we have not that classical big forward to score goals with his head. We have some players who have the capability to do this but normally we are better when we do quick movements, counter movements, one player going to the deep space, one player drop into the red zone. So it’s not that easy. It’s always important to do...to try to do...big distances between the defensive line of the opponent and try to go deep into their distances — and that’s not that easy to defend. We see for play as an offensive role a lot of players who have the capability to do this — the counter movements. Especially Thomas (Müller) is very clever in finding the perfect position — Sadio (Mané) as well. (He) only played one year at Liverpool as a central forward but he’s more than a number 10 — always dropping in the red zone. And also Serge (Gnabry). I think there are good link players in the offensive role and I think we’re dangerous enough to score a lot of goals in the future.”
On the subject of Sadio Mané, the gaffer seemed happy with the new signing. “Good performance,” Nagelsmann said.
Another debutant, Matthijs de Ligt had his night ended early after a collision. But the injury wasn’t too serious. “Nothing special,” Naglesmann responded. “He mentioned that the training this morning was very hot...I think tomorrow he’ll be fit again.” On his way out, De Ligt confirmed that to us. “Nothing serious,” the Dutchman said. “Just tired.”
As for the debuts of Ajax arrivals Noussair Mazraoui and Ryan Gravenberch, Nagelsmann said both players trained well over the past few days. Said of Gravenberch, “he’s so quick with his feet. He’s tall but he’s got really brilliant movement — great ability to get the ball in a pressure zone and try to turn towards the opponents goal.” As for Mazraoui, he praised his capability, “to find the best position,” adding that his ability to be comfortable in different places on the wing as well as the midfield will be crucial in the future.
Other topics discussed:
- On Alphonso Davies: “I think he’s getting better and better. Sometimes the last season we had kinda of problems trying to find the best position to play him.” Added that he’s trying different places on the field for him to be used for both defense and offense, in order to keep his fitness. Called him “one of the best wing defenders in Europe.”
- On the absence of Jamal Musiala: the player picked up “a small muscle injury”, but that combined with exhaustion from training kept him on the sidelines. Expect him to play some minutes against Manchester City.
- On the Bayern turnout: “It’s always brilliant to play in a stadium where a lot of fans are in the stands...In the end, we love to play in front of fans and today was brilliant.” Adds that even though football is not the most popular in the United States, “it’s always kind of a big event and I love this mood.”
- On his Barcelona quote from yesterday, and whether it’s unfair that Barcelona can sign these expensive players: “It’s not unfair. I don’t want to attack Barça, I just...what kind of a question (How can they sign so many players while being in debt)? I cannot answer the question, perhaps they could do it because they signed the players, I could not answer the question. I know nothing of the financial situation”
- On Marcel Sabitzer: “I think he’s one of the best players — at the moment — of the preseason so far. He’s more self-confident.” Said that new confidence was shown on the pitch today and in training, where he’s playing more progressive balls rather than back passes.
- On the upcoming match against Manchester City being the last test before the DFL Supercup: Rotating the squad gave the staff time to see the squad in action and after this match some players are, “a bit clearer some players will play a bit more minutes than today.” Adds that as of this match, there are no final decisions for the Supercup squad.