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Julian Nagelsmann expects VfL Bochum to test Bayern Munich with long balls, “brave” play

Bayern are flying high, but their coach won’t take anything for granted — not against opponents who have already proven how dangerous they could be to the Bavarians.

Nagelsmann walks away from a tactics whiteboard on the training pitch at Hoffenheim.
Nagelsmann and his tactics board, from back in his TSG 1899 Hoffenheim days.
Photo by Hasan Bratic/picture alliance via Getty Images

The last time Bayern Munich made the journey to the Vonovia Ruhrstadion, they were drummed out with their tails tucked behind their legs on the heels of a shock 4-2 shellacking. Head coach Julian Nagelsmann wants to ensure that doesn’t happen this time around, and he’s fully aware of the challenges the recently-promoted side will pose.

“Bochum played very bravely against us in both games,” Nagelsmann said in Friday’s press conference, as captured by @iMiaSanMia. “With [Manuel] Riemann they have a goalkeeper who plays a lot of good long balls. In the first two games he again played the most in the whole league. [Midfielder Kevin] Stöger is a very good signing and played very well so far.

“That means we have to be prepared for both long and short balls. I’m looking forward to the game and hoping for a different result than last season.”

Long balls over the top were at times a problem spot for Bayern, testing their individual quality in defense and occasionally creating moments of true chaos. Last weekend, VfL Wolfsburg tried these with ultimately little success — but all it takes is one goal to change the entire tide of a match. And after last season’s evisceration, Bayern know all too well that their opponents can conjure goals out of nowhere.

If Bochum go into this game with the same plan, it’ll be a test of Bayern’s defensive structure at the back — as well as their ability to press their opponents out of establishing any midfield rhythm. Of course, an early goal will also go a long way to easing the pressure, if Bayern can achieve that.

Two seasons ago, Bochum were fighting in the 2. Bundesliga, and now they’re trying to show they belong in the top flight. Head coach Thomas Reis has his work cut out for him, and a loss here would sink them — already in seventeenth place — to an 0-3 start.

But, as they say, beware the cornered dog.

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