The water in VfL Bochum’s Vonovia Ruhrstadion smelt of blood, and the great white sharks arrived to feast. Bayern Munich came to VfL Bochum with the want, maybe the need to stamp their dominance and put back into their place a feisty team that had stunned them 4-2 in the previous season. The Bavarians did just that, slamming seven goals past a Bochum granted no respite — and it might have been eight; Sadio Mané’s goal was disallowed due to handball but his arm was in as natural a position as possible. It was a thorough demolishing and a real showcase of what Julian Nagelsmann has been building towards with all his tactical shifts in the last year or so.
Zen and the art of squad maintenance
This season is set to be the most match-congested in the history of football with a World Cup slammed slap bang in the middle of winter. As such, fitness and rotation are at the fore on every team’s minds.
Jamal Musiala was confirmed out earlier in the week, with Nagelsmann confirming that it was about minimising risks — and that if it were an important game, Musiala would have been fit to play. Serge Gnabry did play but was also held out of the starting lineup after an apparently minor wrist injury, and Alphonso Davies was a late, possibly also precautionary scratch. Still, Bayern reshuffled their lineup for the first time this season.
The team adapted extremely well to the changes, and I think it is paramount that the team learn to work together in these different combinations. As the English weeks approach — and midweek fixtures cram the schedule — rotation will be the name of the game.
Wingers all the way down
Two of the most prominent changes in the starting XI were the absences of Jamal Musiala and Serge Gnabry, with Leroy Sané and Kingsley Coman replacing them. Bayern didn’t miss a beat.
From the very beginning it was evident that Sané was switched on, and it only took him four minutes to get on the scoresheet, assisted by none other than Coman himself. These two would run the game throughout the 90 with quick passes, interchanges and especially in the press. The attack as a whole has really refined the art of quick bursts of pressing that force the opposition into making ugly decisions, and this went gangbusters today. I honestly could not pick out my man of the match today but both of these players are strong contenders. Coman may have it given for a goal and 2 assists as well as winning a penalty but Sané was as dangerous, with multiple key passes — even if some of the ensuing finishes left a lot to be desired.
The only real problem I had with this setup was that it left Thomas Müller stranded at times. As the full backs were not as aggressive up the pitch as usual, Sané and Coman had to drift wider to stretch the defense. With Mané dropping to collect and recycle play, this often left Müller alone and having to rely on his very patchy hold-up play to contribute and get involved with the ball.
The Finisher/Initiator strikes back
Ever since that fateful day where Serge Gnabry came off the bench against Freiburg and was meme’d on in our match thread only to score with his first touch of the game, he was christened with the nickname of ‘FINISHER/INITIATOR’, a graphic that was still displaying when he put the ball in the back of the net.
This game, Gnabry would strike from the bench once again, first playing a delicious through ball to Sané which would be deflected into the net by Bochum’s own Cristian Gamboa, before receiving a pass from Vidović only to shoot first time and score from a frankly unbelievable angle. That finish had me malfunctioning trying to comprehend the geometry of it! Suffice it to say, the FINISHER/INITIATOR is going nowhere.
Chains of the defenseless
I mentioned in an earlier article how I really wanted to see Joshua Kimmich unchained from his responsibilities as a screening midfielder. Today, I got to see just that.
With Marcel Sabitzer providing defensive support and the presence of more limited full backs, Kimmich was given license to kill, and boy did he go for the throat. His passes were simply put, magnificent. His balls over the top into the final third and even his balls from central spaces to the wingers — specifically Coman who was unmarked for large periods of the game — were a treat to watch. More of this pairing please, Nagelsmann!
A dominating backline, a dominating front line
Bayern Munich’s attack is better than ever. Their blistering goals bonanza is the best-ever start in Bundesliga history!
Bayern have scored 13 goals in their first two away games - a new all-time Bundesliga record— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) August 21, 2022
In fact, it’s thirteen goals whether or not you count the DFL-Supercup as part of the season’s start. And this could be by far Bayern Munich’s best start yet — their previous high-scoring season beginning was padded with an eleven-goal DFB-Pokal outburst. Robert Lewanwho?
Similarly and rather surprisingly, the defense has been just as rock-solid. The only goal Bayern Munich have conceded in the Bundesliga this season so far has been due to an individual error from Manuel Neuer. The defense has been practically flawless, with Manuel Neuer being the only real worry, as he has made individual errors in almost every game so far with his distribution. Neuer also made some questionable dietary choices, palming a mid-game banana in his keeper’s gloves today.
Overall, though, going forward and getting back — there just looks to be no stopping this Bayern machine.
If you want to hear more about Bayern Munich’s big win, check out our postgame podcast:
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