Nagelsmann needs to go back to the drawing board
Bayern Munich’s coach is a brilliant talent, and I’m one of his biggest supporters. However, it is getting difficult to continue backing him with the same belief with every passing game. Initially, the starting lineups looked very sharp. These days, however, the team simply doesn’t look good enough to carry a lead into halftime. Something seems off, and yes, most of it is simply on the players, but some things definitely look like they need changing.
Sadio Mané looks completely isolated up front. Leroy Sané is simply not the same on the right-wing, but Julian Nagelsmann’s brain slug has taken over once again. The substitutions are simply appalling and happen too late in the game to even expect any remote impact. This team required Manuel Neuer in the opposition box in the dying minutes to salvage a draw against 11th-placed FC Augsburg. If that sentence doesn’t send alarms ringing at the Säbener Strasse, I don’t know what will.
Sluggishness will be punished
How long do you keep blaming the opposition keepers and the referee? Augsburg was simply the sharper side today and got the three points. Well deserved by all counts. Bayern Munich’s defense was sloppy, the finishing was really bad, and the passing was very sluggish. Joshua Kimmich is simply not cutting it in the middle of the park and hogs too much time on the ball. De Ligt takes too much time with unnecessary dribbles and is just too slow. Sané, and surprisingly Musiala too today, took a touch too many often and were trying too hard to perform skill moves and ended up dancing a lot but with little impact.
You simply cannot expect to walk over your opposition all the time. You either show bite and passion every game, or you simply bite the dust. Bayern did not ‘bottle’ this game... the game was never theirs, to begin with. The team deserved to lose, fair and square, Rafal Gikiewicz or not.
Sadio Mané has been poor for a while
Someone had to say it. There is something off with Sadio Mané, and this could perhaps be attributed to him just not being cut out for a role as a No. 9 or a false 9. He seemed way too isolated today, and sure, that is probably a systemic issue. However, what is simply UNACCEPTABLE is his really poor first touches, his terrible finishing after multiple beautiful through-balls from Mazraoui (who was brilliant) and Müller, and him getting bullied quite easily by opposition defenders.
Mané’s honeymoon period is over. He needs to start performing consistently, or he just risks getting benched more often once Kingsley Coman is back in the fray. Mané doesn’t seem like the player he was at Liverpool lately, and we can only hope that this is a temporary dip in performances. If not, Bayern Munich is in a pickle.
Lewandowski is sorely missed
It’s hard to keep pretending that everything is okay in robert Lewandowski’s absence because it simply isn’t. Gone are the days when a forward would simply just put a chance to bed instead of making an unnecessary extra pass. Gone are the days when Bayern was a legitimate threat off set pieces. Gone are the days when opposition defenders would get bullied off the ball, and not the other way round.
Of course, not much can be done to address this problem... however, other players should simply step up and accept more responsibilities, more roles. Bayern’s attackers should stop passing too much in the final third, and Leon Goretzka needs to stop taking shots. xG doesn’t mean anything if you are unable to score goals. This team simply couldn’t finish today, and the attackers need to keep it simple. Or, they get benched.
Mathys Tel is waiting. Kingsley Coman will be back soon. You either perform, or it’s off to the doghouse.
Dark arts lessons need an upgrade
Another recurring theme this season has been the opposition not being carded for atrocious fouls. Today, there was a moment when an Augsburg player bumped into Noussair Mazraoui late with full force, and caused the player to come down crashing, in what looked like a clear yellow. There were multiple such instances when things simply didn’t go Bayern’s way. Maybe the players require more lessons from the master, Lucas Hernandez. Maybe they just aren’t vocal enough.
Augsburg, on the other hand, made sure to complain about every call throughout the game. This certainly isn’t something honorable to advocate, but sometimes, you have to get dirty to win. And that includes making a show of harsh/clumsy fouls and making it easier for the referee to scoop up. So yeah, not something major, but something that could certainly make a difference.
Blueprint to frustrate Bayern?
There is a pattern that has emerged from the game in recent weeks, and you can’t say that after the first 30 minutes of the game, you didn’t see this coming. Sit back and defend resolutely, let Bayern dance with the ball all they want, then start pushing for a scoreless first half. Come the second half, press Bayern with high intensity, somehow force a goal before the 60’ mark, and then sit back and bunker down for the rest of the game. A win, or at worst, a draw.
This is a plan that we should expect more opponents to follow against Bayern in the future. Sure, Augsburg gave Bayern space in the midfield but had numbers in defense where it mattered. Gikiewicz was brilliant, sure, but so was Augsburg’s midfield and defensive block. Nagelsmann needs to figure something out soon since it sure seems like the team’s kryptonite is out there for everyone to see and replicate.
Both the coach and the team need to get their act together. Things are certainly going to get more difficult this season, especially considering there’s a World Cup to attend to midway.
If you want more discussion on Bayern Munich’s loss to FC Augsburg, please check out our Postgame Podcast where you can hear what went wrong, what’s been wrong, and how it might be hard to get it all right until the players and coaches get aligned: