Bayern Munich’s work ethic is not questioned in the musings ahead; however there are improvements needed despite the positive start to the season. Before the “you are too negative” crowd comes for me, remember that there is always room for improvement even for the very best. Even Hansi Flick’s all-conquering team was defensively finnicky and needed improvements as we found out the following season. So, here we go:
The draw against Gladbach was just about acceptable
Gladbach is a bogey team and Bayern has a tendency to drop points against the Foals. However, this draw was a bit different. The biggest positive was that Bayern found a late goal to secure a point. Nonetheless, although Yann Sommer had a historic performance that day, too many attempts were too close to him, including Sadio Mané’s two attempts back-to-back. Bayern’s accuracy in front of goal needs to improve. It is a minor critique because the overall performance was fantastic. Yet, I would argue that when Keylor Navas stopped Bayern against PSG in the 2-3 defeat in the Champions League in 2021, that was a stellar goalkeeping performance compared to Yann Sommer’s fantastic but more par-the-course game.
The draw against Union was not okay
The game ended 1-1 once more and it is really difficult to gain points against Union at der Alten Försterei. That is not an excuse for Bayern’s rather poor xG in that game. Tactically, Union crowded the middle and double-teamed on both Alphonso Davies and Kingsley Coman. This will happen again and again; Union did not create the art of defending and is certainly not the only team who will play like this. Bayern cannot use Union’s small fouls or their deep defending as an excuse to not be able to break them down.
Watch Liverpool vs. Villarreal in the second half of their second leg in the Champions League semifinal from 2021/22; it can be done. In fact, Bayern used to be very effective at breaking down teams like that with clever passes and using Thomas Müller’s vision. If Bayern had accepted the Villarreal defeat as par the course, they would not have gone out and spent so much in the transfer window.
A winger problem
A front four of Serge Gnabry, Thomas Müller, Sadio Mané and Jamal Musiala was incredibly effective at the beginning of the season. Bayern manager Julian Nagelsmann had to give Leroy Sané a start shortly after due to early season injury issues. That was the front four that seemed to work best; with Sané and Kingsley Coman, it is not as effective. It is not because Sané and Coman are not talented; Coman is perhaps the most consistent among the wingers — it is simply a question of combination. Perhaps, Nagelsmann should stick to a Gnabry, Müller, Musiala and Mané quartet, changing things up only one player at a time but not replacing more than one at a time unless due to injuries.
Chiming in on Leon Goretzka vs. Marcel Sabitzer
Marcel Sabitzer has had a brilliant start to the season. Goretzka is back and is chomping at the bit to get back into the lineup. Sabitzer certainly should not be benched and yet, for the big matches, Leon Goretzka might arguably be a better pick if the opponent sits deep. While Goretzka’s goal in the DFB-Pokal came against a lower division side in Viktoria Köln, watch Goretzka simply zip to the edge of the box by himself; this is what he can do. His raw firepower and his ability to go box-to-box makes him vital.
When Goretzka is on the pitch, it is Joshua Kimmich who has to sit back and arguably, when it comes to sitting back, Marcel Sabitzer does a better job of it than Kimmich. But, overall, Goretzka has more big game experience. A player’s contributions can be easily forgotten; Goretzka has a Champions League medal to show for his efforts.
The positives with the negatives
The first three Bundesliga games showed Bayern doesn’t really need Robert Lewandowski. Bayern demonstrated in those games that they have enough firepower to compensate for him. Julian Nagelsmann has the tactical acumen to play without an out and out frontman too. That being said, small warning signs have appeared early on and Nagelsmann can learn from these moments. The swashbuckling Bayern from the first three (okay, four — the Gladbach performance was strong) matches exists. The right balance is needed moving forward.
As always, let us know what you think and thank you for reading.