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Four observations on Bayern Munich’s 1-0 win over FC Köln

This was not the game we had hoped for, but the one to be expected.

Photo by Rene Nijhuis/BSR Agency/Getty Images

In a game that could easily be used as sleep inducing for people with low-grade insomnia, Bayern Munich got the job done without much fuss. These are the observations for today’s game.

Low-battery warning, battery-saving mode activated

Thomas Tuchel aired in the pre-match conference his deep concerns about player fatigue. Faced with a razor-thin first team and with a Bundesliga game two days after the last international match, the concerns had their merit.

Enter battery-saving mode.

In a team performance that seemed to run mostly on the lower gears, Bayern Munich got the job done.

Very probably part of the manager’s tactical plan; the usual Bavarian energy was not on display today, and Gegenpressing was out of the dictionary, as the Bayern players were happy to let the opposition play with the ball for the sake of defensive solidity. Along with the three points, the fact that no player injuries were recorded was the biggest win of the night.

What is “Tuchelball” exactly?

It is surely hard to be Bayern Munich’s coach. Faced with an iron-willed and very influential honorary president, the highest goals when it comes to football success, and the fan and board expectations to not only win every match but also win it in style, the task of managing Bayern can easily be likened to the ball Sisyphus had to push up the mountain; eternally daunting. But Thomas Tuchel knew very well what he was signing up for when he displaced Nagelsmann mid-season and accepted the role.

In a first-half that had more tactical changes than the whole game would have substitutions (what was up with that?) Bayern Munich managed to create enough goal-chances, while staying solid in the back and winning the game by a narrow margin. It wasn’t pretty, but Tuchelball doesn’t seem to care about that. Focused on direct passing, fast switches of play, and effective counter-attacking, Bayern managed to get the win. In itself, no achievement against a relegation-challenged Köln team, but another three points won and still unbeaten in the Bundesliga nonetheless.

That seems to be Tuchelball’s essence: do whatever is necessary to win, and maybe, just maybe, that is what Bayern has missed against top teams at times. Tuchelball and its disregard for possession-based football in favor of pace and counter-attacks may prove to be Bayern Munich’s rise, but just as the ball of Sisyphus, so too its demise.

The 100 million euro patchwork or just a work in progress?

Today was another one of those days we know so well. Bayern Munich forwards put on a vintage Stormtrooper cosplay without the suits. The game ended 1-0, but the xG would be 3.13 to 0.47 in favor of Bayern. Missing so many clear-cut chances has been a classic Bayern feature since Lewandowski left the club. That is why Bayern Munich decided to break the bank for Harry Kane and has so far reaped all of its rewards.

Just by being at the right time in the right place, Kane scored his 18th Bundesliga goal of the season and secured us the win. Lucky? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely. If it weren’t for Kane’s goal, this game could have surely ended in a goalless draw. Even though Kane acted more as a playmaker today and created more chances that he had opportunities to score himself, Bayern’s forwards managed to keep the score at 1-0 with the help of a very inspired Schwäbe. Is Kane the definitive solution to our goalscoring problems, or is he just an expensive patchwork for bigger attacking problems?

A Müller-sized Problem

After the lineups were announced, in almost every Bayern Munich fan’s mind arose the question: Where is Thomas Müller? In the face of Jamal Musiala’s injury, it is almost official now that the Bavarian legend has been reduced to a bit-time player. This in itself is nothing new, as it seems every new Bayern Munich coach since Jupp Heynckes has to go through the passage where he inevitably tries to make do without Müller and either gets sacked or gives in and adapts to the fact that Müller deserves more minutes. But with the passing years, the question that arises this time around is a lot more bitter in nature. Is Müller too old to play for Bayern Munich? His pure goal contribution stats seem to say otherwise. Seven goal contributions (3G and 4A) in around 500 played minutes show that the Raumdeuter is as effective as ever when on the pitch. Has his stamina deteriorated so much?

Is Thomas Tuchel seeing something that everybody else is not? Wouldn’t the coach play one of his most effective players when faced with such inefficiency in front of goal?

For now, the fact that Bayern keeps continually winning has toned these questions down, but eventually they will only get louder if the wins stop coming. Müller-Mafia is patiently lurking in the shadows.

What did you think of today’s game? Let us know about your opinions and observations in the comments down below.


Looking for more thoughts and analysis from Bayern Munich’s win over FC Köln? Then check out our newest podcast episode! Listen to it below or on Spotify.

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