Blink and you would’ve missed that Bayern Munich and FC Copenhagen played a game of football. Bayern Munich had not lost or even drawn a game in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League since October of 2018, and the 0-0 draw against FC Copenhagen ended a five year long perfect record.
What went wrong?
From the Ground Up: The first phase of play
The team was fine defensively, but the quantity and quality of ball-playing and distribution from the back was a disaster. Bayern sorely missed the abilities of Min-jae Kim and Noussair Mazraoui this game, as both are capable of moving the ball forward in unique manners. On top of this, Thomas Tuchel inexplicably decided to put Leon Goretzka in the right-sided centre-back role, which is the role that requires an expansive passing range, while putting Dayot Upamecano on the left in a more reserved role. A simple reversal of the roles would have not only put the more talented passer in the more adventurous position, it would have also given some form of continuity as Upamecano has played that role throughout the season.
Furthermore, Copenhagen sat extremely deep, often ignoring the center-backs in the press. This was ripe for the defenders to carry the ball forward themselves into space and force a press out of them, which would open spaces in the middle for the midfielder. This did not happen, though, as the centre-backs instead waited for the midfielders to drop and receive. Yet another sorely missed quality Kim would’ve brought to the first phase of play.
Learning Curve: The non-midfield midfield returns
With the center-backs refusing to advance the ball themselves, the midfielders were forced to come short far more often. This was especially disadvantageous as one of the midfielders to start was Raphaël Guerreiro, a player simply not suited to the limited defensive role he was given. Guerreiro is an offensive player primarily, and this is just not the set-up to use him in. It showed when Aleksandar Pavlović came on and immediately more openings seemed to be originating from the middle where both players were comfortable on the ball. Furthermore, Joshua Kimmich’s passing today was just not on it. His ideas were creative as per, but his execution is simply not to the level expected of him.
Wave After Wave: Poking at bricks with a musket barrel
Bayern simply could not break down Copenhagen’s low block. While the issues in the first and second phases of play have been mentioned already and were massively influential in the lack of shots Bayern took, it’s still worrying that the attack look this toothless without Leroy Sané and Jamal Musiala. Bayern simply did not prepare in the game situations required to break down a deep-sat defense, and with no Matthijs de Ligt in the squad or Leroy Sané in the starting XI, there were no players willing to shoot from distance either. Just a bad day all around for the forwards, especially for everyone who captained Harry Kane in their UCL fantasy teams. The only bright spot was Mathys Tel, who consistently challenged the defenders for space and looked dangerous throughout the night, while also performing his defensive duties with no fuss.
Uneven Odds: Punishment pending
Complaints about the decisions of officials are childish, but there is no escaping it tonight. The match referee was nothing short of subpar, and the video assistant reviews were clearly motivated more by the backlash to earlier decisions than the actual letter of the law. There were two separate instances where Bayern were denied a clear penalty: one for a handball which was initially given and then overturned, and another incident where Thomas Müller was shoved in broad daylight by a Copenhagen defender before the ball had even arrived in the box. Poor decisions like this change results, aggravate fanbases and affect the reputation of everyone involved. Unacceptable.
What did you make of the match? What could Bayern Munich have done better? Let us know your thoughts in the discussion below.
Looking for more thoughts and analysis on Bayern Munich’s disappointing 0-0 draw with FC Copenhagen in the Champions League? Check out our Postgame Podcast on Spotify or below: