The last time Bayern Munich lost 5-1 away against Eintracht Frankfurt, just over four years ago, manager Niko Kovac was shunted out of the door the next day. Kovac had long lost the respect of the dressing room by then. Things are not at that terminal stage for Thomas Tuchel after Saturday’s debacle, however. Far from it.
Honigstein noted that Tuchel admitted that the coaching staff contributed to the on-field confusion by advising the players that Eintracht Frankfurt was playing with different tactics than were actually being applied on the pitch:
He also volunteered that some last-minute tactical instructions in relation to a possible change to a back five by the home side were both misplaced and ill-timed. As it turned out, Frankfurt played four in defence, as the visitors had expected all along. And talking formations just before kick-off, Tuchel suspected, might have needlessly diverted the players’ focus on more important matters such as application. “We weren’t ready for this game,” he lamented.
Tuchel’s public contrition felt genuine rather than a pretext to lay into his team, but nothing he did or didn’t do in the run-up to the game could fully explain why Bayern played so badly.
Interestingly, though, the midfield tandem of Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka became the target of criticism once again, which has been something that Tuchel has pushed to change behind-the-scenes and in the open at times:
From the first minute, they had huge problems playing out from the back and “exerting dominance and rhythm in midfield,” as Tuchel said. They misplaced the easiest of passes and looked so shaky at the back that Dino Toppmöller’s aggressive Frankfurt side threatened to score with every counter-attack.
Bayern’s imprecise build-up play has been a feature of their season, as has the inability of the Kimmich-Goretzka midfield partnership to offer consistent balance and protection at the team’s centre. Tuchel’s summer-window demand for a pressing-resistant holding midfielder appears more salient with each passing month.
Ultimately, Honigstein noted the following stat, which is still mind-blowing:
Frankfurt got their five goals from an xG figure of 1.5 — lower than Bayern’s 2.2. That wasn’t just a testament to their efficiency in Tuchel’s estimation, it also underlined the champions’ inability to defend half-chances properly.
For all the individual mistakes that plagued their game, such as Joshua Kimmich giving the ball away, Dayot Upamecano’s terrible positioning and full-backs Noussair Mazraoui and Alphonso Davies being all over the place, Bayern always had the numbers at the back to fix those mistakes. But, their manager noted in puzzlement, they simply couldn’t do so.
Can the group rebound?
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