In a game that looked like it would be a slog, Bayern Munich triumphed as Thomas Müller’s opener gave the team in order to take control. Here are four observations from the game:
Goretzka’s role as a defensive midfielder might suit him more
Nagelsmann has strictly used Leon Goretzka in a very, very attacking role this season. The former Bochum midfielder definitely has some strengths in that role. However, in the absence of the suspended Joshua Kimmich, Goretzka lined up as a defensive midfielder in the formation, forcing him to drop deep and spray passes around. And he did very well.
Goretzka showed that he is capable in possession, progressing the ball nicely through Bochum’s press, but he really starred when it came to his defensive play. Unlike Kimmich, who regularly faces complaints about his defensive positioning and effectiveness, Goretzka completed his defensive duties to perfection, muscling players off the ball, filling the holes in midfield and proving to be an immovable object in midfield. No wonder Bochum recorded no shots at all in the first half and barely created anything the entire match.
Though, considering how Goretzka usually plays that attacking role and completely eschews this kind of defensive work rate usually, the obvious question is why does he not play this role more often? This could be food for thought for Nagelsmann.
Julian Nagelsmann is still figuring João Cancelo out
When Bayern snapped up João Cancelo from Manchester City, fans weren’t the only ones to be excited. Julian Nagelsmann absolutely loves versatile players and the Bavarians signed arguably one of the most versatile fullbacks in the world.
Though at the time of writing Cancelo has only been at the club for around twelve days, barely enough time for Nagelsmann to work out how to incorporate Cancelo into the setup, he has played as a right wing back, right back, left back, inverted right back and inverted left back in various phases of the game, consistently asked to do different things every game.
Today, Cancelo was simply a left back, but it seemed just a necessity in order to rest Alphonso Davies. It seems that Nagelsmann has not quite found that role he wants for the Portuguese in the system yet. And that’s fine. But it means we might see a lot more experimenting in the future to find the former Manchester City man’s perfect role.
Bayern triumphs without shaking off all the rust
To say that Bayern started 2023 poorly would be a massive understatement. The passing was terrible, the players acted like they had never met each other before, the intensity was terrible and nothing seemed to work. But Bayern has been consistently shaking off more and more rust per game since the restart of the Bundesliga, having cobbled together a two game winning streak before today’s game.
Today made it three wins in a row and Bayern continued the journey towards being that well oiled machine we saw before the World Cup break last year. The Bavarians actually started the match well, the passing was much better and intensity was right. But it was hardly perfect, either. The rust is not yet gone. Some of the attacking sequences were still sloppy, sometimes the players didn’t know when to play the ball fast up the field or retain possession and the attackers still looked a little shot shy.
If Bochum had not gifted Bayern a goal at the brink of half time, the team may have labored to find a win instead of comfortably easing to the three points. That’s not ideal before the massive Champions League match against Paris Saint Germain in just three days. Still, this is the best Bayern has looked since the Bundesliga restart and the hope will be that Bayern can keep this progress up.
Arijon Ibrahimović introduces himself in style
Most Bayern fans were introduced to the young Arijon Ibrahimović when he came on in Bayern’s 4-4 friendly draw vs RB Salzburg in January, where he impressed and scored a goal. Soon after that, Bayern officially announced that “Ari” had signed his first professional contract with the club.
Against Bochum, Ari came on to make his competitive debut for the Bavarian giants and though he couldn’t score a goal (despite coming close twice), he still was very impressive. The youngster’s movement was phenomenal, he held up the ball well, showed silky skill on the ball, and his effort on and off the ball was eye catching.
If Ibrahimović keeps this up, he could have a phenomenal career.
Interested in more discussion about the game? Fancy some analysis and a breakdown of the stats and tactics? Then check out our postgame podcast! Listen to it below or on Spotify.
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