As Bayern Munich players go into international break, Julian Nagelsmann perhaps won’t sleep too well. This loss means Bayern goes into a string of tough games, having to fight in each game and put forth their best XI. Nagelsmann gambled today and paid the price. Here are my observations.
The line-up did not display enough respect for Leverkusen
Leverkusen’s run of form hasn’t been the greatest but they do have players all over the pitch who can hurt you, speedy wingers who can cause havoc unless his name is Moussa Diaby and he has to pass the ball (sorry, Diaby). The line-up consisted of Sadio Mané who is just coming back from injury and Joao Cancelo, who is not meant for defending but rather is better as an attacking presence. This line-up would be fine against Hertha Berlin perhaps but not so much against a strong Leverkusen side. Starting Josip Stanisic (who didn’t have the greatest of days after coming on to be fair) and Serge Gnabry as a striker or even starting Mathys Tel might have yielded better results.
Bayern felt Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s absence
If there is one lesson we have learned time and time again since Robert Lewandowski’s departure, Bayern really cannot play without a focal point. When Kingsley Coman cut to the by-line and tried to find a pass into the box, sometimes, there was nobody there. The entire attack seemed out of balance and that can be attributed to Choupo’s absence. Starting Tel might have yielded better results but it is difficult to tell what might have happened.
Leverkusen surprises with a Thursday/Sunday victory
A theme with Bundesliga teams this season and in seasons past have been that tough European knockout games seems to cause havoc with their next Bundesliga game. Yet, despite playing and beating Ferencvaros on Thursday, Leverkusen, for 90 minutes, played with the ultimate intensity. They played on the front foot this entire game, refused to sit back, pressed the Bayern back-line incessantly and took every chance they had to counterattack. Had it not been for Diaby’s poor decisions, they could have won by more today.
Has Leverkusen given the Bundesliga (and Europe) a blueprint to beat Bayern?
I am inclined to answer in the negative. The starting line-up for Bayern wasn’t the best and Leverkusen played incredibly well. Those two factors will rarely combine as few teams have the firepower to pull off what Leverkusen did today — consistently playing on the front foot is difficult to do against Bayern’s front line. However, when Choupo isn’t there, the team is significantly weakened and Dortmund will hope that he isn’t ready for Der Klassiker. Julian Nagelsmann certainly won’t underestimate any opponents moving forward.
Want more discussion about the game? Check out the post-game podcast! Samrin breaks down team selection, substitutions, big omissions for Bayern and Germany, and a look ahead at the Champions League tie against Manchester City. Listen below or on Spotify!
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