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Five observations from Bayern Munich’s lethargic 2-1 win against VfB Stuttgart

Table first is secured but...

VfB Stuttgart v FC Bayern München - Bundesliga
Never retire, Thomas.
Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images

Gone are the days of comfortable leads in the title race, for every second in the Bundesliga has become a battle. Bayern Munich, yet again, went into another Bundesliga fixture with their position in the table at stake. Facing VfB Stuttgart who are narrowly avoiding relegation and are highly motivated, right before Paris-Saint Germain in the midweek Champions League fixture certainly didn’t make life easier for the Rekordmeister but they somehow made it work!

Here are the match observations from Bayern Munich’s relaxed, yet adequate performance, winning 2-1 against Stuttgart:

Credit to Stuttgart, but Bayern MUST do better

Bayern were not truly pushing with their lives for the win — it was more a second-gear performance than the Bavarians giving their everything. A slower paced, yet steady attempt at attacking from the Bavarians was just enough to score two goals and evade die Schwaben for a while. But the moment VfB took control, they were ruthless. They pressed and played a high tempo game with the intent of using their defensive manpower to overwhelm and force Bayern into giving up the ball and making mistakes.

The Stuttgart defense (Hiroki Ito especially), managed to isolate and push the wingers to an abnormally wide position. The 88’ goal from Juan Jose Perea was a reminder that the Bavarians were not taking the game as seriously as it needed to be taken. At this point, the Bavarians had completely lost steam, looking lost and the pathetic last-minute conceding was clearly reflective of the team’s inability to finish a game off.

Bayern CAN and MUST do better.

Absurdity in attack?

Thomas Muller, the assist king, is the singular most important player on this team. It was Muller’s untimely substitution that signaled the sudden downfall of Bayern. There is quite literally no one in this team that can do the job he does. Sure, our players are world-class in certain ways, but does any one of them come with every quality in a single, incredible 1.85m package? I think not. This must be the logical stream of thinking everyone must apply when the question of substitutions arises. By said logic, we have arrived to the only proper conclusion that subbing off Muller is a cardinal sin.

I rest my case.

Jamal Musiala is a treat to watch and there is no player in this world other than him that can make me shed a tear. The footwork he exhibits is so incredible — especially in tight spaces when he is being marked by defenders. His chemistry with Alphonso Davies is nothing short of extraordinary and almost reminiscent of the famed David Alaba - Franck Ribery partnership, as several people have pointed out. My only complaint with the youngster is his inability/unwillingness to shoot. The shots he takes often come from a place of hesitation, making them delayed by a few seconds and as a result, ineffective.

On the topic of shooting, it is to be pointed the abhorrent output from the attack today in the final third. The runs were being made, there were fantastic crosses (courtesy of an in-form Kingsley Coman), the right passes were happening and positioning was just right, and yet, the goals never showed up. Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting was almost uncharacteristically quiet in the first half and if it weren’t for the beautiful goal from Matthijs de Ligt, the Bavarians would have left Stuttgart empty-handed. This is not a new complaint — the poor attacking output has been around for a while, it simply appeared and disappeared in cycles.

Kingsley Coman is a world-class winger and MUST start against PSG. His crossing has improved drastically and he is making the necessary, incredible runs. I have nothing but praise for King — he really is Bayern’s most in-form winger, apart from Musiala.

Leroy Sane, on the other hand has been an absolute disappointment — which is a complete understatement for just how underwhelming he has been. Serge Gnabry was simply ok — nothing too brilliant or noteworthy against his former club.

The Best.

Joshua Kimmich, my goodness. At this rate, he might simply be the best defensive midfielder in this world. His long range passing and shooting abilities are otherworldly and he is easily the main reason why our defense works. Leon Goretzka has managed to finally find his footing and I no longer can bash him for his rash attacking moves — for he’s now a more mature player who is playing the box-to-box role with perfection.

The defense, part I

The defense is a complex subject that I wish to break down into parts.

Davies, as mentioned earlier, is absolutely terrific, and his partnership with Musiala is drool-worthy. His ability to make the perfect runs and feed the attack with the right balls is what makes him one of the best full-backs in world football.

Matthijs de Ligt is a treasure and I am so incredibly glad, every single day, that Bayern got him. He is a defensively, incredibly solid centre-back but it is his attacking prowess that leaves me speechless every time. The absolute stunner that he scored is a classic example of what happens when you let such a talented player show his wide skill-set. As he evolves into his role here at Bayern, it is a joy to watch him dominate and excel in the backline. Dayot Upamecano’s defending will ensure you sound sleep every night — for you can blindly trust the Frenchman. He is simply that good.

That aside, we move on to part II.

The defense, part II — the great debate.

Among the greatest of questions, with the likes of “To be or not to be” and “Coke or Pepsi” is the question of “Stanisic or Cancelo?”

Hear me out.

Josip Stanisic offers stability in defense — he killed the Stuttgart counter on multiple occasions and offers a solid, reliable presence in the backline, whereas Joao Cancelo with his attacking prowess, offers an explosive right flank in combination with Kingsley Coman. Therefore the choice of starting right-back will have to be made with the respect to the game in question. Noussair Mazraoui’s presence certainly complicates matters, but a vast number of choices is a lot easier on the squad than losing full-backs to injuries and playing without them.

Miscellaneous observations

  • I rather enjoy Bruno Labadia’s Stuttgart, they’re far, far, better than Pelegrino Materazzo’s Stuttgart.
  • Julia Simic’s commentary is a breath of fresh air.
  • No matter how many bans the DFB puts on flares ... the end result never changes.

Interested in more discussion of the game? Then why not check out our postgame podcast? Check it our below or on Spotify.

As always, we appreciate all the support!

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