The score was 1-1; Bayern Munich, at home, seemed to be heading toward extra time. And then, late in the game, an unfortunate defensive error by a young substitute led indirectly to a goal. After having controlled the game for long spells and arguably being the better side, the Bavarians — perhaps undeservedly — went out of the competition, failing to qualify for the last four.
The manager looked on helplessly. He was still new and hadn’t been able to effectively set his team. After all, seven months isn’t long enough for a long-term project manager to set his mark.
The score was 1-1 on aggregate. The young substitute was Alphonso Davies. The competition was Villarreal and the manager was Julian Nagelsmann. This is all to say that Thomas Tuchel has been in charge for three weeks (two?), not seven months. It is not his fault Bayern Munich sacked Nagelsmann. He is yet to find his footing. And more than anything, once removed from the emotions, Tuchel can analyze this game and apply those lessons immediately on Saturday when Bayern visits Freiburg.
- I thought Thomas Tuchel took a more pragmatic approach to this game. And I didn’t dislike it. Unlike against Villarreal, Bayern offered very little to Freiburg. A long range goal from Nicolas Höfler wasn’t really a chance Bayern gave away. While Bayern gave away the penalty, that error was simply unfortunate. Freiburg spent the majority of the game defending.
- Bayern’s midfield dominance was great to see; until the penalty, at no point did I think Freiburg would score. The penalty was almost a freakish and unlikely mistake that occurs when the match has gone on for too long. Thomas Müller seemed active as did Leroy Sané; only the final pass was missing.
- Freiburg’s bus will not be the only bus that will remain parked in front of Bayern’s goal. Freiburg defended a little too comfortably and Bayern ran out of ideas; Tuchel could have perhaps tried Mathys Tel up front to add more dynamism. Nonetheless, running out of ideas is not a good look for the attack.
- All three of Bayern’s substitutes didn’t really contribute to the game. In fact. Sadio Mané gave away the foul which led to the free-kick, which eventually led to the penalty. While the incident itself led to the winning goal, it is hard to fault Jamal Musiala who simply raised his hands to protect himself from the ball and inadvertently gave away a penalty.
- Decision-making from both of Bayern’s wingers today weren’t on point, particularly Sané. While I thought he had a good game, in one or two instances, if he decided to make an attempt earlier, he might have been able to find the back of the net. Sané has the talent to win games by himself; in a tight game like this, an individual moment of brilliance might have made the difference. Not everyone is Arjen Robben; Sané has the promise but is yet to show it, at least on a consistent basis.
- João Cancelo’s inclusion was almost shocking to me. He really didn’t do much to warrant a spot in the line-up ahead of Alphonso Davies come the Manchester City game. Sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić’s comments after Cancelo did not celebrate with the team this weekend almost seemed to give him a pass. Tuchel, a new manager at the club, might have felt under pressure to play him or might have done so out of his own will. If Cancelo performed well, one could say otherwise; however, Davies’ speed (and defending) was sorely lacking in this game.
- The sloppy errors that have been a feature of Bayern this year were there to see again today; those errors can be costly and they were today. Considering Freiburg barely put Bayern under pressure today, some of the errors appeared to be unforced. One of Tuchel’s main tasks will be to clean up Bayern’s game ahead of this weekend.
All in all, Thomas Tuchel will need time (certainly more than two games) to set this team up. The adjustment period has started and while Dortmund was promising, things might be a bit painful in the current period. While eyes will be on the board considering the nature of Tuchel’s appointment, let us not forget that Nagelsmann didn’t exactly exit in a blaze of glory. The new manager might surprise us, but, like Tuchel, for the time being, I am going to choose pragmatism.
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