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Three observations from Bayern Munich’s 2-2 UWCL draw to AS Roma

The FC Bayern Frauen have a loooong way to go.

AS Roma v FC Bayern München: Group C - UEFA Women’s Champions League 2023/24 Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Two late goals from Lea Schüller rescued a point for Bayern Munich in Women’s Champions League action against AS Roma today, but it was a far cry from the three points the Bavarians needed.

Paris Saint-Germain defeated Ajax 3-1 in the other game in the group, leaving Bayern’s hopes for qualifying hanging by a thread. After five matchdays the point totals in Group C are: PSG — 9; Ajax — 7; Bayern — 6; Roma — 5. If Bayern beats Paris on January 30, the two sides will end up level on points but Ajax will still have a chance to top the group with a win.

Here’s the outlook from the 2-2 FC Bayern Frauen draw.

Where’s the urgency?

You would be forgiven for thinking it was AS Roma, not Bayern Munich, with its back against the wall. Actually it was both: Roma started last in the Group C standings, but both teams had everything on the line in a tight Women’s Champions League group.

Bayern, though, played the way they have throughout the season: in control of possession, lacking creative impetus, and loose at the wrong times at the back. It took nearly half an hour to register the first shot on Roma’s goal. An entire second half spent chasing the game sure did not have many ‘chasing’ least not until very, very late.

At some point the defending Frauen-Bundesliga winners need to come out with a fire lit under them and play like the champions they aspire to be.

Midfield needs a rework

As some of our astute commenters have noted repeatedly, all is not well in the engine room of the Bayern Frauen. The match commentators noticed, too: that Bayern would pass it around for a while, then, bereft of opportunity, hoof it long in frustration. Not a recipe for goals.

A team that controls possession as frequently as the Bavarians must make more of it, with tempo-setting, stability, and chances coming consistently from the second level rather than hoping for magic to materialize in the final third.

The question is: how will the Bavarians do this? Do they have the pieces? Do they have the coach?

Perhaps the real question is: when will Bayern recognize it needs a change?

A bright future...?

Let’s not stay too negative. Bayern’s last-minute scramble for points showed there is a spark to be lit somewhere in this team, even if it is a matter of getting there earlier than later. And the bright young talent on the squad — including 17-year-old Alara Şehitler, making just her second competitive appearance for the senior team, and 19-year-old Franziska Kett — offers a glimpse at the future possibilities.

It is a time of transition for the Bavarians. Mainstays Lina Magull and Maximiliane Rall departed in recent weeks, and a new era will be ushered in. Arrivals in recent seasons — like Katharina Naschenweng, Tuva Hansen, Georgia Stanway, and Pernille Harder — have entrenched themselves already as key players. As far as Bayern looks like it needs to go, the squad is not completely unequipped to get there.

That process, from tactics to personnel to staff, needs to accelerate.

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