Another Women’s Champions League campaign ends in tatters for Bayern Munich. Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Paris Saint-Germain was an emotional roller-coaster — a flurry of late goals, a see-saw of changes in the standings, and in the end a familiar result: the Bavarians losing out on the result they needed.
Twice Bayern scored and looked en route to the knockouts, and twice PSG came back. Now the Frauen must pick up the pieces.
Loss of focus strikes again
Cheap giveaways, concentration lapses, and needless concessions. After Bayern scored their first goal near the end of the first half, PSG looked rattled and the Bavarians looked in the ascendancy. What happened? The same thing that always happens: Bayern fails to put the game away and sooner or later, the opposition finds their way back.
By the time the game got to the wild finish stage, both sides were gassed and chaos ruled the day.
Put the “attack” back in “counter-attack”, please
Outside of those moments of chaos, how does Bayern attack? That question is getting hard to answer. The Bavarians had multiple opportunities to transition in the early going and squandered just about all of them before they got into the final third. A loose pass, dribbling into the defense, or slowing the play down until PSG had a chance to reset — Bayern found so many ways to snuff out their own danger. Outside of transition, the team resorted to a familiar tactic — trying to play in behind with a long, speculative vertical pass — but this has rarely been successful.
This team needs a more reliable pattern of chance creation, because their main avenues are not cutting it.
Bayern needs a total re-think
Bayern’s early exit this season in the Champions League should prompt a total re-think by (and perhaps about) coach Alexander Straus. The bench has been light, partially a result of the squad’s transfer exits, but it is not that light. Straus’ substitutions were late as usual, the first coming in the 85th minute; the second and last in stoppage time, and players such as Samantha Kerr and Jill Baijings — who might offer a change of pace in midfield, or at least the opportunity to adapt to changes in game state — have mostly sat on the bench all season. The pair have around 30 minutes of Champions League play between the two of them.
How many times must the same movie play out before Bayern turn to a different approach?
At this level success is as much about psychology as it is about talent. Now that Bayern has been dealt this Champions League blow, it is time to clear heads and zero in on the domestic campaigns. Sure enough, the Bavarians always looked just about on the verge of cracking under pressure in the UWCL lights. Now they won’t have that.
Can they use this adversity to spark a season turnaround? Stay tuned!