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Five observations from Bayern Munich’s arduous 1-1 draw with FC Basel

That was certainly something.

FC Basel v FC Bayern München - Friendly Match Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images

It’s been over two weeks without a Bayern Munich game but the German Rekordmeister were finally back in action for their first game of 2024 — a mid-season friendly against Swiss opponents FC Basel. The game finished 1-1. Oh, and it also finished the fans. Here are some takeaways from the friendly:

Joshua Kimmich’s return to right-back

Joshua Kimmich’s new mustache was (fortunately) not the only main talking point about him tonight — he started the game as a right-back. This shift back to a familiar position came with many expectations, but fans were surely left a little disappointed. The move back to RB was much anticipated and quite hyped as Kimmich has disappointed as a defensive midfielder (or a No. 6 in his own words) did not go as expected. Kimmich played a decent game: extremely high up (typical Kimmich), he tracked back fairly well, was present in attack, and made some nice passes into the box.

But that aside, he also played it pretty safe. There were positions Kimmich got in where a forward yet slightly difficult pass would lead to a big attacking chance, but he played it back (a growing trend). He was running around too much and didn’t have the impact expected of him.

All in all, it was an average performance from him — something similar to what we would see from him on a good day as a DM. While the shift to RB was mainly because Bayern lacked a single RB in the squad, fans should hope they do see Kimmich there again.

The U-shape was actually pretty good

A major talking point on the game thread was the U-shape Bayern played for the final 20 minutes of the first half which greatly frustrated many. It was detrimental to build-up, did not show a willingness to win the game, and a lack of players moving forward.

Fans criticized Tuchel for this football, but honestly, it was a pretty fair choice. First, fans need to understand that Basel played with a brilliant low block: all eleven men in their half for most of the game. No matter what the structure, it is very difficult to build up against such a team. They defended extremely well and Bayern players just could not score.

Why the U-shape? While it was passive football, it allowed Bayern to maintain control and create chances. More importantly, the defensive structure was not too compromised in the U-shape. It was also very clear why such a passive approach was preferred initially once Bayern started the second half with a suicidal high line. Fans saw how easy it was for Bayern to get caught on the counter and it also led to the team conceding the first goal.

Substitutions were meh - but it was a friendly!

Yeah, the initial three substitutions were shrouded in controversy as Thomas Tuchel took off Thomas Müller for Kingsley Coman and Matthijs de Ligt for Leon Goretzka. Fans felt both players should’ve stayed on and other, more underwhelming players like Leroy Sané should’ve gone off. But the simple answer is, it was a friendly. The substitutions were bad, but it being friendly, it is not something to worry about. Subs are a part of friendlies, so everyone gets a chance to play.

Yes, Müller should have stayed on after a third consecutive game where he made an impact from an advanced position alongside Harry Kane — but there were some frustrating moments from the Raumdeuter too. And de Ligt was just coming off an injury — it was better to rest the Dutchman (despite an excellent performance in the build-up).

The youngsters delivered!

Aleksander Pavlović, Aséko-Nkili, Mathys Tel, Zvonarek, Frans Krätzig, Benedikt Wimmer, and Adam Aznou (who came on later than he should have) — all delivered tonight. With the limited time they had, they put on great performances and were a massive (MASSIVE!) breath of fresh air for Bayern in the second half. Aséko-Nkili even scored on his first-ever appearance for the first team — a goal that bought Bayern the draw. Pavlović in particular made some phenomenal passes from midfield, which was amazing to see. Hopefully, fans get to see a lot more of these youngsters throughout the Rückrunde.

Reinforcements are needed, desperately

If there's one real takeaway from the game, it's that Bayern have serious work to do in the winter window. The squad was broken, and players like Leon Goretzka having to cover as center-back (he was so, so poor all around) is not the solution. A quote from Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (from the treble-winning season in 2020) to end it:

Hope you enjoyed it as BFW overanalyzed a simple friendly. What did you think of the game and our observations? Do let us know in the comments!


Looking for more analysis on the match? Check out our Postgame Podcast on Spotify or below:

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