Bayern Munich was up against its traditional bogey team Borussia Mönchengladbach and many fans feared for the worst — and even more so when the Bavarians fell behind by a goal in the first half.
However, Bayern Munich eventually wore down Die Fohlen for a 3-1 victory. There was a lot to talk about, so let’s get to it:
- As always, let’s take a look at Thomas Tuchel’s starting lineup:
- Admittedly, I didn’t expect Thomas Müller, Leon Goretzka, or Noussair Mazraoui to get starting nods, but I did feel like they all should have, so it was a pleasant surprise.
- In 5th minute, Leroy Sané found himself wide open — a rare occurence in a game like this — but he hit the crossbar.
- In the 10th, minute, Müller fed Sané perfectly, but — again — Sané bricked on his attempt.
- The good thing is that Sané did not turtle up; he kept working and fighting.
- Bayern Munich was thoroughly dominant to that point, but did cede some control of the match after that. That first 10-minute period was pretty brilliant and creative. Overall, Bayern Munich played fast, tough, and with urgency. It was a great start to the match.
- Sané had a couple of unforced errors early as well. His movement and tenacity were on-point, but he was “off” otherwise.
- There was a lot of interchanging of positions in the attack, but things were most dangerous with Müller centrally.
- Later in the first half, Sané airmailed another shot really badly, but it was very clear that he was not going be deterred. Even on a day where his finishing was clearly off, it did not appear to affect him. Knowing Sané’s ability to get down on himself or lose confidence, his resilience through those moments was absolutely more important for the long-term of this season than the misses. I’m writing this as someone not always a fan of Sané’s streakiness and his attitude. The team, however, needs him to stay positive.
- The acquisition of Eric Dier caught a lot of heat, but he has been pretty good — and was cheap/free. The Englishman would go on to have several spectacular stops in the match.
- Kane almost put Bayern Munich up 1-0 on a free kick but a great save from Gladbach goalkeeper Moritz Nicolas prevented that.
- During a scramble in the 32nd minute, De Ligt and Dier had goal saving plays in front of Manuel Neuer while the rest of the team wilted around them.
- The Bayern Munich shakiness would eventually pay off for Gladbach, though. In the 35th minute a long, groundball pass from Neuer to Muller didn’t work out as Gladbach’s Nico Elvedi won the ball and was off to the races. After a nice one-two pass on the break, Elvedi fired a quality finish and gave Die Fohlen 1-0 lead.
- It was a big gaffe from Neuer to play the initial ball where he did.
- In the 45th minute, some nice work from Sané to Müller resulted in the Raumdeueter sliding a perfect pass to a darting Aleksander Pavlović. The youngster buried his attempt to knot the game at 1-1.
- The more we see of Pavlović, the less enthused I get when hear Tuchel talk about needing a No. 6. Like I have been all season, I am content with the current options Bayern Munich has in the midfield.
- The first half was impressive for Bayern Munich even though it was 1-1. It could have been 3-1 or 4-1. The passing, movement, and creativity was great for most of the half. Yes, U-ball did rear its ugly head (which, not ironically, was the only period where Gladbach made progress), but I generally liked what I saw. There is no reason to put it all on Sané, but he easily should have buried two of his attempts.
- I’ll say it again, Sané looks like he could benefit from a day off. With Bayer Leverkusen and Lazio ahead, though, the Germany international has no respite in sight.
- Musiala is just more impactful as a winger. The whole attack functions better with his ability to start wide and break down the opposition’s backline. When Musiala found himself attacking from central positions, his decision-making was worse.
- Sacha Boey made his debut in the 61st minute and did very well for himself.
- In the 70th minute, Goretzka lofted a ball in front of the net that Müller made an effort to head in. The ball was pushed out by Nicolas, and Harry Kane — in front of the net where he belongs — headed in the game-winner. The Müller Disruption Factor was a big key on the play.
- In the 86th minute, Sané lofted in a ball from a free kick that De Ligt hit with a thunder header for a 3-1 Bayern Munich lead to clinch the game. It was a great ball in from Sané and tremendous header from the Dutchman!
- Mathys Tel almost made it 4-1 with a header (great delivery from Pavlović on a corner), but Nicolas made a great instinctive play to save it.
- Former Bayern Munich prospect Grant Leon Ranos came on as a sub for Gladbach.
- Overall, Bayern Munich showed great resilience. All of their hard work paid off for a very satisfying victory. The lineup was key to the team looking refreshed, but how much will Tuchel change things for Bayer Leverkusen next week?
There were rumors floating that Paris Saint-Germain had serious interest in Bayern Munich defender Matthijs de Ligt in the January transfer window.
At first, it was thought that Bayern Munich shut down any talk of a move, but it turns out that it might have been the Dutchman himself who killed off the talk of a deal:
Paris Saint-Germain were linked to Bayern Munich defender Matthijs de Ligt this January window, but the rumor didn’t result in any serious transfer. Nonetheless, the 24-year-old nixed any potential talk about moving to the French capital.
According to L’Équipe, De Ligt rejected the chance to join PSG, and the Parisians made a great effort to sign the Dutch international. The Ligue 1 side attempted to sign a center-back, which lasted the entire transfer window.
After successfully acquiring Lucas Beraldo in early January, Les Parisiens was compelled to search for an additional defender due to Milan Skriniar’s injury, which could potentially end his season.
In a transfer rumor that still leaves this blogger mystified, there are reports still linking Bayern Munich to VfB Stuttgart striker Serhour Guirassy. Bild journalist Christian Falk had the latest info in his column. Interestingly, if Guirassy does move to Bavaria, Mathys Tel could go out on loan during the summer:
Falk wrote in his Caught Offside column: “FC Bayern currently prefers to buy in England rather than sell players there. They had success with Harry Kane and Eric Dier, but it didn’t work with Kieran Trippier this winter.
“Bayern are considering buying Serhou Guirassy from Stuttgart in the summer. In that case, the club would be willing to do a loan deal for Mathys Tel (18). Tottenham have already tried to get the striker in the summer and winter. Both clubs could approach the business again in the summer.”
Needless to say, we have a TON to talk about. Let’s take a look at what is top for this week’s episode:
- What the Philadelphia Eagles taught us about “a win is a win” and why Bayern Munich needs to get it together.
- Why is Thomas Tuchel so averse to Jamal Musiala playing wing — even at a time where the club desperately needs him to?
- Examining the validity of my own crackpot theory about Musiala possibly refusing to play wing. Is there a primadonna blossoming under the radar?
- Taking a look at the other options: Thomas Muller, Mathys Tel, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Bryan Zaragoza, and Alphonso Davies.
- Was bringing in Zaragoza now, a panic move?
- The acquisition of Sacha Boey and what it could mean for the future of Noussair Mazraoui.
- A deep dive in how divisive Tuchel has made things in the Bayern Munich fanbase.
- Thought on the last episode of True Detective.
Bayern Munich stars Jamal Musiala, Dayot Upamecano, and Konrad Laimer earned spots on WhoScored.com’s Bundesliga Team of the Month:
Bundesliga Team of the Month pic.twitter.com/7FYkktfHXx— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) February 1, 2024
There has been some backlash toward the USWNT team in recent years — and Lindsay Horan’s recent comments to ESPN probably will not help that situation.
The dominant force in women’s football for over a decade, the United States is not evolving with the game like other countries and has become far more susceptible to being “caught” by other countries in recent years.
Truthfully, the players are not necessarily the problem — the developmental system in the United States can be rife with corruption, poor scouting (more in the identifying process than anything, which is dependent on club directors), and a dependance on privately-run clubs, whose goal is to make money and push their own product.
The lack of a real governing organization unifying the system is also a major problem, but if you wanted me to go on and on and on about everything wrong with youth soccer in the United States, I could write a manifesto.
Anyway, all of that probably has made this version of the USWNT more criticized than ever and Horan has heard enough:
United States women’s national team captain Lindsey Horan has said in an interview with The Athletic that the team’s supporters struggle to correctly assess her performances, adding that “American soccer fans, most of them aren’t smart.”
Horan has been co-captain of the USWNT, along with veteran forward Alex Morgan, since being appointed by former head coach Vlatko Andonovski on July 7, 2023. She wears the armband when both players are on the pitch at the same time.
“American soccer fans, most of them aren’t smart,” Horan said. “They don’t know the game. They don’t understand. [But] it’s getting better and better. I’m gonna piss off some people, but the game is growing in the U.S. People are more and more knowledgeable, but so much of the time people take what the commentators say, right? My mom does it! My mom says, ‘Julie Foudy [the former USWNT midfielder and now commentator] said you had such a good game!’ And I’m here, just going, ‘I was f----ing s--- today.’”
Yikes. Let’s go on:
The 29-year-old said her experience in France, where she plays her club football for Lyon, is different.
“From what I’ve heard, people understand my game a little bit more, a sense of my football and the way I play,” Horan said. “It is the French culture. Everyone watches football. People know football.”
The USWNT received heavy criticism following its poor showing at the Women’s World Cup this summer, where it was knocked out by Sweden in the round of 16, but Horan said that she wasn’t interested in the views of outsiders.
“If you’re not backing it up on the field, people are gonna come and talk s--- about what you’re doing, where your priorities are,” she said. “Like, ‘Are you getting ready for the game? Are you caring more about this s---?’”
Specifically as it relates to this version of the USWNT, Horan says it will take time to reach that “all-world” level of previous iterations:
Horan’s growing experience allows her to understand the pressure that comes with playing for the four-time world champion.
“You have to be amongst this team for a while to know what the f--- that takes... It’s one of the most competitive national teams to be a part of,” Horan said. “Even in these past few games, you see little glimpses of that [how good the team can be], but it’s the final product, continuing to do that throughout the game, getting everyone on the same page, not just four or five players,” Horan said.
“If you can develop that more, and it’s inherent in every single player on the team, you’re looking to play the combinations, all of these things? No idea what this team can do. Then you have the mentality aspect on top of it, where if the football is not going well, we know that we can freakin’ go. We have players on the field that are faster, stronger, capable in behind, and we’re gonna gut it out, right? The world is going to be very fearful.”
Look...we all want athletes to be honest. Horan was honest...maybe too honest, but this seems like there is some pressure mounting on the team to perform. With Spain, France, England, Germany, Sweden, Japan, and Canada all growing by leaps and bounds in the women’s game, the previously massive gap between the USWNT and those countries has now closed.
That is not the fault of the current players, but more on the leaders of youth soccer, where “pay to play” has now evolved into weapon wielded by those in power to control the landscape to suit their own needs, not the sport as a whole.
Arturo Vidal was always one for grandeur wasn’t he? Check this out:
Arturo Vidal arrived at his Colo Colo unveiling in a helicopter, before riding a horse dressed as a king, wearing a crown and holding a sword as he toured the pitch while greeting approximately 35,000 fans in Santiago, as he returned to the club after 17 years away pic.twitter.com/04ZDLHvybc— Guardian sport (@guardian_sport) February 2, 2024