Even ahead of kick-off, Bayern’s weekend had been quite eventful: the Champions League draw on Friday and the other Bundesliga results on Saturday had already caused discussions. Ancelotti’s team, meanwhile, enjoyed one of the few full weeks of training during the decisive phase of the season.
3 Things we noticed:
1. Inaccuracies in the final third
Only 112 of 144 passes in the final third reached their intended destination – 25 of 48 in the penalty box. No bad numbers, but still, not accurate enough, too often. This helped Gladbach throughout the game. Borussia took themselves out of the game with their deep positioning, but they managed to not concede for a fairly long time. For periods of the game, eight Gladbach players were positioned around their own penalty box, which made it difficult to play good combinations into that area. Bayern seemed to take everything a little too easy, at times, and some advances just vanished in well-intended but badly executed moves. All the more surprising that all it took was a speedy attack by Thiago and Müller to break apart Gladbach’s orderly formation.
We’ve talked about Thiago plenty of times, and if he keeps playing the way he did today, we will continue to do so. One scene in the first half symbolised his importance for Bayern’s recent success: he didn’t stop running after a Gladbach counter-attack and eventually managed to tackle, thanks to a slight delay by Jonas Hofmann, at Bayern’s own penalty box.
On top of that, Thiago was the usual connecting piece between defense, midfield, and attack, and was part of every ball that Bayern brought forward in the first half. Gladbach’s defensive tactics were due, in part, to Thiago’s resistance to pressing. His pass ahead of Bayern’s goal was world-class – no more, no less.
One assist, almost 90% passing rate, 25/35 passes in the final third, and participation in three of Bayern’s major chances: once again, Thiago was the motor behind Bayern’s offensive efforts. But we shouldn’t focus only on that, because he also played a big role in defense: 3 tackles, eleven (!) balls won and one blocked shot show that he is currently indispensable, everywhere on the field.
3. A chance for the bench-warmers
After the international break, Ancelotti’s team will have nine games in April. The lead of 13 points in the league will likely cause a shift in focus at Bayern, and Kimmich, Coman, and Sanches will get more playing time – especially against teams like Augsburg, Leverkusen, Mainz, and Wolfsburg. Ancelotti hasn’t rotated his team much so far, but he will have to start doing that more in the coming weeks, considering there’s not much left to lose in the league. It will also help to bring injured players like Boateng back to the team without stressing them too much; something that Pep Guardiola didn’t always handle well. Under his management, players had long periods of playing time right after comebacks, like Ribéry against Zagreb or Boateng against Hamburg.
Independently of that, Ancelotti will have to prove how good he is at actually managing his team, too. Ribéry and Robben both got subbed off today, and neither showed much understanding for it. He will have to keep them happy while at the same time giving the newcomers some playing time. Robben being so upset about a substitution in the 85th minute can only be called one thing, if looked at in a positive light: winning mentality. Yet, it will make for a topic to be discussed at Bayern during the international break, in a phase that had been almost too peaceful until now.
|Borussia Mönchengladbach – FC Bayern 0:1 (0:0)|
|Borussia Mönchengladbach||Sommer – Elvedi, Christensen, Vestergaard, Wendt – Herrmann (64. Hazard), Jantschke (73. Drmic), Strobl, Hofmann – Hahn (81. Bénes), Raffael|
|Bench||Sippel, Schulz, Kolo, Korb|
|FC Bayern||Neuer – Lahm, Martínez, Hummels, Alaba – Alonso (77. Kimmich), Thiago – Robben (85. Sanches), Müller, Ribéry (72. Coman) – Lewandowski|
|Bench||Ulreich, Rafinha, Boateng, Bernat|
|Goals||0-1 Müller (63′)|
|Cards||Yellow: – / Alonso|
|Referee||Tobias Stieler (Hamburg)|
|Attendance||54,014 (sold out)|