Individual class against highly-ambitious complete football. There was something in the wind and the duel on the pitch didn’t disappoint. With a bad ending for Bayern.
3 Things we noticed
1. Hoffenheim’s plan pans out for 55 minutes
We’ve talked about it before, which advantages a mix of 3-5-2 and 5-3-2, the one Hoffenheim are executing, would have to the static and natural positioning on the pitch. Due to the personnel of Bayern, which was very wing heavy, this became evident. When Munich were in possession Hoffenheim a back-five and closed Coman and Robben down early through Toljan and Zuber.
They were supported by the near side central midfielder, while the respective half-defender covered the space behind and blocked the direct pass to Lewandowski. It became obvious early, that without any pace in transition on the wings Hoffenheim would be nearly impossible to break down. This was even harder without any quick and low diagonal balls switching the play.
Ancelotti’s chose a rather uncreative midfield centre, which had dire consequences as they couldn’t create any penetration through dribbling or quick passing.
Hoffenheim had to focus on two things. To not drop too deep to prohibit the visitors from making their way into the box or to the goal line. And secondly, to avoid losses of possession in transition (as they did ahead of Lewandowski’s big chance in the 45h and 55th minute).
The big difference to most other Bundesliga teams trying to play with a back-five, is Hoffenheim’s courageous play in transition and bringing a lot of players ahead of the ball on one side without sacrificing their compactness. Which is always a given, because of their back-three covering behind.
This is not only leading to chances on goal, but also prevents the opponent to really establish play, like Bayern were able to do against Augsburg. Furthermore, Nagelsmann’s side frequently inserted some phases of high pressing, which made the game even harder for FC Bayern.
Hoffenheim were able to pull through with this for 55 minutes. Bayern’s attacking play improved after that. Especially, because Rafinha and Alaba moved further forward and could support Coman and Robben with Sanches drifting wide on the left. With the substitution of Ribéry the creative issue was addressed as well. Bayern piled on the pressure and could get Hoffenheim out of their aforementioned setup.
Bayern now showed how it could be done. Variable attacks over the whole width of the pitch. Determined overlapping from the full-backs. High pressing of the midfield. Towards the end Bayern were able to pin Hoffenheim in their own box.
It wasn’t enough to get a goal, because crosses and shots on target remained inaccurate and Baumann had a good day, too.
The will and urge to come back came too late.
Therefore, you have to give credit to the Nagelsmann eleven, despite a weaker second half. For the mostly disciplined execution of a good plan.
2. Sanches is coming to grips
After 10-15 minutes one was frightened by the young Portuguese.
Up until that point Sanches had already played three horrific misplaced placed, which led to a big chance and a smaller chance for Hoffenheim.
Sanches seemed insecure, nearly went into hiding and was probably happy not to receive a ball under pressure.
His game changed until he was subbed off in the 72. minute. Sanches grew in confidence. He didn’t just salvage fouls from Hoffenheim, he contributed positively.
Particularly after the break he basically operated as a second winger, when moving the ball forward. The overload on Coman’s side was helpful to create pressure and combinations against the Hoffenheim defence, which was flawless up until that point. In the end he managed two successful take-ons, one key pass with a passing accuracy of 81% and covering an average amount of distance on the pitch.
Overall it wasn’t a fantastic performance, but something Sanches can definitely build on after weeks of irrelevance.
It’s to be expected, that the Portuguese international will get more chances to show himself in the coming weeks.
Especially in comparison to Bayern’s future summer signing Rudy, who had a complete display, it showed how difficult it could be for Sanches in the next season again.
3. Loss of points priced in
One, who closely observed Bayern in past months, already anticipated what was coming, when the starting lineup was announced.
Especially away from home, without Thiago and Lahm so much is still missing in Bayern’s still fragile static and a loss of points was to be expected against an opponent as good as Hoffenheim. With a 13 points advantage this is manageable, if not priced in.
Lahm has repeatedly said how tough the 3-day-rhythm is for him. Thiago, who played a lot of minutes lately, can really do with some rest ahead of the games against Dortmund and Real, too. Ancelotti confirmed his reputation as a pragmatic team manager, who calculated between work load and rhythm.
Looking at the result against Hoffenheim one can criticise that. However, looking at the remainder of the season this could have a positive effect.
|TSG 1899 Hoffenheim – FC Bayern 1-0 (1-0)|
|Hoffenheim||Baumann – Toljan, Süle, Vogt, Hübner, Zuber – Demirbay (62. Schwegler), Rudy (75. Terrazzino), Amiri – Wagner (62. Szalai), Kramaric|
|Bench||Stolz, Uth, Bicakcic, Polanski|
|FC Bayern||Ulreich – Rafinha, Martínez, Hummels, Alaba (75. Bernat) – Sanches (72. Ribéry), Alonso – Robben, Vidal, Coman – Lewandowski|
|Bench||Starke, Lahm, Boateng, F. Götze, Kimmich|
|Goals||1-0 Kramaric (21.)|
|Cards||Yellow: – / Lewandowski|
|Referee||Sascha Stegemann (Niederkassel)|
|Attendance||30.150 (sold out)|