For the last home game of the year, it was Darmstadt who came to Munich. After their glorious win in the previous round against Wolfsburg, Bayern again had to face a Bundesliga team in the Round of 16 of the German cup.
The last time these two faced off was on September 19th in maybe the biggest home game in the history of Darmstadt 98. At the end of it was a 3:0 win for Bayern against the unconventionally playing Darmstadt. But, up until the first goal by Vidal, they had trouble creating scoring chances.
3 things we noticed:
1. Help us, old man!
It was minute 62: Alonso, obviously unhappy, was in anger with his teammates. He recognised that they were producing too many unforced errors. He loudly demanded more concentration and a willingness to run. Shortly after that, Guardiola reacted and brought on Thiago. That ended the laissez-faire phase for Bayern.
This scene showed how important Xabi has become for the Bayern squad. Although his game has big weaknesses, most prominently his lack of speed, his leadership skills are what makes him such an important asset.
That it was Alonso who scored the only goal of the night only supports this point. Alonso was the clear center of the Bayern game. 158 ball actions was the highest number of any player. 143 of 149 passes found their way to the target, as well as several long balls to Coman and two key passes. It was a game well suited for Alonso’s skill set.
2. Joshua Kimmich – always an option
14 years younger than the Spaniard but with at least the same level of maturity in his decision-making – Kimmich started as the match as a right-back and switched to left-back in the second half. He played a convincing performance, with the second-most touches and several good combinations on the right side with Lahm and Müller. Especially in the first 20 minutes was he able to initiate several attacks and helped overloading the right wing. Kimmich proved his keen eye and regularly found the player breaking through with obvious nonchalance. He interpreted his role a lot braver than Rafinha and didn’t shy back from sprinting duels with the fast Marcel Heller.
All in all it was another good performance that was free of mistakes. He showed his enormous potential more than once. If he manages to develope further step for step, he will become a key figure of the Bayern midfield over the next years.
3. No Christmas fairytale
Bayern are at their absolute limit at the moment. The team is suffering from the injuries in all parts of the squad. The workaround with Rafinha as left-back is working but he is not able to create much offensive momentum – or just very limited. Alaba and Bernat are creating a lot more offensive moments and additionally offer a lot more support for their winger.
The main problem is that their pressing resistance has gone down significantly – an issue that was already prominent against Ingolstadt. Those problems are connected to the midfield. After his temporary high in November, Vidal is clearly overplayed at the moment. He couldn’t create any offensive impulses over the last three games.
The offensive 5 are clearly suffering from the loss of Douglas Costa. Coman has problems with the opponent’s focus on his side – possibly because of the missing counterpart at the other side of the pitch. Similarly to Götze last season, the young Frenchman has to carry the main burden in initiating attacks through his dribblings. That makes it easy for opponents to focus on his side. Consequently Bayern take fewer shots than before – only 16 against Darmstadt.
It is about time that the entire squad can regenerate and important top performers make their comeback. How important someone like Thiago can be was clearly visible in the last 15 minutes of this match.
|FC BAYERN – SV DARMSTADT 98 1-0 (1-0)|
|FC Bayern||Neuer – Kimmich, Boateng, Martínez, Rafinha – Lahm (87. Rode), Xabi Alonso, Vidal (66. Thiago) – Müller, Lewandowski, Coman (90. Kirchhoff)|
|SV Darmstadt 98||Mathenia – Kempe (81. Sailer), Garics, Sulu, Rajković, Díaz – Gondorf, Nieymeyer (87. Stroh-Engel), Heller – Vrančić (76. Rausch), Wagner|
|Goals||1-0 Alonso (40.)|
|Cards||Yellow: Rafinha / –|
|Referee||Daniel Siebert (Berlin)|