With Bayer Leverkusen a strong opponent was waiting for Bayern in the league. Since league leaders Leipzig had already won their game on Friday, the gap already increased to six points.
3 things we noticed
1. Javi “Diego” Martinez
According to the box score Javi Martinez won 71% of his duels. The Spaniard, who sat out the last couple of weeks due to injuries, returned like he was never even away. He continued his streak of solid and at times very good performances. It doesn’t matter who Martinez is paired with (either Hummels or Boateng), the defence seems more stable with him on the pitch. He often finds the right moment to step out of the back four. Something his fellow defenders often currently lack. And his good feeling for the spaces pays off. Three interceptions, one clearance and two blocked shots underline a good game.
In the 82th minute Javi Martinez makes up for a bad positioning with a clear handball. He was lucky; the match officials didn’t recognize his wrongdoing. It may sound paradox, but it nevertheless was an important action, since in the end it secured Bayern’s win. Of course, this win was intended to be won by fair means and not like that.
2. Silver Surfer in midfield
Xabi Alonso just turned 35. Philipp Lahm, who will take his seat as a sporting director rather sooner than later, is also 33. Both are at the right edge of the player’s age curve. In these current times, it becomes more and more visible that they are not able to go full speed over 90 minutes. As a number eight and right full-back, Lahm did not win a single duel in this game. Before the equalizer he had the chance to stop Calhanoglu, but failed, him missing a step is a fitting description for his current situation. Alonso could have also cleared the situation, but his lacking top speed prevented him from even reaching the duel. Nevertheless, Alonso won 71% of his duels, but his performance also became weaker as the game went on. His pass to Costa more or less created the 2-1, but his game continues to be error prone in the autumn of 2016. Especially when the team had the chance to hold on to the lead in the final minutes, Alonso didn’t chip in enough. His last minute tackle in injury time is a good example for that.
Ancelotti still has a problem in this issue. He doesn’t find the right mixture. One could get cocky and ask him, how a midfield with a 33-year-old and a 35-year-old is supposed to function. He doesn’t want to leave out the qualities Lahm and Alonso are still able to bring into the game, but he is also unable to mask the weaknesses of the Silver Surfers. Pep Guardiola threw a lot of possession on that problem. In the end Ancelotti will have to alter his tactics, if he doesn’t want to alter his personnel.
3. Crosses, crosses and more crosses
Bayern only had 13 shots against Leverkusen. A very low number for a home game. Roger Schmidt set up his team nicely and only left a soft spot at the left side. Alaba and Costa each had six crosses. Most of them just inaccurate, even if the 1-0 was initiated by a cross from Alaba. Why Bayern are still focusing on this tactic is completely unclear. With this approach they are unable to get their target men Robert Lewandowski and also Thomas Müller into scoring positions. Lewandowski only had one shot, a blocked one. Bayern’s game still lacks speed and surprise elements during their possession phases. The centre, which features creative players like Thiago and Kimmich/Lahm, is not utilized offensively. Open spaces are not attacked accordingly. Ancelotti wanted to tackle that issue against Leverkusen by letting Lewandowski occupy theses spaces when dropping back. Bayern were able to prolong their combinational play with Lewandowski as an additional passing option, but then a target man was missing up top.
Ancelotti also has to work on that issue to create more scoring opportunities for his strikers. At least the dead ball situations provided some threat in this game. For the first time this season, Bayern gained a benefit of their purchase of Mats Hummels. With the win, Ancelotti will have a bit of a quieter week ahead of him. An improvement after Dortmund and Rostov could only be expected in very few areas against Leverkusen and Bayern only showed these for a few spells in the game.
|FC Bayern – Bayer 04 Leverkusen 2-1 (1-1)|
|FC Bayern||Neuer – Kimmich, Martínez, Hummels, Alaba – Lahm, Alonso, Thiago (81. Vidal) – Müller (65. Robben), Lewandowski, Costa (74. Ribéry)|
|Subs||Ulreich – Rafinha, Bernat, Sanches|
|Bayer 04 Leverkusen||Leno – Henrichs, Tah, Dragovic, Wendell – Kampl, Aranguiz – Havertz, Calhanonglu – Brandt (59. Volland), Mehmedi (59. Chicharito)|
|Subs||Özcan – Baumgartlinger, Jedvaj, Da Costa|
|Goals||1-0 Thiago (30′), 1-1 Calhanoglu (35′), 2-1 Hummels (56′)|
|Cards||Yellow: – / –|
|Referee||Marco Fritz (Kolb)|
|Attendance||75.000 (sold out)|