3 Things We Noticed: Bayer Leverkusen – FC Bayern 0-0 (0-0)

After the loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League that was frustrating on all levels imaginable, FC Bayern were on the road on Saturday evening against one of their least favourite away opponents of recent years: Bayer Leverkusen. Author: Steffen • Translator: Bettina

In case you missed it:

Bayer Leverkusen versus FC BayernLeverkusen vs Bayern – starting formations

3 things we noticed:

1. No luck in front of goal

Sandwiched between the two difficult games against Real Madrid, and with so many players injured, suspended, or rested, most people didn’t expect much from the game. Even though the 2017 version of Leverkusen doesn’t have much in common with the team of previous years.

With all of this in mind, Bayern’s performance over 90 minutes was even a little better than expected: 19 shots, 5-6 major chances. Not a single big Leverkusen scoring chance, and a sending-off for the home team. The only thing missing were real finishing qualities, both in front of goal, and during 30 minutes of playing 11 v 10.

Exemplary for this was Müller’s big chance (58′), where he was through and alone in front of Leno, hesitated, turned, and passed to Vidal for lack of alternatives – who also sidestepped and eventually gave up the opportunity. Müller said after the game that he had made the wrong decision there.

It also became obvious during the weak first 20 minutes after Jedvaj’s sending off, rooted in the many substitutions that disrupted Bayern’s flow. Kimmich became a full-back, Thiago a left winger, and Lahm a midfielder. It took the team until the 85th minute, until Bayern found their way in the new formation.

The two lost points don’t hurt Bayern in the table, but everyone who knows the dynamics within a football team over the course of a long season is aware of the importance of successes to keep the season going. Bayern missed out on getting that success today. Thomas Müller, clearly annoyed after the game, summed it up in one sentence after the game: “We showed a good reaction after the game against Real, but we’re really not happy with this in the end.”

2. Left side on fire

It took Bayern’s offense 30 minutes to find their part in the game. An important factor for that was Coman, who swapped positions with Costa after a while and played remarkably in combination with Bernat. As a right-footed player, Coman is more flexible on the left: move inside or occupy the left half-space, while Bernat does a run behind him.

The little Spaniard has been improved in his offensive game all season. It’s obvious that his dribblings are most successful when he can move towards his opponent at high speed. He’s not the fastest over the first couple of meters. Until he was subbed off after 70 minutes, Coman was involved in six shots on goal, and had four successful dribbles – a remarkable volume for this short playing time. Bernat added another three dribbles and two involvements in shots on goal. The only thing that both of them lacked was cool-headedness in the penalty box for their good scoring opportunities.

Bernat might be needed from the start on Tuesday if Hummels or Boateng don’t become fit to play on time. Defensively, he hasn’t shown his full potential at the highest level yet. Coman, on the other hand, has done exactly that during his gala against Juventus last season. He, too, could play an important role for the team, depending on how the season goes. Both have delivered good applications for more playing time. The same is true, too, for Joshua Kimmich, who – after a poor early phase – was convincing both in central midfield and in defense.

3. Focus on Brandt

It’s no secret that Bayern are interested in Julian Brandt. What’s still unclear, however, is how a potential transfer could be realised, and how much money it will take to make Leverkusen say Yes. There seems to be a release clause in place for the summer of 2018.

Brandt’s big advantage is his skill in handling the ball, which is remarkable for a winger with a relatively high centre of gravity. Brandt is creative, always keeps his head up, and is calm in close proximity of the penalty box. In his career so far, Brandt has had several phases where he seems to doubt his own game. He disappears in those phases – like he has done for vast stretches of this second half of the season, where he was rarely convincing. 9 of his 10 assists and goals stem from the first half, eight of those from November and December alone.

His mixture of good dribbles and danger in front of goal, similar to what Emil Forsberg in Leipzig has been displaying, makes him very interesting for Bayern, who are still looking for high-scoring successors for Robben and Ribéry – despite Costa and Coman.

Against Bayern, Brandt played on the right, unlike in most of his games in the past, and was engaged mostly in counter attacks. He missed Leverkusen’s biggest chance just before the break, when he slipped after Volland’s horizontal pass (20′) and fired his shot wide.

Until he was subbed off in the 65th minute, Brandt had a part in three of the – until then – sechs shots on goal that Leverkusen produced. He also completed one successful dribbling.

In the end, this game won’t have much of an impact on the decision-making process in Munich for Brandt. He’s a serious candidate, especially since the questions about Costa’s ability to develop have only become bigger, not smaller. The question is just when, and at what price.

Bayer Leverkusen – FC Bayern 0-0 (0-0)
Bayer 04 LeverkusenLeno – Hilbert, Jedvaj, Toprak, Wendell – Baumgartlinger, Kampl – Aranguiz (62′ Dragovic), Havertz (88′ Bailey), Brandt (66′ Bellarabi) – Volland
BenchÖzcan, Dragovic, Kießling, Mehmedi, Henrichs
FC BayernNeuer – Rafinha, Martínez (72′ Lahm), Alaba, Bernat – Kimmich, Vidal – Coman (70′ Alonso), Thiago, Costa (60′ Robben) – Müller
BenchUlreich, Alonso, Sanches, Feldhahn, Obermair
CardsYellow: Aranguiz / -, Yellow-Red: Jedvaj
RefereeDaniel Siebert (Berlin)
Attendance30.210 (sold out)


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