Following a difficult opening match against Hamburger SV, Bayern were now ready for their first Allianz Arena appearance in 2016. The opponent from Hoffenheim has changed a lot over the last few months. Compared to the first leg, they played a completely different style, which certainly was the case because of new coach Huub Stevens.
Bayern meanwhile had to digest the latest bad news shortly before kickoff. Javi Martínez had to undergo a knee surgery, causing him to be sidelined for the next two to three weeks. Because of that, Holger Badstuber was the only traditional centerback in the squad.
3 things we noticed:
1. Defensive stability
The Bavarians only allowed five shots on goal against Hoffenheim, displaying a confident appearance throughout most of the match – a noteworthy thing, given the unusual lineup. A big factor for this strength was the aggressive forward pressing. Whenever Bayern lost the ball, it was very well followed by putting the ball-carrying Hoffenheim player under pressure early. Especially Coman, Costa and Müller were very committed in this regard. The high positioning of Alonso and Lahm paid off as well. Bayern lost control only twice. 41 minutes in, the midfield pressing of Kimmich did not work out perfectly. As Müller didn’t manage to get into a duel either, Kramarić was allowed a relatively unmarked shot on Neuer’s goal with only Alonso disturbing him slightly. In the second half, it was a long ball by Baumann that was defended too reluctantly by the Bayern defense. Schmid played a through ball to Kramarić, Kimmich committed himself to the tackle too early and allowed the Hoffenheim player to have an even better angle towards the goal but the shot went wide.
The back-three was a convincing solution. Kimmich and Alaba were able to contribute to the game with their speed and didn’t struggle any more from the 60th minute on, when Hoffenheim decided to execute a more aggressive pressing. Kimmich impressed with a passing accuracy of 85% as well as two important clearances. Alaba won 83% of his tackles and intercepted four passes – most of them in the Bavarian half. Furthermore, since Alonso and Lahm were well in sync in central midfield, Bayern didn’t have many problems to stop the away team’s attacks.
Four goals in two games bring Robert Lewandowski back to the quota of scoring exactly 1 goal per Bundesliga game. Thus, the striker alone has scored more often than Ingolstadt and Hoffenheim and is at least on par with Hannover 96 and Darmstadt. With his two goals against Hoffenheim, he has already surpassed his record from the previous season (25 goals in 49 games). Currently, the Pole stands at 27 goals in 28 official matches. Robert Lewandowski undoubtedly plays an outstanding season. Compared with the first half of the campaign, Lewandowski shifted vertically between goal and midfield more often, rather than drifting to the wings as we’ve seen him do so many times in the past. The wing-focused game of Bayern against Hoffenheim was a great fit for him. Again and again there were crosses and powerful passes being played into the box. His 12 shots prove how much of a key player he is these days. He has become a cornerstone of this team – and next to Boateng, Neuer and Müller, he is probably the most important part of the team.
3. Difficult decision
Less than 24 hours remain for Bayern to decide whether the club wants to spend some money on the transfer market. Jerome Boateng’s long-term injury aside, now Javi Martinez is out for a few weeks as well. In Badstuber, only one traditional centerback was on the pitch – and he couldn’t possibly be a reliable factor in every single match at this point.
Since Hoffenheim rather placed the focus on damage limitation, this game can’t be seen as a real measure of the quality of the defense. The first real test of the new back-three is probably the game against Bayer Leverkusen next week. However, due to the closing transfer window, the result of that test will come too late. It remains questionable whether this formation would really work as well against players who can hold the ball much better. That’s where Badstuber could face serious trouble. Even if he gets closer to his actual peak, his fitness remains a constant doubt. The first real endurance test for him would be the upcoming week, with matches in Leverkusen, Bochum and Augsburg. These matches will come a bit too soon for Benatia. This makes it all the more annoying that there is no upcoming talent from the youth ranks who could be trying to earn a spot in the first team.
The management will certainly have received and still receive some calls from agents. A transfer only makes sense if there is a potential signing who would strengthen the team. The club should not get involved in a third-rate solution, as it would then be better to rely on the available players who are familiar with the system and have earned more playing time.
|FC Bayern München – TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 2-0 (1-0)|
|Bayern||Neuer – Alaba, Badstuber, Kimmich – Alonso, Lahm – Coman (62. Thiago), Costa (88. Bernat), Müller (67. Vidal), Robben – Lewandowski|
|Subs||Starke, Rafinha, Rode|
|Hoffenheim||Baumann – Kim, Süle, Bičakčić, Kadeřábek – Strobl, Rudy – Vargas, Hamad (68. Amiri), Schmid (77. Volland) – Kramarić (68. Zuber)|
|Subs||Grahl, Schär, Toljan, Joelinton|
|Goals||1-0 Lewandowski (32.), 2-0 Lewandowski (64.)|
|Cards||Yellow: Costa (28.) / Strobl (28.)|
|Referee||Dr. Jochen Drees (Münster-Sarmsheim)|
|Attendance||75.000 (sold out)|