FC Bayern rewards strong Augsburg team

Maurice Separator September 26, 2018

Coach Niko Kovac knew to surprise before the game. In front of a home crowd, the Croatian dropped a trained left-back, which led to some confusion.

FC Bayern Munich vs. FC AugsburgBasic formations: Bayern – Augsburg, 25.09.2018

All variations were discussed, from Gnabry or Sanches as the outside defender to the back three. But in the end it was Leon Goretzka who started on the left outer lane. In attack, Wagner replaced Lewandowski, who had been in good form so far, and Sanches also collected his next assignment from the beginning.

After the repeated blunders of regular goalkeeper Giefer, coach Baum had decided on the actual number two Luthe for the Augsburg team. The former Bayern player Fabian Götze was sitting on the bench as he often did recently. Otherwise Augsburg relied on a flexible 5-2-3 system, which became 3-4-1-2 with high pressing.

It was a lively start. Augsburg troubled the Bayern team early on and thus earned the first good chance in the initial phase. But Caiuby failed from a sharp angle against Neuer, instead of seeing the free Hahn on the other side.

Just a minute later, Bayern hit the post with a deflected shot. Subsequently, the game slowed down noticeably, because the rotated Munich team did not find the controlled game structure against the aggressive pressing of the Fuggerstädter. After a quarter of an hour Sanches emerged from the counter-pressing after a remarkable tempo dribble to a potential chance.

After half an hour Augsburg withdrew about ten meters further and immediately Bayern got some half chances. Especially Sanches was able to get some shots off.

Through a missed pass from Framberger, however, Wagner then came out of nowhere to the greatest chance of the game. The former German international failed against Luthe. Only a little later it was Gnabry who couldnot get the ball past the substitute goalkeeper.

With 0:0 the teams went into the halftime break. In Alaba, Kovac brought in the traditional left-back for the unconvincing Goretzka.

Right after the break Robben scored the 1-0 for the home side. Gnabry was sent long and the newcomer beat two Augsburgers. Afterwards the national player kept his head up and laid off to Robben.The Dutchman kept his calm and finished with his patented left.

A little surprisingly, Kovac took the very active Gnabry off the field after just under an hour and brought the veteran Ribéry.

The Munich team then tried to extend their lead. But for the time being there were no compelling chances. Just in time for the final quarter of an hour, Wagner was also withdrawn from the field. However, the striker was not replaced by Lewandowski, but by Thiago.

The game was almost over when the ball suddenly wriggled in the net. Ribéry scored the alleged 2-0 after a Müller goal, but the assistant on the line raised the flag late and the goal was rightly withdrawn due to an offside position.

Shortly afterwards, the ball was also in the Munich goal and despite misleading signals from the referee it counted as a goal. Neuer missed the ball on a corner kick and after some back and forth it was the former Munich player Felix Götze who pushed the ball over the line to equalise.

Also the hectic efforts of the Reds in the final minutes did not lead to the second goal and thus the record champion had to give up points for the first time this season. In the end it was once again above all the lack of chance conversion that caused the draw. Bayern could not decide the game despite the opportunities and lost concentration in the final minutes.

Already on Friday, the leader of the table will play in Berlin. Hertha had to accept their first defeat of the season in Bremen early in the evening. In Berlin however, another FC Bayern will be needed to avoid sudden unrest.

Things we noticed

1. Kovač knows to surprise

Who should replace Alaba if he needs a break or is injured?

A question, which we already asked here in the blog several times. Niko Kovač found a surprising answer on Tuesday against Augsburg. Based on the list of names one could not yet be sure of the solution, but as soon as the game was kicked off, it became clear that Goretzka would take over the left part in the back four.

The new player from Gelsenkirchen had rarely played this role in his professional career – most recently in the Supercup against Frankfurt. On the pitch, he therefore showed that he was still a little unfamiliar with the new position.

The decision by Kovač is probably less to be understood as a hint towards the future than as the best compromise, in his opinion, to give Alaba a well-deserved break.

A further alternative would have been Sanches, who was supposedly better suited due to his talents. However, Kovač did not want to force the young Portuguese, who had recently played strong games at headquarters, into a new position again. An understandable decision, which probably had strengthened in the preparation.

At half time Kovač corrected and relieved Goretzka, who despite difficulties did not show a bad performance. The fact that Alaba already came during the break was an admission of the coach, which shows that he is quite able to react to game situations. But perhaps FC Bayern should also react on the transfer market in winter.

2. No build-up without staggering

In the first thirthy minutes, Bayern displayed long-forgotten deficiencies. It may also be due to the large rotation, but the staggering in midfield left much to be desired.

All too often the ball was simply pushed from left to right in back four, with the Augsburg team already interfering. Martínez missed the opportunity to step out of the cover shadow and offer himself as an additional passing option.

Sanches missed to go back the necessary distances to pick up the ball in deeper zones, if the balls did not reach him in front. Müller and Robben again stayed too long on the right side and were out of the game.

As a result, connections to the front were seldom made and the ball was only moved through the zones by individual actions such as fast dribbling by Kimmich, for example. Goretzka and Kimmich were also needed as a deep passing option for the back four due to the Augsburg pressing and thus could not push up to act as link-up players.

3. On the highway with Sanches and Gnabry

The static play of the Reds the first half was broken up only by occasional speed attacks by the two youngest in Bayern’s starting eleven. Both Gnabry, who came from Hoffenheim, and Sanches, who came back, knew how to convince here.

If one of the two got to the ball, the ball was carried quickly and with a relatively narrow touch towards the opponent’s goal. Sanches’ tempo dribbling in particular brought back memories of his great days at the European Championship. Like then, several opponents could not stop him on his way towards the goal. A kind of high speed truck, which rolled over the opponent’s defensive line again and again. It’s just a pity that he didn’t reward himself for not exploiting his chances well.

Rock n’ Roll with Renato Sanches! The Portuguese is getting better and better.
(Photo: Christof Stache / AFP / Getty Images)

For the Stuttgart-born Gnabry, his constant drive towards the goal is particularly worth mentioning. Like last season in Kraichgau, he was able to penetrate the gaps of the defence with short sprints with the ball and surprise the goalkeeper with a quick release. This approach brings much more verticality into the Munich game. Ribéry in particular currently lacks the necessary penetrating power. Gnabry is much more often looking for the shot, but also has an eye for the teammate from time to time – as in Arjen Robben’s leading goal.

In certain situations, both youngsters would still help to take a closer look to the left and right in order to find fellow players even more frequently. But this quality can also develop over time. The abilities such as agility and resilience are much more important here.

4. Kovač gambles and loses

It was a brave approach that Kovač decided to take for the game during the week. But when, if not in a game like this? At home, against a team from the middle of the table and between the two illustrious matches on Schalke and in Berlin.

The Croatian had deliberately taken the risk of putting Goretzka in the unusual position at the back left. The former national coach gave Wagner the same conscious preference over Lewandowski. Knowing full well that he would certainly need some time to get used to the game. And at the 1-0 he was also aware that taking Thiago in would certainly not necessarily produce more goalscoring danger.

Nevertheless all these decisions of Kovač are justifiable against the background of controling the load and the mood of the squad. With a victory the new coach would get praise for his successful rotation.

Now the first points are lost for Kovač as Bayern coach – an extremely unnecessary one in addition still. The weak conversion of chances prevented the team from sealing the game earlier. Against the hard-fighting Augsburg team, it’s also unacceptable to switch off in the late minutes of the match, as Süle rightly remarked in the post-game interview.

The game today is hopefully considered a kick against the chin for the team. Nevertheless, coach Kovač should not draw the wrong lessons from the game and keep his courage to rotate. Otherwise the current squad, despite its limited numbers, holds a certain potential for conflict.

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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