3 Things We Noticed: Celtic Glasgow – FC Bayern 1-2 (0-1)

Maurice Separator November 1, 2017

For the fourth game of the group-stage, Heynckes had to improvise quite a lot in order to keep his winning streak going. Without Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller, a bit of creativity was desperately needed to find a solution up-front.

Heynckes made five changes in comparison to the previous game against Leipzig. Kimmich, Hummels, Thiago and Rudy were given a break to rest for the matchup against Dortmund, whereas Rafinha, Süle, Tolisso, Coman and Vidal had the chance to commend themselves. In the end it was James who had the gigantic task to somehow replace Robert Lewandowski at striker.

FC Bayern vs. Celtic Glasgow starting formations

3 Things We Noticed

1. Something missing in midfield

The line-up was quite surprising, again. Even without Robert Lewandowski Heynckes went without Thiago and Rudy. Martinez and Tolisso were playing as the defensive midfield pairing, whereas Vidal, had a more offensive role. Just like in the Chilean national team he was granted a lot of liberties, offensively.

The game against Hamburg had already shown that playing Vidal and Tolisso together in midfield harms the team’s creativity regarding offensive-play. This time it was quite obvious again. Throughout the whole of 90 minutes the team rarely had the control over the game and when in possession they were lacking creativity big time against Celtic’s defence.

Heynckes approach was to speed up Bayern’s offensive-play with many position changes up-front during the game. Vidal and James, Robben and Coman and sometimes Tolisso, everything was in motion. Only Javi Martinet stuck to his position as a number 6.

However, those changes could not hide the lack of offensive power. Neither Vidal, nor James were able to create something over the middle. Vidal often tried to switch sides, which was not very surprising, as well.

Martinez, who over the past few weeks had been very convincing regarding his passing, had to deal with more pressure for the first time. He only played 77% successful passes in the first half, but managed to improve in the second.

Javi Martínez with the header for the 2-1 for FC Bayern.
(Image: Ian MacNicol / Getty Images)

The late changes with Kimmich and Rudy coming into the game, only provided more control to a limited extend. It was simply too hectic and too uncoordinated.

All of that remains one of the big tasks Heynckes needs to work on. It will be interesting to see of the coach sticks to the pairing of Vidal and Tolisso or will he start to pair one of them up with a more creative player like Thiago.

2. Back to passivity

Some call it playing to win – others call it passivity. Just like last season, under the reign of Carlo Ancelotti, the whole team started to act more passive and gave Celtic to chance to get back into the game.

Especially in the last 15 minutes before halftime they lost the control completely. Normally Heynckes’ teams start to press at least in the second third of the pitch, but even that was not always the case against Celtic. The Scots were able to pass around in their own half at their pleasure.

Luckily there was no real danger, which largely was due to the offensive quality of Celtic in general. However they managed to get close to the FC Bayern box a couple of times. Against a more powerful opponent, this certainly should be concerning.

Only 55% possession at halftime, against one of the weaker Champions League opponents, cannot be very satisfactory for this team, as well.

Callum McGregor with the equalizer.
(Image: Stu Forster / Getty Images)

Even after the second lead by Martinez, the team directly went into passive-mode, again. It was due to the lack of offensive potential by the opponent, that FC Bayern won the game in the end.

Over the last few years the team, only slowed down when leading by two or more goals. Heynckes should be keen on bringing this approach back, with early pressure on the opponent and no passivity as seen under Ancelotti for a large part of this season.

3. No Lewy, empty box

How big of an impact one player has, sometimes shows best when he is not there. As we saw against Celtic. Robert Lewandowski’s absence not only regards dangerous situations in front of the goal, but is much more extensive.

Especially his offensive teammates might have missed him a lot in this game. He usually acts as an option between the lines, controls the ball under pressure and has the ability to create something new.

All of this was missing in positional-play as well as in counter situation.

In addition to that, the continuous presence in the box is not possible without him. James acted more as a false 9 and tried to get involved everywhere offensively. Under those circumstances, Celtic had no problems to strengthen their defence around the box.

Crossing the ball, one of the favourable options of the team, over the past few weeks was no option as well against Celtic, because there was simply no one to cross to. Even with midfielders pushing forward, there was rarely a chance to outnumber the opponent offensively.

In the end, it worked at least a few times, which was also the key for the winner by Martinez. However, without Lewandowski the team misses the constant presence of a real striker, big time.


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Celtic Glasgow – FC Bayern
Celtic Glasgow Gordon – Lustig, Boyata, Bitton, Tierney – Brown, Armstrong (79. Griffiths) – Forrest, McGregor, Sinclair (64. Rogic) – Dembélé
Bench De Vries, Gamboa, Hayes, Ntcham, Ajer
FC Bayern Ulreich – Rafinha, Süle, Boateng, Alaba – Vidal (59. Rudy), Martinez, Tolisso (83. Kimmich) – Robben (90. Thiago), James, Coman
Bench Starke, Hummels, Friedl, Wintzheimer
Goals 0-1 Coman (22.), 1-1 McGregor (74.), 1-2 Martínez (77.)
Cards – / –
Referee Danny Makkelie (Netherlands)
Attendance 57,000

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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  1. Agree with most of what you said, however on the second point, we should keep in mind that the team was a bit tired, coming off from a 3 matches streak in 6 days including 210 minutes with a very physical Leipzig. And with all injuries & the match vs Dortmund this weekend, I can understand why the play was not as intense as we would like. Also the opening goal by Coman, and the 2-1 by Martinez, just after the level, allowed the team to stay back and try to protect the game instead of going forward.

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