3 things we noticed:
1. Collective > individual class
All those who claimed that Bayern’s individual class would always be enough for them in the Bundesliga were proven emphatically wrong today. Bayern’s performance in Ancelotti’s system wasn’t worthy of a league winner, and, in that regard, no different from the games against Freiburg and Werder in recent weeks. This time, however, Bayern’s downfall was that those players who usually save the day for the rest of the team stayed far under (Thiago) or just about at their normal level.
Even Arjen Robben and Philipp Lahm, the only Bayern players that reached normal form today, were faced with increasingly big problems – because not even Ancelotti’s system of putting the main focus on individual players worked. Robben had hardly any room to act in, due both to Hertha’s good coverage of him and the lack of power on Bayern’s other attacking side.
Berlin allowed hardly any scoring chances for Bayern today, for vast stretches of the game, mostly due to their collective performance, which was close to perfect. Would Bayern have won against them with the more systemic football of recent years? Who knows. One thing, however, is for certain: relying only on the genius of single players will not be successful against teams that work well as a collective, are well-prepared, and ready to go the extra mile.
2. Worrisome Alaba
While Bayern’s team features several players that aren’t exactly at the peak of their career performance at the moment, there are also some that are in the deepest crisis of their career. Unfortunately, David Alaba is one of the latter. The Austrian hasn’t had a single convincing game since the winter break, on the contrary: he is usually one of the weakest Bayern players on the field.
How come? Based on statistics alone, Alaba isn’t all that bad: 87% successful passes (only 2% fewer than Hummels), six balls won – solid numbers for a full-back-turned-centre-back. Alaba’s real weakness is in his head and his mentality on the field. Unlike in previous years, Alaba looks insecure in his position and sometimes even overwhelmed.
The expectation within the club was that he would be one of the players that would help smooth the transition from Guardiola to Ancelotti and play a bigger part within the team as an experienced player – at the moment, he’s threatening to become a victim of said transition.
3. Two speeds are no good
Are Bayern a team of two speeds? we wondered in our round-up. Have they found their highest gear against Arsenal, or was it just a brief burst of energy? And: which speed are we at now? The answer to all of these questions is simple: there can’t be two different speeds for this team. Champions League Bayern might be slightly different in their performance from Bundesliga Bayern, but the basic attitude has to be the same.
As we mentioned in the beginning, Carlo Ancelotti himself spoke about higher motivation in knock-out games – a development that is more than just questionable. Because even though the rest of the Bundesliga is shockingly poor this season, that shouldn’t be reason for Bayern to take it easy. On the contrary – it should spur the team on to make it abundantly clear that only one team can win this league, early on. The idea of an intentional, obvious difference in performance between Big Games and “unimportant” league games seems completely counter-productive. It might lead to occasional successes and, with some luck, even to the big prize – but never to a constant level of success.
|Hertha BSC – FC Bayern 1:1 (1:0)|
|Hertha BSC||Jarstein – Pekarik, Langkamp, Brooks, Plattenhardt – Skjelbred, Stark – Haraguchi (90.+4 Lustenberger), Darida, Kalou (90.+2 Mittelstädt) – Ibisevic (87. Esswein)|
|FC Bayern||Neuer – Lahm, Hummels, Alaba, Bernat (78. Coman) – Kimmich (61. Alonso), Vidal (61. Lewandowski) – Robben, Thiago, Douglas Costa – Müller|
|Bench||Ulreich – Rafinha, Martínez, Sanches|
|Goals||1:0 Ibisevic (21.), 1:1 Lewandowski (90.+6)|
|Cards||Pekarik / Hummels, Lewandowski, Alonso|
|Referee||Patrick Ittrich (Hamburg)|
|Attendance||74.667 (sold out)|