SINSHEIM, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 09: Andrej Kramaric of Hoffenheim (l) fights for the ball with Mats Hummels of Bayern Muenchen during the Bundesliga match between TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and FC Bayern Muenchen at Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena on September 9, 2017 in Sinsheim, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

3 Things We Noticed: TSG Hoffenheim – FC Bayern 2-0 (1-0)

Steffen Separator September 9, 2017

The Munich team loses to TSG Hoffenheim once more and have to accept the first big setback in the 2017/18 Bundesliga season.

TSG Hoffenheim vs Bayern Munich, basic formationsTSG Hoffenheim vs Bayern Munich, 09/09/2017, basic formations.

3 things we noticed:

1. Nagelsmann coolly blocks Ancelotti’s innovation

It wasn’t only the personnel on the field that was surprising to many, but also the formation Ancelotti fielded. It was a 4-3-3, interpreted quite spectacularly – because it wasn’t static, but dynamic across several couplets. Tolisso switched positions with Kimmich a couple of times while the latter raced up the field and, unlike Rafinha, took part in counter-pressing. In front of them, Müller kept moving diagonally and switching positions with both Lewandowski and Coman.

The idea behind the change must have been to circumvent Hoffenheim’s man-marking in the centre and to get the ball past midfield to the variable offensive line, to outnumber Hoffenheim’s wingbacks. This lead to a strong Bayern start that caused some serious trouble for Hoffenheim. Lewandowski almost scored the opening goal during that phase.

Nagelsmann reacted coolly and switched to five at the back after 15 minutes. Now the fullbacks were waiting for Bayern’s forwards from a deep position. The promising attempt of getting behind the wingers was effectively countered with that move. There was simply no space left behind Kaderabek and Zuber, because they had slotted in level with the defensive back-line.

It would have made sense to now look for the half-spaces behind Hoffenheim’s midfield with Thiago and Tolisso. Especially Tolisso – but he’s not the right kind of player for that. Instead, there were 1-on-1 attacks by Coman against an overwhelmed Kaderabek, and crosses from the sides.

As positive and courageous as Ancelotti’s initial idea was – Nagelsmann countered it easily and effectively.

It took 78 minutes for something to change again: Ancelotti subbed in James and Ribéry and changed his formation to three at the back (!!!). This kick-started Bayern’s final offensive efforts, which lead to nothing.

In the end, it was quite bitter that Ancelotti’s tactically most innovative game finished with a loss.

2. Coman’s strange game

Kingsley Coman embodied Bayern’s game tonight; the young Frenchman, finally given a chance to start in an important game, was the best offensive player in Munich’s team by far.

Three shots on goal, three assists for shots on goal, four sucessful dribblings, 13 crosses, 20 won tackles (more than any other player on the field), nine sprints (more than any other Bayern player). Coman did a lot of things right and was the only one causing any danger for Hoffenheim’s goal for vast stretches of the game. That was all, however – many of his crosses went nowhere, his shots on goal were off target despite good scoring positions. He, like the rest of the team, simply didn’t make enough of his chances.

Coman’s basics are outstanding. There is no fullback in the Bundesliga who can withstand his speed. He will learn how to make better decisions and how to stay calmer in the penalty box only with experience and situations repeating. It would be important for his development to get more chances in the future despite the loss.

3. Leaders on the field?

Usually, we’re not the kind of blog to talk about (a lack of) leaders on the field. And yet, this first truly critical moment after the retirement of Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso was an important test for the new leadership structure within the team.

They didn’t master it too well. Neuer, the captain, tried to build up the team with gestures, but as a goalkeeper, is removed from what happens on the field, and doesn’t have a lot of influence. Apart from that, the team seemed calm – almost too calm. Rudy in particular (only 43 passes), who was meant to build the game from the centre, seemed to be hiding. Kramaric almost man-marking him can only be a partial excuse for that.

The rest of the team seemed uninspired, as well. Not quite looking desolate, but also without the real conviction and clarity that is needed to turn a game around, the way the team has often done over the last couple of years.

Mats Hummels and Thiago have the experience, the positions, and the quality to take on more responsibility in these moments. Sorting the game, providing security to the team, playing the balls to where well-practised routines kick in and lead to individual players making a difference with a moment of brilliance. They didn’t live up to that potential either.

A lot will be made of this loss in the coming days. There is no reason to overreact after a defeat to a strong, slightly lucky Hoffenheim team. And yet the reaction of the team and its potential leading men after going behind wasn’t encouraging.


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TSG Hoffenheim – FC Bayern 0-2 (0-1)
TSG Hoffenheim Baumann – Nordtveit, Bicakcic, Hübner – Demirbay – Kaderábek, Amiri, Geiger (63. Polanski), Zuber (69. Schulz) – Uth (75. Ochs), Kramaric
Bench Kobel, Passlack, Rupp, Grillitsch
FC Bayern Munich Neuer – Kimmich, Hummels, Martínez, Rafinha (78. Ribéry) – Tolisso, Rudy (57. Robben), Thiago – Müller (78. James), Lewandowski, Coman
Bench Ulreich, Friedl, Süle, Pantovic
Goals 1-0 Uth (27′), 2-0 Uth (51′)
Yellow Cards Hübner, Zuber, Kaderábek / Hummels
Referee Daniel Siebert (Berlin)
Attendance 30.150 (sold out)

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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