1. Müller breaks the 4-3-3
Who expected a different formation by Ancelotti with the four real offensive players in the starting XI was misled. It was no clear 4-2-3-1 formation by Bayern, rather the 4-3-3 formation known from the previous weeks. Nevertheless, something was different. Müller was deployed as a number 8, but he prevented any dreaded slowing down of the Bayern game with his chaotic and very vitalizing runs, movements and diversions. Put into numbers, Bayern played a 4-2-3 + Müller against Mainz, with Müller occupying the number ten space most of the time.
It was also remarkable, how Thiago and Lahm often tried to line up next to each other, to increase the central compactness and to prevent diagonal passes by Mainz behind each other. This worked out well over most of the game.
But the decisive factor was Müller. He did not only look better integrated, he really was. On average he player 27 passes per game this season. At half-time he already had 26 against Mainz. In the end he had 60, including 3 key passes. Müller disrupted Mainz’s back five, dropped back to support Lahm and Thiago, and pushed Mainz’s offside line by spearheading the attack or with wide runs to the flanks. Moreover, he incorporated unorthodox, creative ideas in his combinational play with Robben (back heel passes) and Lewandowski (one-twos), which also invigorated Bayern’ game.
In any case, the first half was a strong testament of the four offensive players to be included in the starting XI in the upcoming games. There is hardly a Bundesliga team, that’s able to defend their individual qualities and their drive towards the goal over 90 minutes. That was also the case against Mainz. Especially the occupation of the penalty area in high possession was very good. Even though, this created additional challenges for the defence, which became evident in the second half. Three goals were enough to win the game.
Thomas Müller made a step in the right direction, despite missing a big chance, because he demonstrated how valuable his skill set can be for Bayern’s game, even when he doesn’t put the ball in the back of the net himself. When Müller played good, Bayern played good. And vice versa. There is only little to add about the relevance of the co-captain.
2. Good substitutions, no adjustments
Carlo Ancelotti is under special observation in the current weeks. He recently has been criticised for having too little influence during the game. Against Mainz his decisions had strong and weak aspects.
The substitutions of Ribery and Kimmich were right and also at the right time. It was logical to bring on Costa and Vidal in a phase in which Mainz grew stronger and tried to take control of the game. Nevertheless, it has to be mentioned, that the simple shift from a 5-3-2 to 4-4-2 by Mainz in the second half was enough to disrupt Bayern’s game.
After 60 minutes Mainz advanced their pressing and sent six players forward to take away Bayern’s easy solutions. Bayern’s game became tough, cumbersome and tame. Ancelotti didn’t help his team in that phase. The substitutions didn’t lead to adjustments. It worked out in the end. Especially, because Bayern won the decisive duels at their own penalty area in Mainz strongest phase between the 60th and 80th minute and thus prevented real scoring chances.
3. Neuer is allowed to catch a ball once in a while
I want to make that point. Knowing, that one can misinterpret it. No, the goal by Mainz was not Neuer’s fault. No, the goal against Leverkusen that levelled the game at 1-1 last week wasn’t either. Nevertheless, there remains a feeling after the difficult last weeks, that the goalkeeper Neuer could do a little better to support his hardly stable team just a little more.
For the third time in a row, after Dortmund and Leverkusen, the first chance for the opponent lead to the first goal on the scoreboard. I repeat: It’s not about making an error. But after the game against Ingolstadt, there has not been a match that comes to mind, in which Neuer kept his team in the game with his saves.
In this Bundesliga season Neuer saved 0.8 shots inside the penalty area per game. The lowest value of his career. This also doesn’t have to get the alarm bells ringing, due to the low number of conceded shots. Nevertheless, one thought crossed my mind in the game against Mainz: “Neuer is allowed to catch a ball once in a while.”
|1. FSV Mainz 05 – FC Bayern 1-3 (1-2)|
|1. FSV Mainz 05||Lössl – Balogun, Bell, Hack (62. Öztunali) – Bussmann – Donati, Frei (72. Latza), Ramalho (81. De Blasis), Malli, Brosinski – Cordoba, Onisiwo|
|Bench||J. Huth – Bungert, Bussmann, Seydel|
|FC Bayern||Neuer – Kimmich (77. Vidal), Martínez, Hummels, Alaba – Lahm, Thiago – Robben, Müller (87. Sanches), Ribéry (66. Costa) – Lewandowski|
|Bench||Ulreich, Bernat, Rafinha, Boateng|
|Goals||1-0 Cordoba (4.), 1-1 Lewandowski (8.), 1-2 Robben (21.), 1-3 Lewandowski (90.+1)|
|Cards||Yellow: Cordoba, Bell, Balogun / Martínez, Lewandowski|
|Referee||Daniel Siebert (Berlin)|