Eintracht were trying to repair some damage after their midweek loss to Erzgebirge Aue in the cup. Armin Veh intended to somehow improve his personal record against FC Bayern (14 losses in 17 league games as manager).
The Reds deviated from their routine and arrived in Frankfurt on match day. Unusual but in this case quite understandable. Pep Guardiola preferred to use the club’s own training facilities and to give his players the luxury of an additional evening at home – and not having to travel to Frankfurt on Thursday.
3 things we noticed:
1. Headlessness in attack
The Reds could neither bring their usual precision nor the necessary pace to the pitch. Only rarely were attacks carried out in a straightforward manner. These attacks were immediately dangerous, like the chances for Vidal (11th minute) or Lewandowski (82nd minute). However, the time interval between these two chances also shows what the game of Bayern was lacking: the passes prior to key passes. Pep Guardiola approached the game very conservatively with a back four, even against a defensive-minded opponent. This led to a build-up play with many situations, especially in the first half, where Boateng, Martinez and Alonso were too close to each other. Especially the two Spaniards could not contribute enough to the build-up play. The burden was unusually heavy on Boateng. He played 21 long passes, making 15 completions. Alonso played only six long passes and only three found a teammate. A roughly equal distribution of the opening ball as in previous weeks could not be seen. Frankfurt used a good positioning of Meier and Stendera to block the passing lanes to Alonso. Long diagonal passes to Costa and / or Coman were rarely played.
Additionally, Bayern made things worse with an error rate that was too high. Vidal and Costa each had 10 bad passes, Robben 8, Lewandowski 7 and Coman 5. The pass success rate of the offensive players was well below 80% and included the countless inaccurate pass attempts into the final third. Especially in the first 25 minutes of the game, Bayern made it too easy for Frankfurt. Afterwards, the Bayern game became increasingly headless. An overall of 20 crosses were played by Bayern in this game, all of them far from dangerous because they were usually played out of the half-field and not from the baseline. The Reds rarely were able to break through to the baseline due to Frankfurt’s situational back five. Furthermore, they weren’t able to exploit free areas by switching the ball from side to side. Costa and Coman didn’t receive necessary support from the full-backs. Rafinha interpreted his role very conservatively and Philipp Lahm cherry-picked his few vertical involvements. Thus creating equal numbers on the wings was almost never possible.
Since Bayern didn’t convert any of their few opportunities (reminder: against Bremen and Arsenal, they didn’t create much more), they remained scoreless for the second time in the last four games.
2. Martinez: the ray of hope
Considering the injuries of Benatia and Badstuber, and the sale of Dante, there was a shortage of central defenders to field next to Boateng. Both Alaba and Martinez have filled this role perfectly so far. Martinez is special because his comeback after 13 months without football is unbelievable. It seems as if he had not been away. Against Frankfurt he won 73% of his tackles, including five headers against Alex Meier. These duels in particular destroyed the build-up play of Frankfurt. Meier was supposed to play lay-offs to Aigner – in theory. Thanks to Martinez, this was achieved rarely. He also had further valuable defensive actions. Twice he was able to intercept the ball and he had four clearances. Only the somewhat soft back pass to Neuer and the goalkeeper’s failed clearance created a touch of danger in front of Bayern’s goal.
Nevertheless, offensively Martinez hasn’t yet found back his old form. The Basque is always looking for a safe passing option. Altogether he played only two long balls – both successful. Apart from that, Martinez cannot be expected to copy Alaba’s dynamic interpretation of the hybrid center back and full back position.
3. Unnerved players
Armin Veh’s team knew quite well how to take the fun out of the game for the Bayern players. This was not only demonstrated by the back-to-back fouls by Aigner shortly after kickoff. After one minute, Frankfurt had already fouled as often as Cologne did in the complete first half last week. Additionally, Frankfurt’s physical approach started to nag on the Bayern players. Zambrano against Lewandowski developed into a constant fight in the second half, where it was mostly Lewandowski who acted too close to the limits. He was kind of unnerved by the physical style of Zambrano and caused six foul calls against Bayern. Also, by increasing theatricality of individual actors, both teams allowed the tension to increase. The winner of this tension was clear – Eintracht Frankfurt. Through many small interruptions they slowed down Bayern’s intended flow of the game and forced a certain nervousness upon the Reds for the last 25 minutes of the game. This led to rushed attacks, but also in permanent attempts to “force” a goal. If, for example, Robben (85th) hadn’t gone down, Costa would have had a good chance of getting a pass inside the penalty area. The tactical means of “forcing it in the penalty box” was not needed this evening. But it showed at the same time that Bayern absolutely were not up to par and did not find playful solutions.
|EINTRACHT FRANKFURT – FC BAYERN 0-0|
|Eintracht Frankfurt||Hradecky – Hasebe, Zambrano, Abraham, Oczipka – Ignjovski, Mejodevic (77. Russ), Stendera (90. Djakpa) – Aigner (88.Reinartz), Meier, Seferovic|
|FC Bayern||Neuer – Lahm (76. Alaba), Martínez, Boateng, Rafinha (51. Müller) – Alonso – Robben, Vidal, Costa, Coman (65. Thiago) – Lewandowski|
|Subs||Ulreich – Benatia, Kirchhoff, Kimmich|
|Goals||– / –|
|Cards||Yellow: Aigner, Seferovic, Abraham, Ignjovski / Lahm, Robben|
|Attendance||51.500 (sold out)|