Analysis: FC Bayern Munich – 1. FC Cologne 1-1 (1-0)

Steffen Separator October 1, 2016

A game that looked like a clear win for Munich turned into an emotional game towards the end and finished with an all in all rather unlucky result.

In case you missed it:

As mentioned during the final press conference before the game, Ancelotti mixed up his starting eleven against third-placed Cologne.

Bayern Munich vs 1. FC Cologne, basic formations. Bayern Munich vs 1. FC Cologne, 01/10/2016, basic formations.

Ribéry and Thiago were unavailable due to injury. Alaba, Lahm, Müller, and Vidal were given a break. Robben had his comeback in the first squad, Bernat and Rafinha played as full-backs. Coman, Sanches, and Kimmich were given a spot in the starting 4-3-3 formation.

Peter Stöger, meanwhile, trusted the well-oiled, expected team with Rausch on the left and Osako and Modeste up front. The only change in comparison to the draw against Leipzig was Höger, who started in defensive midfield and replaced Zoller. Hector began in the central midfield.

After two minutes, an energetic Bayern team had their first chance when Bernat completed a nice dribbling to the goal line and made Timo Horn work with his pass into the middle of the penalty box. Afterwards, both teams were trying to get a feel for each other, and Bayern had some occasional attempts. Coman (with a cross) and Robben (shot from 18 yards) tried to get close to goal (11′, 15′), and Bayern stayed in control. Rafinha only just missed the goal after a Robben pass (18′).

Peter Stöger reacted and changed his team’s formation. Hector moved back into the defensive line and they now played in their usual 4-4-2 formation. Cologne looked a lot more stable now and made Bayern’s life – and urge to get into the penalty box – more difficult. It took until minute 39 that Bayern managed to look dangerous in front of Horn again – but when they did, they did it properly: Bernat, with help from Sanches, played his way along the left wing, and his perfect cross found Kimmich, whose run up to goal ended in a header to make it a deserved 1-0. It was the last big moment before half-time.

Robben (7 successful dribbles) stayed in the locker room at half-time and Coman moved to the right wing instead. Müller was brought on.

The German international was involved in the first promising situation for Bayern, when he missed the goal after a pass from Bernat (49′). Cologne now tried to keep the ball amongst themselves more, without much success at first. Bayern still was the only team with any attempts to score. Martínez’ header after a corner bounced off the post (54′).

Stöger reacted after 62 minutes and substituted Özcan and Zoller for Höger and Rausch, both of whom had not impressed. Only a minute later, Anthony Modeste scored the more than suprising equaliser. Risse sent a cross from half-space to Modeste, who started from a position that looked like it might be offside, and pushed the ball past Neuer. A goal from virtually nothing.

Ancelotti reacted as well and brought on Alaba and Vidal for Sanches and Coman (70′). Bernat moved up the field to the more offensive position on the left wing.

From then on, it was an open game with a slight advantage for the home team. Timo Horn stopped Müller from scoring the 2-1 with a fantastic reflex when he deflected his shot from a close distance to the crossbar. Bayern had several more attacks and promising scenes, with Bernat’s free kick yet another hit to Cologne’s post (85′).

Right before the end, Zoller suddenly appeared in front of Neuer, unmarked by Bayern’s defenders, and could have scored a fairly absurd winning goal for Cologne. He missed the goal, although he was all on his own, and the game ended 1-1.

Juan Bernat zeigte sich gegen Köln stark verbessert.(Foto: Christof Stache / AFP / Getty Images)
Juan Bernat was much improved against Cologne.
(Image: Christof Stache / AFP / Getty Images)

3 Things we noticed:

1. Cologne takes its time to confirm premature praise

There has rarely been a team that had as much premature praise before coming to Munich as Cologne did this Saturday. Cologne’s good start into the season and their – slightly construed – similarity to the first team that Bayern lost to this season, Atlético Madrid, there were several things that brought the public to this conclusion. The Rhinelanders couldn’t really confirm all the praise, despite the result.

Cologne began much more defensively and cautiously than expected. The defensive 5-3-2 and just as defensively-played 4-4-2 failed to put Bayern under pressure for 60 minutes. And yet, despite all this, they didn’t look as solid in defense as assumed.

Bayern played good counterpressing for vast stretches of the game, and it was the mismatch of Coman versus Sörensen in particular that led to many good forward pushes on the left. Bayern won 57% of duels, ran as much as Cologne, and had 26:5 shots on goal. Cologne lacked the connection between midfield and offense for big part of the game, Osako and Modeste playing like free-floating particles without any support from midfield. This made it easy for Bayern to control the guests’ long balls.

It was only when Stöger made his late substitutions that they really managed to get in Bayern’s way for a couple of minutes. Zoller and Özcan, unlike Höger, Lehmann, or Rausch previously, were acting much more as supportive players for the two strikers, and were positioned much higher up the field themselves. That way, Cologne managed to create three, four dangerous situations behind Kimmich and Sanches’ backs, who had positioned themselves much higher due to Cologne’s defensive style during the first 60 minutes. That the equaliser happened during this brief phase of chaos was bitter and unnecessary.

Ten minutes later, Bayern had the game back under control and only allowed one absurd Cologne counter-attack, when six Bayern players simply remained standing in Cologne’s penalty box, rather than chasing after the attacking players.

Many will now use the international break to try and construct a negative trend from the two games without victory against Atlético and Cologne. The situation is worth a closer look, however. The lost points from both games are hardly connected and were caused by completely different errors. In spite of all the rotation in the squad, the game against Cologne was better than the victories against Hamburg and Ingolstadt – though of course that doesn’t help Ancelotti’s team in the table. Saturday afternoon was, most of all, a reminder that good opponents can make use of every little slip in concentration. Cologne didn’t need more than ten good minutes to take a point with them from Munich.

2. Bernat finds his form

The Spaniard played a very weak previous season with only 13 starts and a number of bland games and went into the new season with some worries. However, the 23-year-old was much improved against Cologne, and not just because of the part he played in the 1-0.

He continually searched for opportunities to get past Risse or Sörensen, and was successful more often than not. In the second minute, Bernat had his first run into the penalty box, and his assist for the goal was great to look at.

Last season, Bernat lacked trust in himself and it was visible in his 1:1 situations, with only 1.4 successful dribblings per 90 minutes. In the game against Cologne, there were 4 in the first half alone. He had only 0.5 assists in the previous season – against Cologne, it was 7 (!). On top of that were two shots of his own.

The “Eye Test” confirms this impression: Bernat seemed vitalised, won various duels against Risse, and all in all was exactly what is needed from a rotational player: an invigorating element. He has to build on that.

3. Bayern’s midfield with bright and dark moments

Bright: Kimmich. Dark: Everything between minutes 60 to 70.

In all seriousness though. In principle, Kimmich, Alonso, and Sanches worked well together. Kimmich’s run as a goalgetter is starting to get absurd. And despite some horrifying mistakes in passing, Sanches had his best game for Bayern so far; proving for the first time in a Munich shirt that he can get past opponents and put pressure on the opponent’s defense. Alonso benefited from the strong runner Kimmich (12.5 km) and won 8 balls. In addition, Kimmich was striking with intelligent shifts in game to the other wing and good runs into the offensive danger zone.

Still, the game can’t be described without the weak phase around the conceded goal. The high risk in counterpressing was noticeable, especially since the team hadn’t really played it under Ancelotti so far. At times, Bayern managed to constrict the opponent, but the high risk later was one of the causes for trouble when the first tackling went wrong.

The longer this season goes on, the clearer it becomes that the best combination of players in central midfield is essential. Ancelotti has various players with very different abilities – and weaknesses – at hand. Today won’t be the last time we speak about this issue.

FC Bayern – 1. FC Cologne 1-1 (1-0)
FC Bayern Munich Neuer – Rafinha, Martínez, Hummels, Bernat – Kimmich, Alonso, Sanches (70′ Vidal) – Robben (46′ Müller), Lewandowski, Coman (71′ Alaba)
Subs Ulreich – Boateng, Lahm, Green
1. FC Cologne Horn – Risse, Sörensen, Mavraj, Heintz, Rausch (62′ Zoller) – Höger (62′ Özcan), Lehmann, Hector – Modeste, Osako (88′ Rudnevs)
Subs Müller, Jojic, Olkowski, Mladenovic
Goals 1-0 Kimmich (40′), 1-1 Modeste (63′)
Cards Yellow: Martínez / Zoller
Referee Daniel Siebert (Berlin)
Attendance 75.000 (sold out)

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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