After Borussia Dortmund had dropped points at home, drawing 1-1 against Hertha BSC, this was a big opportunity for Bayern to extend the gap between the two title favorites. All they needed was a win in Frankfurt.
For Bayern, several players didn’t make the squad due to injuries – Martinez, Ribery, Bernat, Costa and Vidal were all missing. Lewandowski too needed a break but at least he was fit enough to be available for a late sub. Surprisingly, Holger Badstuber returned to the team for the first time this season.
3 things we noticed
1. Xabi Alonso out of form
The Spanish veteran’s weaknesses are becoming more and more apparent, while his strengths are currently not having any effect on the Bayern game. Currently, he can’t even handle the slightest pressing. Several awfully misplaced passes in the build-up, a depressingly deep positioning in possession and slow counter-pressing are Alonso’s main characteristics these days. He’s far away from being the Xabi Alonso of a few months ago – with a devastating effect on the Bavarian midfield control. In the first half, only 36 of his 44 pass attempts were successful. At least three of those misplaced passes created a scoring chance for Frankfurt.
While the 34-year-old managed to win the ball four times in the first half and offered a tackling accuracy of 60%, he failed to win most of the important ones. Also apparent was his horizontal passing pattern. Alonso rarely beat Frankfurt’s first line of defense with his passes, causing longer phases of Bayern struggling to enter the opposing half. The Spaniard needs to improve greatly in the upcoming weeks, as his role as midfield anchor is way too vital and replacements are available. Thiago for example looked a lot better there in recent times. Against Frankfurt however, the midfield anchor dragged Bayern down, both with Alonso and Thiago at the helm.
2. The system remains questionable
It is more than fair to doubt Bayern’s current system. Ancelotti’s biggest issue still is the lack of a proper structure. It was far too easy for Frankfurt to attack Bayern’s positions, gaining control in midfield. Neither Alonso nor Kimmich or Thiago managed to control the game. Sometimes, all it took for Frankfurt to enter the unmarked half-spaces was a simple long ball. In defense, Bayern looked chaotic and unorganized. Some players pushed forward randomly, there were no pressing traps to lure the opponent into tight spaces, and only Boateng and Hummels found actual tackling opportunities.
Those struggles have their roots in the rotten positional play. Players occupying the same lines, interfering with each other, being too far away from the opponent after a turnover. When even a mediocre Bundesliga side like Frankfurt has no problems getting into Bayern’s half, something is fundamentally wrong. Despite the injury troubles, this Bayern team offers enough quality to do better. In possession, the collective positioning wasn’t much better. There was an apparent lack of connections between the midfield and the offense. Thomas Müller touched the ball only eight times in the first 30 minutes (he later got to improve that stat due to a positional shift). The wingers, Coman and Robben, hardly got into the game as they weren’t supported at all.
If he doesn’t find solutions soon, Carlo Ancelotti will have to face growing criticism in the upcoming days and weeks. The issues are caused by the system, not the form of individual players, let alone injury troubles. At this point, it is impossible to detect any development. There has yet to be an away match in which Bayern are truly convincing. Bayern took 14 shots, while the hosts had 13 attempts themselves. The passing accuracy turned out to be a mere 80%, including 50 misplaced passes in the attacking third. As of now, this match was the worst performance of the Bayern season, a step backwards instead of progress.
3. Mentality and individual quality aren’t enough
Bayern’s structural problems are often rescued by the individual qualities. In the entire match against Frankfurt, there were maybe two or three smart attacks, everything else was long balls, poor crosses or individual moments. Despite all the criticism, you can’t blame the team’s mentality, as they dealt with the opponent’s physical approach and proved to be tough enough. But that wasn’t enough. The second consecutive draw underlines the problems that we have been discussing for weeks now.
Let’s not forget that the most challenging and important weeks haven’t even begun yet. The fixture list in 2016 still includes all of Gladbach, Dortmund and Leverkusen – teams you don’t beat purely based on individual quality and willpower. Bayern will have to scrutinize several things. While they’re still leading the league, that’s mainly down to the other clubs dropping points as well.
|Eintracht Frankfurt – FC Bayern München 2:2 (1:1)|
|Eintracht Frankfurt||Hradecky – Chandler, Abraham, Hector (70. Tarashaj), Vallejo, Oczipka – Fabián, Huszti, Omar, Rebic (67. Hasebe) – Meier (77. Hrgota)|
|Subs||Lindner, Seferovic, Gacinovic, Tawatha|
|FC Bayern München||Neuer – Lahm, Boateng, Hummels, Alaba – Kimmich, Alonso (46. Sanches), Thiago – Robben (76. Rafinha), Müller, Coman (66. Lewandowski)|
|Subs||Ulreich, F. Götze, Badstuber, Green|
|Goals||0:1 Robben (10.), 1:1 Huszti (43.), 1:2 Kimmich (62.), 2:2 Fabián (78.)|
|Cards||Yellow: Hector, Huszti, Chandler, Hradecky / Alonso, Hummels, Sanches, Lahm; 2nd yellow: Huszti|
|Referee||Bastian Dankert (Rostock)|
|Attendance||51.500 (sold out)|