Toothless Bayern eek out Draw with Atletico

Marc Separator December 2, 2020

Not only was the lineup heavily rotated but it also resulted in a formation shift. Flick decided to play with three central defenders and two wing backs and leave Javi Martinez as the lone midfielder while playing his normal four attackers. A curious move as this essentially meant that Bayern was playing with four center backs and two wing backs since Javi played very deep, as you might expect.

The match proceeded about as well as you probably would predict given the massive changes and formational shift. Atletico dominated Bayern for nearly the entire match until the 70th minute when it looked like they started to give up on adding to their lead and instead focused on maintaining it. The Madrid side would end up out shooting the Bavarians thirteen to six but only three to two in the on goal category. To be clear, Atletico should have had far more on goal. They had at least four to five more opportunities where they were gifted opportunities to score and missed the goal by kilometers.

As these things so often go, Bayern would make them pay for those missed opportunities. In the 85th minute, Thomas Müller was brought down inside the box and awarded a penalty. The wily veteran would step up and bury the resulting freekick to earn Bayern an undeserved point. Amazingly still, Bayern would seize upon that momentum and were by far the closer of the two sides to winning the match in the remaining time. While I could sit here and pick apart this performance, there seems to be little reason to do so. So let’s focus on the things that might be positive coming out of it.

You Spin Me Round

As we all know, the schedule is packed. The players are tired, both physically and mentally. Some of them have played nearly every competitive match for seemingly a year, including with their national teams. Bayern had wrapped up the group in the previous match day. All of this inevitably lead to the massive rotation of players in today’s match.

Even the “regulars” who played, outside of Alaba and Hernandez, have not been consistently in the starting lineup of late. Leroy Sane, Niklas Süle and Javi Martinez have all started their fair share of matches from the bench this season. Thomas Müller, Kingsley Coman, Serge Gnabry, Benjamin Pavard and Jerome Boateng all traveled to watch from the sideline but earned some much needed rest. Robert Lewandowski, Manuel Neuer, Leon Goretzka and Corentin Tolisso would all remain behind to rest up for the weekend.

While this resulted in an unsightly performance today, it was unquestionably the right move. Any chance to get those key players more rest should be seized when presented. The good thing is that Bayern only need to muddle through five more matches before they finally get to their shortened winter break. There is also hope that they may get a few more of their players back relatively soon following the restart. With both Kimmich and Davies running outside now. So while the rest of this year may not be the pinnacle of performances, there may just be some light on the horizon.

A Chance to Prove Your Quality

Unlike his predecessors, Hansi Flick has shown his willingness to use young players. Alphonso Davies in particular is a shining example of what can happen when these players are given an opportunity. Today was another chance for him to throw several of the youth players into a big match against a very good European team and get them experience. Jamal Musiala in particular is looking more and more comfortable at this level. He still has things he needs to improve in his game but every time out he seems to take another step in the right direction.

Chris Richards is another that has seemed to grow in his ability as he gets more match practice. A good thing too given that all of the injuries throughout the midfield and defense has required a lot of shifting around and substitutions throughout this season.

Then there is Bright Arrey-Mbi who got his first professional start and Angelo Stiller who was given his second chance this season. The former looked a little overwhelmed at times. A lot of times if we’re being honest, but it is still excellent experience for the 17 year old. Angelo Stiller on the other hand actually looked relatively good in his short time on the field. There were a few mistakes but all things considered it was a very positive performance for the young German.

Man of the Match

This goes to Thomas Müller by default. Honestly, up until his goal, no one in the squad deserved any type of award. Every single player had moments that were awful. Bouna Sarr may have had a good case for being the best of the rotten bunch, but luckily for us, Thomas Müller came in and saved the day. In his 30 some-odd minutes, he impacted the match more than nearly any of the starters managed in 90.

In fairness to the attack, Bayern struggled to get the ball out of their own half the entire first 45 minutes, including some absolutely dreadful passes that seemed to be inteded for Atletico players. The first half performance had me wondering if you somehow assembled the worlds four greatest attacking players up front, if they would have done much better given just how bad the back seven was. The second half however gained some semblance of control and by the time Müller came on Bayern looked slightly less vulnerable in defense and just a tad more dangerous in attack.

By the 75thish minute, the tide had started to shift and Müller nearly grabbed a goal from open play off a long ball that was just a bit to far for him to get his foot to. However, the tricksy German would not be denied. He would get the ball on the edge of the box, dribble inbehind his own player and a defender who left his leg out a little too long and draw an unquestioned penalty. Müller then stepped up to the spot and smashed it home past a diving Oblak who guessed the right direction but still had no chance to save.

While this was a somewhat meaningless match that had no real importance, this is truly a quintessential Müller moment. To drag a team that was absolutely dreadful all day and find an equalizer is an incredible accomplishment. While he obviously has done, and probably will do, far more significant things in his career, it’s little moments like these that cement his legacy. His ability to muster up the drive, motivation and will to overturn such a lopsided match should not be forgotten.

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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  1. Wow, it’s been a long time since I last saw a match where Bayern as a clearly inferior team, maybe the last one was the 1-3 vs Liverpool under Kovac? But of course context is totally different, and considering the 11s yesterday, I can’t complain. Also we have to keep in mind this is Atletico Madrid after all, playing at home, fighting for their qualification, the 1-1 is more than flattering for the young B/C team. But we played decently in the 2nd half, I like it.

    I’m also happy with the draw, because I would feel unfair for Salzburg, they played us much easier so do not “benefit” from playing Bayern’s B team. They did all they could to beat Moscow 3-1 away, so this draw at least gives them a deserved last chance to fight for themselves. I’m impressed with them and I think there is a possibility they can beat this Atletico side next week.

    I kind of like Flick’s experiment with a back-3 yesterday. The midfield was non-existent, but with proper personnel, also on the wing-back position (Davies) this should work much better and give us another option.

    I feel Nubel needs more games, he was a bit nervous and shaky in distribution but I think because he’s lacking match practice. Sane was also unimpressed but I like his effort in defending. A step in the right direction. Musiala is exciting, perhaps we don’t need to find a replacement for Costa next season, and can use the money for another reinforcement (midfield midfield).

    You mentioned only 5 matches to drag through, I’m gonna be even more optimistic and say, only 4 actually, since Flick has another chance to do mass rotation next week vs Moscow. I hope with a valuable rest for most of senior players, we will have a good game this weekend.

    Answer Icon2 RepliesClose child-comments
    1. It really has been a LONG time since I’ve seen this team look that bad. But as you say, there are extenuating circumstances and I don’t think anyone is feeling all that panicked about the performance yesterday. I completely agree with you regarding Salzburg. I genuinely enjoy watching them play. They did well against Bayern both times and deserve a chance to move on against Atletico.

      I have no issue with the formation experiment. Part of me would have liked to see him scrap Martinez and just forgo the midfield, which as you said was non-existent anyways. I actually liked when he brought on Muller for Martinez and thought that they did actually look a bit better from that point forward. I don’t think this is something Flick will actually consider when he has a full squad though. I agree that it could work with better players, especially on the wing. I could make an argument for trying it out at least until Kimmich gets back, but I am pretty sure the change in formation was prompted for no other reason than the players he had available to him in the match.

      Nubel for sure looked nervous at times. I think a lot of that would go away pretty quickly if he were to get more matches. Remember when Sven took over a few years ago, he was also extremely nervous for a few games before settling in and playing fantastic. I suspect he’ll go out on loan after this season as he really does need more match time if he is going to play for the club one day. Musiala unquestionably has a ton of talent. Some of his take-ons are fantastic. He still needs to work on his positioning, vision and end product but given that he’s 17, that’s hardly surprising. There is a good chance he may be the “cheap” option that Bayern need on the wings next season.

      Regarding Sane, I am not going to judge him for anything yesterday. Honestly, I’m not going to judge any of Sane, Costa, Choupo-Moting or Musiala for yesterday. Up till the last 15ish minutes, the ball barely made its way up to them. Yes, none of them really did a whole lot, but how can we expect them to do anything when they barely get a touch of the ball?

      You’re absolutely right regarding the Moscow match. I suspect that match will feature a lot of young players as well. Hopefully they can make it through these final matches, stay healthy and then get some rest for the new year.

      1. Answer IconDurham Bundesliga Fan Page December 3, 2020 - 22:13

        I honestly don’t think the performance was that bad. The formation seemed to be set up to allow the other team possession and defend, which they did to mixed results, but considering the back line it was an ok effort against a Madrid team who really needed to win.
        I felt that they played significant better the second half and really applaud Arrey-Mbi, who had a solid, but unspectacular first game. I say that specifically when comparing him to Nubel, who I felt was troublingly bad. I can overlook missed saves (which due to poor finishing, there were none), but his inability to get the ball to outfield players was indefensible in my book. His play really worries me. I was not as impressed as many at his play at Schalke and this performance only increases my worry.
        Getting a draw out of that game was a win in my book. On to Leipzig, and what promises to be a very lively game.

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