Back to winning ways against Wolfsburg
“Same procedure as every week, Bayern?”
“Same procedure as every week, Bundesliga-opponent.”
We know the drill by now, the match starts, it’s kind of iffy at the start, then the opponent goes upfront and Bayern has to drag themselves out of a mess of their own making. Wolfsburg’s two attacking right full-backs Baku and Mbabu were pushing upfront so much that they forced Sané to drop back a lot. He did so diligently but we could also see that for all his new-found defensive passion, he’s hardly a centre- or full-back as his own confusion in Bayern’s box got the worst out of him, leading to a loss of possession and ultimately, to Bayern conceding.
This current Bayern-side visibly struggling with this tough schedule really makes their life needlessly more difficult by constantly letting the opponent take the lead in the opening minutes. That’s the biggest issue Hansi Flick will have to fix over this practically non-existing winter-break.
Saved by the two upfront
As much as there is a pattern at the back, we also have one upfront. If Bayern manages to create anything productive, it’s involving Kingsley Coman and Robert Lewandowski. Things weren’t looking quite as dire as they were last week, as this time the ten-yard passes at least hit their mark. Bayern’s build-up is still a dysfunctional mess, Tolisso seemed wasted as a holding midfielder, why Flick is so adamant against playing Roca is anyone’s guess at this point. From an outside perspective I can just say that the build-up was better when Bayern had a dedicated holding and a dedicated central midfielder on the pitch with Marc Roca and Jamal Musiala.
Anyway, the days when Bayern mercilessly rolled over opponents are gone for the moment. Lewandowski’s equalizing goal was the fifth consecutive Bayern goal assisted by a reinvigorated Coman.
Manuel Neuer for Ballon d’Or
Manuel Neuer is without a question the best Bayern player this season thus far. In fact, as someone who does watch other leagues quite a bit, I’m reasonably confident in calling Manuel Neuer the best football player all around at the moment, period. As much as Lewandowski and Coman get the goals up top, he’s saving the points week in, week out in between the sticks. He has really morphed into a bit of an Oliver Kahn impersonation this season, constantly saving the “Unhaltbare”, i.e. the “unsaveables”. Shots that really have no business not going into goal and Kahn, no Neuer, somehow keeps them out.
Additionally, he’s virtually flawless in his distribution. Other than one spectacularly misplaced pass in the first half, he constantly skipped past Wolfsburg’s press with picture-perfect throws and long balls.
If you really watch him closely these days, you can detect at least three totally outlandish Neuer-actions every game. He has always been great but in this half-season he’s abnormally outstanding even for his standards. Savour what you’re seeing, you might never see a better keeper ever again.