Bayern and Leipzig’s goalless draw leaves the title race open
Due to Leipzig’s recent dip in form, Bayern were able to take 1st place in the Bundesliga table last week. A win in the fixture now would allow them to further distance the competition.
Hansi Flick made no experiments and started the game with his team lining up very much as expected. He made two changes from the 4-3 victory against Hoffenheim: Thiago and Goretzka returned to the team while Coutinho and Tolisso dropped to the bench. Gnabry switched to left wing with Müller taking his place on the right. As per usual, he would interpret his position in his own, particular way.
As for Leipzig, Julian Nagelsmann opted for making a few more changes. Compared to the 3-1 defeat in Frankfurt, Gulácsi, Adams, Olmo and, of course, Werner came in. Tactically, the team played in a 5-4-1 formation against the ball, a very conservative approach. In possession, it changed to a 4-1-2-3.
The game started without a long phase of hesitation on either side. Bayern started the better team and immediately got the majority of possession. They were able to create some half chances in the first 15 minutes. Leipzig opted for a midfield press and wanted to hit Bayern on the break.
After the very lively early stages, the game calmed down a bit and became more balanced. Leipzig managed to execute their pressing better. As a consequence, Leipzig got a few chances, most notably through Werner. On the other side of the pitch, Bayern failed mainly on the final pass, regardless of whether they broke through on the left or right wing. Sometimes more would have been possible.
In the final phase of the first half, Bayern looked more dominant again. After a cross from Müller, Lewandowski had the best chance of the game. Unfortunately, Upamecano was able to block his shot for a corner (39.).
And so the game remained goalless at half-time. Both sides invested a lot without finding a way to really cause problems for the other side.
Both teams returned to the pitch without a change in personnel. Immediately after the restart, Leipzig had some of the best chances of the game. First Sabitzer missed, then Werner after a mistake by Neuer. On the opposite side, the VAR correctly brought back a penalty for Bayern. The game picked up speed and both sides made more mistakes – mostly, however, on the part of Bayern.
Flick reacted very early for his standards and brought Coutinho for Gnabry, who clearly was not yet back to his 100% after his injury. Little later, Leipzig broke through again on the left wing, but Werner missed scoring the lead alone in front of Neuer. For Flick this was the signal to make another change. He brought Hernández for Boateng.
The change calmed the game down from Bayern’s perspective. Defense and midfield became more compact and Hernández was able to clear some situations with his physical presence. As a result, the balance of the game tilted back towards Bayern. In the 79th minute, Goretzka had had the best chance for Bayern until that point after a combination with Lewandowski, but he failed to get the ball past Gulácsi.
In the end, both teams parted ways in a 0-0 draw and both teams can be satisfied. Bayern, because they could just as well have lost the game considering Leipzig’s surplus of chances in the second half. On the other hand, the visitors were all at sea in the first 45 minutes, although Bayern did not manage to use their superiority to create a plethora of chances.
The one thing that has to be singled out for criticism most about Bayern’s game is that they were not able to create enough clear-cut chances from their many breakthroughs on the wings, especially by Davies and Pavard. Pavard alone had four crosses in the first 45 minutes, most of them from a good position. On the opposite wing, Davies and Gnabry could create several good opportunities for Lewandowski, Goretzka or Müller to score. Also without success. From a clearly superior position (71 % ball possession in the 1st half) Bayern only managed to hit two shots on goal: One a shot from distance from Thiago and the other a promising chance for Lewandowski before the break. A touch too little for Bayern’s high work-rate, which perhaps also resulted in the noticeable lack of strength in the second half.
What has been in evidence in recent weeks was also evident today: FC Bayern lacks a cruise-control mode. The team made far too many simple mistakes in the second 45 minutes and also played too many risky passes. As a result, their positioning during transition was not ideal. Leipzig could at times overrun their defense a with a surplus of speed and came to great chances. It was only with the substitution of Hernández that Bayern gained more control. The team started defending from the front again and was able to regain control for the last 10 to 15 minutes of the game. That was at least some improvement on the game against Hoffenheim.
It was a six-point match in two ways. With a win, Bayern could have advanced their lead on both Leipzig and Dortmund. This was not successful. Over the full 90 minutes, they lacked consistency and ideas on how to score goals. They put too much emphasis on crosses, although they created their clearest chances through the centre. But Leipzig cleverly defended all of Bayern’s efforts with its back five. At times, Flick’s team had no real winger on the pitch and failed to make profitable use of the combined strength of Thiago, Kimmich and Coutinho in midfield.