FCB labours to win in Klein-Anfield
The hosts from Klein-Anfield played generally in a 3-4-3 with some interesting ideas. In possession, Gouweleeuw moved from his position in the center of the chain into the midfield to help counter Bayern’s press. Against the ball he sometimes fell behind the line and played a sweeper kind of last man role. Augsburg’s forwards Hahn, Richter and Vargas frequently rotated in order to search the well-known spaces between Bayern’s chain.
Flick made only one change compared to the Freiburg match, Lucas Hernández started for Davies as left back.
Augsburg started courageous but harmless. Flick’s team controlled the game and the high press led to numerous interceptions high up the pitch that Bayern tried to convert quickly.
At times, Augsburg played with 7 men very deep, close to or in their own penalty box. Accordingly Bayern’s crosses often were cleared by the many heads and feet of Augsburg.
In the 12th minute Robert Lewandowski scored his 22nd goal of the season from a penalty kick, after Rani Khedira had fouled Lucas Hernández.
Bayern continued to control the game throughout the entire half. The counterpressing was very effective and led to a couple of medium quality chances including one shot hitting the goalpost. Overall Bayern’s 12 shots to Augsburg’s zero summarizes the dominant performance of Flick’s eleven.
Heiko Herrlich apparently made his team believe that Bayern would be beatable during the break. Augsburg again startet ambitious, when FC Bayern seemed to be a bit uncoordinated.
Augsburg’s chances improved yet were not very threatening until Pavard provoked a handball penalty in the 75th minute. André Hahn missed the huge chance to equal the game when he hit the post.
Bayern didn’t improve afterwards and Augsburg couldn’t either. The match went on in a turbulent manner but without dangerous chances for Augsburg, so that FC Bayern would eventually win 1-0 and conclude the Hinrunde with 39 points.
Neuer and his defense were lucky but finally completed a match with a clean sheet for the first time in the Bundesliga since matchday 5 against Eintracht Frankfurt. It’s also worth noting that this tied Oliver Kahn’s record of 196 clean sheet’s in the Bundesliga.
In the first half the team worked very focused and didn’t allow Augsburg to create any chances. Be it a matter of concentration, stamina or lacking squad depth, they could not uphold the same defensive quality in the second half.
In the 67th minute Flick substituted Sané and Tolisso for Lewandowski and Gnabry. The changes worsened Bayern’s quality not only in a decreasing attacking output but also led to inferior defensive robustness. Sané had a couple of quite unforced dispossessions when he dribbled in central areas of the pitch presumably falling into Augsburg pressing traps. Tolisso didn’t do any better when he lost the ball before Augsburg’s penalty.
Eventually Musiala was a gleam of relief when he was subbed in in the 80th minute and Javi Martinez was added to save the final minutes.
But still, the match suffered significantly from Tolisso’s and Sané’s performance. Instead of adding value from the bench, Flick currently has a problem when he is forced to balance the minutes of his first eleven.
The reigning treble champions finished another half Bundesliga round on the top of the table. Despite all issues in game quality and lacking dominance compared with previous seasons, that is a remarkable success for Hansi Flick and the entire team.
Throughout Europe all of the super clubs of the last years are struggling: Liverpool, City, Juventus, Real and Barcelona, none of these six giants sits atop their table. Bayern does. Flick and the team deserve some recognition for it. And trust to improve again in spring.