Lewy Sinks Augsburg
Julian Nagelsmann made several changes to the side as expected given the importance of Tuesday’s second leg tie in the Champions League. Manuel Neuer started in goal as usual. Benjamin Pavard and Dayot Upamecano started as well but Tanguay Nianzou and Omar Richards replaced Lucas Hernandez and Alphonso Davies, respectively. Joshua Kimmich of course started in the midfield but was joined by Leon Goretzka who was in for Jamal Musiala. In attack, Serge Gnabry, Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski all kept their spots but were joined by Leroy Sane who came in for Kingsley Coman.
For all of us expecting a bounce back performance, it became clear early on that it was unlikely to happen. Once again, Bayern looked flat out of the gates. The first half rolled by with very little in the way of chances for either side.
There were four shots a piece from the two sides with only one a piece being on target. All of Bayern’s were taken from outside the box as well compared to 2 inside from Augsburg. While these statistics can be misleading at times, in this case they also felt right by how the half went. Neither team produced much but Augsburg’s chances felt slightly more dangerous.
Nagelsmann would make one change at the half bringing on Musiala for Gnabry. Musiala’s dribbling ability was a nice feature given how poor the passing was on the day but he didn’t have a huge impact. Just twelve minutes later, Marcel Sabitzer and Alphonso Davies would replace Goretzka and Richards.
These substitutions had a far greater impact overall. Sabitzer was easily the most impactful midfielder on the day and Davies immediately started causing problems for Augsburg on the left. Coman was brought on eight minutes after those two for the ineffective Sane moving Musiala over to the right.
While these changes sparked a little bit of life into the side, the team still struggled mightily to find any kind of purchase in the attacking third. Truth be told, Bayern still only looked slightly better at all.
However, Augsburg also never looked overly likely to do much. As the match progressed, it became increasingly obvious that Augsburg would be more than happy to escape Munich with a point.
Those dreams were dashed however in the 82nd minute. Davies whipped in a cross to Lewandowski who headed towards goal but Reece Oxford had his hand extended which ultimately blocked the balls path resulting in a penalty. Lewandowski stepped up to take it of course and buried it to make it 1-0.
This appeared to give Bayern a little bit of momentum and confidence as they looked more likely to score again in the remaining eight minutes than they had for the vast majority of the opening 80. However they wouldn’t add to their total ending the match 1-0 while maintaining their nine point lead over BVB in the table.
Perhaps the most disappointing and unforgivable display on the day was the abysmal passing. While there will be a few external factors that contributed to this, ultimately it was more a result of poor attention to detail and unforced mistakes.
What’s most distressing is some of the culprits. While we hope more from the likes of Omar Richards and Nianzou, I feel like a few misplaced passes from them is somewhat understandable. Who you don’t expect to have this kind of problem is Kimmich.
Our midfield engine had a very bad day in this regard. Seemingly every few minutes he was making a pass that had neither the correct weight or direction. While that’s a bit of an exaggeration, he gave the ball away a lot for any first team player, much less a player we rarely see making simple errors.
He was not the only one and I’m not going to point out every player, but come Tuesday night the team has to be more focused and clinical in how they move the ball. These types of mistakes are avoidable and can ultimately make the difference between winning and losing in such an important match.
The passing of course had a major impact on the attacking side of the ball yet again. This time however, you almost have to feel sorry for the attackers. The defense and midfield really struggled to get them involved for much of the match.
Even when they did get the ball into the final third, they then struggled to do much of anything besides swing in a cross here or there. The middle of the pitch has become so rarely used in the last few matches that Muller and Lewandowski barely feel involved.
Nagelsmann needs to find a way to utilize the middle of the pitch more and open up the wings to expand the defense. The last few matches, it has seemed as though the entire center of the box was clogged up as none of the wingers have been very successful in beating their defenders and instead have forced in increasingly desperate crosses.
In my humble opinion though, I think there has been a bit of confidence issues over the last few matches. Things haven’t really been going right and when that happens it’s very easy to feel as though there is a cloud following you as a player.
As talented as these players are, most of the time it only takes a little nudge to push them out of this type of funk. The life that they showed after Lewandowski’s penalty showed that they’re not that far from picking things up again.
Hopefully that really was all they needed. It won’t be for everyone, but if the likes of Kimmich, Gnabry, Muller and Lewandowski can get their feet under them, Bayern should have a good chance of changing things around on Tuesday and push towards the Champions League semifinals.