Bayern Draw with Bremen

Marc Separator November 21, 2020

The match actually started off relatively well. Bayern having good possession, several promising chances and looking like it would only be a matter of time before the onslaught began. Then two things happened around the same time. First Lucas Hernandez was forced to exit the match after landing jarringly on his hip following an arial challenge. This forced Bayern to move Alaba to left back and Javi Martinez to center back. The second thing that happened was Werder releasing Rashica on the wing and using him and Sargent to create counterattacking chances.

These counterattacks continued to increase in frequency and danger until they finally got the breakthrough in the 45th minute through Eggestein. Sargent would blow past Javi Martinez and into the right quarter of the box before playing back a perfect pass for Eggestein who blasted it home for the 0-1. The second half would continue much this way. Bayern would show glimpses of improvement and then allow a counterattack that Manuel Neuer was forced to clean up. However, Leon Goretzka and Kingsley Coman would team up for the only goal of the second half. Goretzka’s inch perfect cross onto Kingsley Coman’s head was beautiful and Coman did exactly what he needed to to level the match. Both teams would have several more chances but ultimately it ended in a draw.

Injury Problems

With Hernadez going down, things are getting very close to a breaking point for Bayern. Alaba, who hasn’t played as a left back in nearly a year now has been forced back to the position. In today’s match, Kouassi and Richards were the only defensive players available on Bayern bench. Roca and Goretzka were the only midfielders. While there are some players that may be available outside of those mentioned (Süle and Tolisso in particular), things in both positions are coming to a head.

As much as I love Javi Martinez, his best days are behind him. He works well as a “joker” coming off the bench for 25-30 minutes, but asking him to play 90 minutes on a regular basis is asking for trouble. He was exposed multiple times by Sargent in this match and if that was a better player, Neuer would almost certainly have been picking up the ball from the net more than once. Additionally Pavard continued his run of poor form and Alaba looked less than comfortable at left back, though I would expect him to figure that out relatively quickly if he’s forced to play there consistently.

Meanwhile the midfield is almost completely nonexistent. Goretzka did a great job trying to be everywhere, but especially in terms of cleaning up messes left by defensive blunders. However there is really no transition from defense to the attack. All of the build up and offense is coming through the wings. The center of the pitch is completely unoccupied until the ball reaches Müller’s position. While, I think we all still expect Goretzka and Tolisso to be the primary options there, the question of how those two can correct these issues are very real.

Lewy gone missing

For a match that started with five attacking players, the offense never really got going and a big part of that is they struggled to get the best striker in the world involved. This seems especially odd given that we had our cross happy wingers playing in Costa and Coman.

The reality however was that neither Müller nor Lewandowski had any tremendous impact on the match. Musiala seemed the most involved out of the 3 central attacking players and while I liked his game, I think he may also have been the issue. Not Musiala himself but simply the addition of a third player into that central area. The three of them never really seemed to gel the way that we have come to expect from Müller and Lewandowski. They seemed to lack the space that they needed and struggled to find the openings that they wanted. Of course Bremen deserves credit as well for their defensive work, but I think this more had to do with having too many players in too small a space.

While this was a worthwhile experiment and it was good to see Musiala get a start, I don’t think this is something that should become a regular occurrence. I would much rather see Musiala start either on the wing or in place of Müller. However, that will probably require Hansi Flick to start placing some trust in Marc Roca to enable Goretzka and Tolisso to catch a break without changing the system entirely.

Man of the Match

The actual man of the match is probably Milot Rashica, however since we only care about Bayern here, Manuel Neuer get’s the nod. Neuer once again saved Bayern countless times from the brink of defeat. Bremen had a multitude of chances on the counter and created some fantastic opportunities only to be foiled by Manuel Neuer. One memorable moment early in the first half saw Josh Sargent beat an admittedly banged up Hernandez and get a volleyed shot off from inside the 6 yard box only to have Neuer reject him with a leg. The resulting rebound fell to Eggestein who hit a very nice shot to the low corner but Neuer was ready and made a fantastic diving save.

Unfortunately for the goalkeeper, he may need to get used to these onslaughts, if he’s not already. The aforementioned injury issues in the squad are likely to continue to result in defensive frailties and Bayern will be relying on his wall like presence to rescue them. The captain seems up for the challenge but will no doubt be hoping for speedy recoveries from key players to make his life a little easier.

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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  1. First, I actually liked Flick’s out of the box thinking for the midfield. He always appears to me as a thoughtful and do-things-step-by-step not disrupting things too much, so even though it did not work as well as he might wish for, that was a surprising and interesting experiment, it also demonstrates that he’s not afraid to thrown in young player. For Musiala he did not make an impact, but he was not terrible either, this should be a very good experience for him.

    With this setup I think the plan was already to be less reliant on midfield control, but playing more direct to the attacking line, using 1 extra body to keep pressure. This somehow reminds me some matches during Pep’s era, when we played with Vidal as the sole 6, serving 4 attackers behind Lewandowski. Of course he had better fullbacks (or in better form) with different role back then.

    This approach actually makes a lot of senses to me, because:
    – To simplify, our midfield consists of a controller (Kimmich) and a connector (Goretzka), with Kimmich down and the player Roca does not exist, we lose both, since Goretzka has to become the poor man controller, and no effective box-to-box to replace himself. Unless Tolisso suddenly evolves, changing the play is a good option to explore, since would never have the same kind of midfield control.
    – The Dortmund match shows we can play well and win games with that non-existent midfield setup.

    Yesterday we didn’t win because the whole team was not in sync, as well as conceding cheap opportunities, i.e. the 0-1 was very cheap. Not necessarily keeping exactly the same personnel and formation but I would not necessarily ditch this experiment going forward. Of course Flick knows better.

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    1. I am certainly not going to argue with you about trying things out. This match was unique from a lot of perspectives and trying something new makes sense. I suppose I also would not kill him for trying it again, but I do think it causes a lot of problems for Lewandowski and Muller. I do not remember a single instance where the two of them thrived in such a system and I think that’s largely because of the reasons I mentioned above. If he want’s to play with 5 attackers, I think playing a second striker might be the better option rather than two attacking midfielders.

      The other thing is that if this type of system does not work against the Werder Bremen’s of the world, who can it be used against successfully? Hansi is going to have to find some solution regarding the 2 positions that occupy the 6 and 8 in his system. It is too important to how Bayern play to simply ignore. Unless he starts showing a lot more faith in Roca soon, there is no real replacement for Kimmich, so some modification of the system is needed but I don’t think a system that basically ignores the middle of the pitch is going to work against anyone of substance. That being the case, Goretzka and Tolisso are going to have to figure things out and we’re all going to have to pray for no further injuries in either backline or midfield because things have already reached crisis levels.

  2. Sadly reminiscent of the worst of the LVG/Pep days…slow lazy buildup, boring sideways/backward passing in the dreadful “U” formation…all of our wonderful, fast skillful players left to negotiate a parked bus forest of defending players and a tantalizing farmer’s field behind the half line defensive line for any half-assed opposition to exploit on the break after one errant mistake…There has got to be a better plan B when we don’t want to expend too much energy. Also, sorry to say, the team needs to learn more defensive tactic/skill…I love MIA SAN MIA but could we not have MIA SAN STUPID?

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