Bayern Draw with Bremen
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.
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.
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.
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.