Continued Disappointment in Frankfurt
The good news is that Jerome Boateng, Leon Goretzka and Javi Martinez all managed to find their way back into the squad and Boateng even earned himself a start. However, that didn’t prevent significant changes yet again to the starting eleven and in some awkward positions. Yet again, Süle was forced to play as a right back with Pavard out though Covid and Sarr out because no one trust him. Choupo-Moting again started for the Covid riddled Thomas Müller and Mark Roca earned a rare start with the midfield depleted thanks to Corentin Tolisso’s injury this week.
The first half proved to be one of the worst Bayern have played all year. It would only take 12 minutes for Daichi Kamada to put Eintracht in front after his teammates completely destroyed a woeful Bayern defense. Bayern somehow managed to keep Frankfurt off the scoreboard a second time until the 31st minute when Amin Younes received the ball on the edge of the box, took a touch and hit a wonderful shot into the top corner. He had far too much space and if we had an actual right back instead of Süle they may have been able to defend it, but the shot was fantastic and he deserves all the credit.
Half time saw one change for Bayern as Hansi Flick brought on Goretzka for Roca. The change seemed to work well and Bayern came out a much better side in the second half. Robert Lewandowski would score 8 minutes after the restart following a fantastic run from Leroy Sané and a beautiful pass into the striker for a tap in. Bayern would continue to have the better of things for most of the second half, and even had several very good chances but never found the equalizer and the match ended in another defeat to the hands of Frankfurt. Worse, Leipzig now have a chance to close the gap at the top of the table to two points if they win tomorrow at Berlin.
This time of year always seems to bring about a rash of injuries. Unfortunately, with the insane schedule Bayern has been playing since last March, it’s even less surprising that things are getting ugly now. Of course the Covid cases are even more unfortunate and seemingly preventable which makes it all worse, but it’s hardly surprising that Bayern are missing a load of players right now.
However, that still leaves some questions. Does anyone know why Musiala went from Hansi Flicks favorite Joker to a player that now struggles to get any match time at all? Even as someone who still actually sees a place for Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting at Bayern, Musiala seems like the better option to take on Müller’s role right now. Choupo-Moting simply does not bring the same dynamism that Müller does and while maybe Musiala isn’t quite at his level either, he certainly seems a lot closer.
Especially in the first half when Flick was playing with two deeper lying midfielders, there was a strong disconnect between the defense and attack. Müller tends to put in a lot more effort defensively and fall further back which leads to far more cohesion. Flick solved this today by putting on Goretzka for Roca and having Goretzka play as a “super eight” (yes I just made that up) where he basically tried to fill two roles as a six on defense and ten on offense. This effectively negated Choupo-Moting’s consistently high positioning.
However, you wonder if it wouldn’t have been better simply to play Musiala in that ten position or even Goretzka for that matter, from the get go. While Roca was certainly not great in this match, it also didn’t really feel like he was the problem. Everyone was terrible in the first half and while it might not have changed much, I still believe a hard working Musiala would have helped with the buildup and possession far more than Choupo-Moting did.
The other obvious issue was Süle at right back. While I’d say it’s fair to question whether Sarr is Bayern material, most of his performances haven’t been that bad. Not too long ago we were all wondering if he shouldn’t be starting in front of Pavard.
While Süle playing right back is better than a lot of us may have anticipated, myself included, it is still a very poor option. It’s true that he is pretty fast when he gets going and is even reasonably quick given his size, he is simply outmatched when facing speedy wingers. Obviously Flick is seeing Sarr every day in practice and is unhappy with his performance but I still wonder at times if we wouldn’t be better off at least trying to start him and if it’s not working make a change at the half, especially now that we have five substitutes.
Bayern have another quick turn around as they will travel to Rome to take on Lazio on Tuesday for the Champions League. Since their 4-1 win against Hoffenheim, Bayern labored their way to victory’s at Hertha Berlin (0-1), Al Ahly (0-2) and Tigres (1-0), drew with Armenia Bielefeld (3-3) and lost to Eintracht Frankfurt. That is not exactly the form you would hope to see the club in as they head into the Champions League knockout stages.
Based on the playing time allocated today, I would assume that Goretzka will likely get the start on Tuesday leaving right back and the ten position as the two main question marks. Most likely we will see Süle yet again at right back and probably Choupo-Moting on the ten but maybe Hansi Flick has a few tricks up his sleeve. In either case, Bayern are going to have come out far better than they have in recent matches.
We can make all the excuses in the world (legitimate as they may be) about missing players but a huge part of the issues recently has simply been the lack of energy and effort early on. Today was probably the best (worst) example of that. They were completely flat for the first 45 minutes and they gave up two goals as a result. Lazio will present an even greater challenge than Frankfurt and if they come out with no energy and effort again, things could get ugly very quick. I expect that the boys will be up for Tuesday’s match but when you’re constantly trying to “flip the switch when it matters”, eventually you’re going to come up empty.