Convincing Bayern Overpower Hoffenheim
Both teams entered this game with two back-to-back wins without conceding any goals. Bayern wanted to extend their 7-point gap to Leipzig while Hoffenheim wanted to escape the middle of the table and fight for the European spots.
Hansi Flick went with his trusted defense from last season, as Pavard replaced Süle at right back. Marc Roca replaced Goretzka in midfield to make his first Bundesliga start this season. Coman replaced Sané on the wing and with Gnabry on the right completed Flick’s favoured wing duo.
Hoffenheim started off strong, with Bebou coming close to scoring in the opening thirty minutes. In this opening phase Hoffenheim frequently benefited from a disorganized Bayern defense. Soon after, Boateng opened the scoring with his first Bundesliga goal since 2018. Thomas Müller, in his classic Raumdeuter role, then extended the lead. Only for Kramarić to pull one back for Hoffenheim just before the break.
Bayern went on to play a convincing second half and due to goals by Lewandowski and Gnabry, Hoffenheim’s hope to turn the game around were shattered. This second half was a half where Bayern had a large amount of possession and did not lay back. Hoffenheim’s late push for a goal was to no avail.
Ongoing defensive woes
One of Bayern’s key concerns recently has been the defense. In press conferences, Hansi Flick regularly gets asked about this and his answer is usually the same: he wants to keep the high-line pressing as the key defensive concept. A problem in recent weeks was that opponents often outplayed Bayern’s defensive plan with long balls over the defense. Today this was less of a problem.
However, today a big problem was the space left between the two central defenders. This can be clearly seen at Hoffenheim’s goal and Bebou’s big miss in the 26th minute. Also, Bayern appeared to not be well prepared for quick attacks and Hoffenheim frequent switching of play between flanks. This further adds to the fierce debate among Bayern fans recently on why Alaba and Boateng usually get the nod over Lucas Hernández who, whenever he does play, usually puts in exceptionally good performances, which most recently became evident against Augsburg. Süle should also be mentioned in this discussion, a once very trusted defender, he is not playing a significant role at the moment, only occasionally playing and even then sometimes out of position.
Manuel Neuer rescued the defense with outstanding saves yet again. He made two saves where most keepers would watch the ball fly into the goal, this world class level of goalkeeping is incredible to see. But these saves should not have to be made every game, the duty of the defensive players should be to prevent Neuer from having to save so much.
Shifts in midfield
Another key talking point is Leon Goretka’s absence from midfield. To fill this gap Flick decided to give Marc Roca his first Bundesliga start. Roca is a completely different midfielder than Goretzka. The Goretzka-Kimmich pivot works well due to Goretzka’s dynamism and Kimmich’s creativity. With Roca this dynamic changed, Kimmich played more of a box-to-box role while Roca took over the duty of setting up play from deep.
Overall, this new duo did a decent job. Kimmich excelled in a way that is now almost expected of him. Roca was a very solid passing option in possession, but a weakness was when Bayern lost the ball. He lacked the speed and athleticism to track back and he was not always present to aid the defense.
Offensively this was a very persuasive performance. Scoring four goals against a team that had not conceded for three games is an extremely good statistic. In general Bayern have been extraordinarily strong attacking wise this season, scoring 57 goals in only 19 league games. How are Bayern so strong in attack this season and this game?
The obvious answer here is due to the incredible season that Lewandowski and Müller are having, who have a very special connection on the pitch. This became evident yet again in the 2:0 where the level of understanding between the two can be seen extremely clearly.
Another reason for this is that Bayern attack with a considerable number of players. Bayern constantly attempted crosses today where multiple players were in the box. Bayern’s wingers often went into one-on-one duels with their defender and created dangerous chances this way. Bayern’s defenders often got involved with the attack too. The fullbacks were always an option on the side and David Alaba frequently ran forward to aid in the attack.
One thing that was very noticeable today and less so in other games recently was the winners’ mentality of the players and the desire to keep on attacking. Bayern were often credited with their amount of communication on the pitch and this was very evident today. Even when the game had already been decided at the end, the players continued to scream at one another to motivate their team mates and remind them of their duty.
After Bayern’s defense was caught sleeping at the start of the second half, Bayern quickly went on to recover from this and continue to put Hoffenheim under pressure. There was always a desire to keep on scoring and not fall back into their own half.
This article was written by Robin, a regular contributor at Bavarian Tweets.
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