Bayern Topple TSG
Jamal Musiala would come in to give Leroy Sané and Kingsley Coman a rest while both Alphonso Davies (hamstring) and Leon Goretzka (illness) missed another match, giving Omar Richards and Marcel Sabitizer an opportunity to get more match time in. The rest of the starting eleven was filled out by Manuel Neuer, Benjamin Pavard, Dayot Upamecano, Lucas Hernández, Joshua Kimmich, Serge Gnabry, Thomas Müller, and Robert Lewandowski.
Hoffenheim meanwhile would line up with Oliver Baumann in goal, David Raum, Bayern loanee Chris Richards, Florian Grillitsch, Stefan Poschand and Kevin Akpoguma in defense, Dennis Geiger, Diadie Samassekou in midfield while Jacob Bruun Larsen, Ihlas Bebou and Andrej Kramaric made up the attack.
The match would start fast for the Munich side as Lewandowski was able to waltz into the box past a languid TSG defense, but he uncharacteristically pulled his chip of Baumann just wide of the post. Just six minutes later Gnabry appeared to put Bayern in front after winning the ball back in the box but it was correctly called back by VAR review for a foul from Musiala.
However in the 16th minute, they would finally get their breakthrough. Easily picking their way through the middle, Pavard, Kimmich, Müller and finally Musiala combined quick passes to set Gnabry free in the box and the winger put it through the legs of a helpless Baumann 1-0.
It would take another 14 minutes but Bayern would add another. Following a turnover in the box, Gnabry blasted the ball to the halfway line, Lewandowski headed on to Müller who brought it down and found Lewandowski again at the edge of the box and the striker hit a wonder-strike into the corner to make it 2-0.
There would be one change at the half as Niklas Süle replaced Hernández. Once again Bayern would nearly get a goal to start the half as Müller would find Gnabry in behind the Hoffenheim defense, but his first touch wasn’t great and he was unable to get his shot past Baumann.
Most of the second half would be about Bayern conserving energy, though they would still have the better of the opportunities. It would take until the 82nd minute for them to find another goal. The recently inserted Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting would find himself in the perfect spot as a poorly cleared ball would be deflected to his feet right in front of goal for him to smash home for the 3-0.
To finish things off, Upamecano would play a fantastic pass to Kingsley Coman who raced in behind the Hoffenheim defense and into the box where he blasted the ball past Baumann to make it 4-0. Lewandowski would end up with one final chance but today was a day for difficult goals, not easy ones for the striker and he once again missed the goal.
With the home win Bayern remain on top of the Bundesliga table and earned Neuer his 300th Bundesliga win, just ten behind Oliver Kahn for the most all time at Bayern. Next Wednesday they will face Borussia Mönchengladbach in the DFB Pokal away match.
For much of this season, Bayern have lived on the left side of the pitch. It’s hardly surprising given the form that Davies and Sané have been in. However, it has left Bayern a little predictable and one sided while leaving Gnabry struggling to get involved.
With Omar Richards and Musiala on the left however, the stronger side was clearly the right as Gnabry and Pavard provided the more stable attack. The result was practically an inversion of the usual with Gnabry being the focal point of the attack.
It would be Musiala who would find himself drifting more and more centrally to provide his trademark dribbles and Gnabry who would provide more of the width. Ideally, this will result in a more balanced attack when Davies returns from injury. While it makes sense to utilize his offensive abilities as much as possible, it would likely help free him up if there was a little more focus on widening the pitch on both sides rather than complete focus on one.
One of the most noticeable improvements through the season thus far has been the continually improving team passing. As the players have become more comfortable with each other and the new setup, the passing has become crisp and efficient in turn.
It has been quite a few managers since we have seen the type of quick buildup through a series of passes that we’ve seen more regularly this season. While Hansi Flick was very efficient in his approach to scoring goals, it tended to be much more direct. Nagelsmann has the team moving the ball around much more like the Pep era than we’ve seen since.
It has been lovely to see the build-up play become more dynamic with multiple players combining for quick passes to open up their opposition. Even when it doesn’t result in a goal, it is putting them in position to get great opportunities and given the quality up front, more times than not these attacks will find an end result.
Today however seemed to bring out the best yet especially with their quick transitions and the variability of their passing. The passing from the back was also on display today as several of their more dangerous moments came from well placed long balls. When this side is able to combine the close quarter quick passes with accurate and dangerous balls over the top, it is nearly impossible to stop them.
Despite the lopsided score lines over the last two matches, the reality is that the Munich side has only really dominated about 20 minutes of the 180 they’ve played. While this was fairly understandable after going up 5-0 in the first half against Leverkusen, the first 80 minutes against Benfica were slightly more concerning.
Today however, the team came out from the opening whistle and completely dominated their opponents. While Hoffenheim would have a few brief periods where they appeared more involved, Bayern were never really threatened.
Every aspect of the squad performed well. The defensive unit did well to prevent the few opportunities TSG had from materializing. The midfield controlled the center of the pitch and the attack was quick and dangerous. While Hoffenheim certainly didn’t have the best of matches today, this felt more like Bayern dominating than it did like them failing.