Bayern Leipzig Top Clash
Hansi Flick therefore had one major decision to make as the majority of the lineup had very few choices: Who to play at striker? Many thought that he may go with the super versatile option with Gnabry, Sané, Coman and Müller playing upfront where they could all interchange as they pleased. However, Flick would go with the straight swap option and put Erik Maxim Choupo-Moting in for the injured Pole. The rest of the line up was as follows: Neuer, Pavard, Süle, Alaba, Hernandez, Kimmich, Goretzka, Sané, Müller and Coman.
The stakes for this match were huge. If Leipzig had any hope of making a serious challenge to the title this season, this match felt nearly like a must win for them. A draw would not be the end of the world but a Bayern win would be devastating. With that being the situation, we all expected a sense of urgency from them. We did not really get it. From the start, Leipzig almost looked as if they would be ok with a draw, which given the situation and players missing from Bayern is headscratchingly bizarre. The first half hour in fact had very little action. Leipzig applied some pressure, Bayern largely played out of it quite easily and neither team had any significant opportunities.
Then in the 38th minute, Thomas Müller took down a ball from Kimmich in the box and found an on running Leon Goretzka who blasted the ball past Peter Gulasci. You might have thought that would spur on the home side but again not much changed following the restart. Bayern in fact had the best chance before the halftime whistle as Sané took down a poorly cleared corner and hit a very nice volley towards the lower corner but Gulasci was there to make the save.
Upon the restart, Bayern again applied pressure in the first few minutes and then Leipzig finally started to show the urgency we expected from the beginning. Bayern barely seemed to see the opposition half of the pitch in the next quarter of an hour but still held firm. Leipzig would continue to have the better side of the action for most of the second half in fact but never really threatened the Munich side and the match ended 0-1 while Bayern extended their league lead to seven points.
My biggest takeaway coming out of this match is how comfortable Bayern was given the situation. As mentioned above, I think a lot of us thought Bayern might struggle in this match with no Lewandowski, very few options at the back and the majority of the squad coming off very heavy international minute loads.
The fact that Leipzig did not come out of the gate with more energy than they did enabled Bayern was able to gain a foothold in this match. That 38th minute goal felt huge as a Bayern supporter as there weren’t many chances to that point and we knew chances would likely be limited. This proved the pivotal goal in the match and maybe the entire Bundesliga season as Leipzig never recovered.
It says quite a lot about Hansi Flick and the entire team that they were able to have as much confidence and control as they were in this match. It also says a lot about where Leipzig is right now. They still have not gotten over that mental hurdle and the lack of a clear number nine is a huge deficiency to overcome when trying to win a league season. While the league technically is not over, it is now nearly unimaginable that Bayern will not win and Leipzig may have just squandered their best chance to upset the Bavarian rule of the Bundesliga.
The second half however showed the wear and tear this team has had over the last few weeks and months. Leipzig certainly increased their pressure and urgency, but Bayern also simply looked tired. Why exactly Löw felt the need to play nearly every Bayern player for 90 minutes in every match is a mystery to all but it certainly had an affect on them.
Unfortunately, there’s really not much time to rest between now and their first leg with PSG on Wednesday. Obviously Lewandowski will also miss that match, however both Boateng and Davies will be available which should help to provide a bit more depth to Hansi Flick.
However, Bayern will have to find a way to play with more energy come Wednesday as PSG certainly have more dangerous players up front than Leipzig. Some of the wayward passes and questionable decisions made in this match could be catastrophic against the likes of Mbappe.
Honestly this one is tough a lot of players had both good and bad moments in this match. Goretzka feels like the easy choice as he scored the match winner but I’m going to go with the player that set it up instead. Thomas Müller’s presence felt huge in this match, from the way the team carried itself to the way it was ultimately won.
While it would certainly be ridiculous to call the midfielder calm, he very rarely loses his composure and that felt like the difference in this match. Bayern kept their composure and did what they needed to in order to win a massively important match without the best player in the world right now. Müller’s influence in that regard is undeniable. He is clearly one of the leaders in the team at any time and tonight he seemed like the leader. Additionally, his assist was a great piece of play from him to take in Kimmich’s pass and know exactly where to look for the oncoming player. They’ll need him to continue that role come Wednesday if they are going to win their quarterfinal draw with PSG.