Opportunistic Bayern Punish Leipzig
Luckily Julian Nagelsmann had a much more full squad available to him as several players returned for the first time this season. Dayot Upamecano, Thomas Müller and Alphonso Davies all managed to get over their injuries in time to make the starting eleven. Lucas Hernández and Benjamin Pavard returned from their preseason injuries as well, while new signee Marcel Sabitzer was fit enough for the bench. Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sané and Robert Lewandowsk filled out the starting lineup.
The match started fairly evenly with Bayern having the slight edge. However a moment of foolishness from Kevin Kampl in the twelfth minute resulted in a penalty which Lewandowski converted to put Bayern up 0-1. Following the goal, the match devolved into some sloppy play with neither side really threatening the other and both playing some very poor passes.
The remainder of the first half saw little in the way of goal threats. Both had a couple of half chances but neither made anything of them. Unfortunately, just before the end of the half Gnabry picked up an injury and was forced off as Jamal Musiala replaced him.
The start of the second half saw no new changes from Nagelsmann. However it took just two minutes for Bayern to find a second goal. Lewandowski who was out on the left wing played Davies forward who whipped in a cross and Musiala brought it down perfectly and hit it directly into the far corner to make it 0-2.
Just three minutes later Leipzig looked to have gotten back in the game with a goal of their own but André Silva was ruled to be just offsides. In the 54th minute however, Lewandowski found Musiala on the right side of the box and the youngster put a perfect pass across the goal for an easy Leroy Sané tap in 0-3.
However the three goal lead would last only minutes as Leipzig got one back nearly immediately thanks to a wonder strike from Konrad Laimer. Following the goal, Nagelsmann brought on Sabitzer and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting for Goretzka and Lewandowski with an eye on the midweek match with Barcelona.
The remainder of the match saw Leipzig have the better of the chances as Bayern seemed happy to let them retain possession, however it would be the Munich side that would get the final goal as Kimmich found Choupo-Moting in the 91st minute to make it 1-4.
Coming off our stint with Hansi Flick where pressing was such a focus of his tactical makeup, it has felt odd to watch Bayern concede possession with regularity through the early stages of this Bundesliga season. This was especially noticeable in today’s match. Leipzig were allowed space to operate until they moved around 10 yards into Bayern’s half.
While this will certainly save some energy for the Bayern players and also helps to reduce the amount of quick counters, it also comes with risks. There were times when Leipzig were able to pick through relatively easy passes because of the amount of space they had on the ball. Ultimately, these didn’t result in much today, but against the top sides in Europe, it could become a bigger issue.
It seems as though a little more effort in pressing, especially by the attacking players, at times might be advisable as they could shut down some of those passing channels while still preserving a slightly more conservative back line.
Jamal Musiala’s ascendence into an indispensable part of Bayern’s squad continued today. After replacing the injured Serge Gnabry, the youngster made his presence felt nearly immediately contributing to both of the early second half goals for Bayern.
Not only that, but in both instances, he did a lot of the hard work first bringing down a difficult pass with an incredible first touch to score the goal and then putting in a fantastic pass to Sané to assist the second.
His presence however was felt all over the pitch because of his effort and energy. He is always working and running. He has a Müller-ness about him that leaves you unsurprised to see him pop up in places you might not expect. He consistently makes a nuisance of himself for his opposition when they’re on the ball. But still is able to make himself available regularly in attack.
There have to be few doubters left as to the potential and future of Musiala. The only question remaining seems to be how soon he becomes a permanent fixture in the starting eleven.
Despite the scoreline, Bayern still look a little uncomfortable far too often. This is still largely due to new players and tactics being integrated but we’re starting to get into the meat of the season so to speak. The misplaced passes and positional issues will start to become more problematic if they are not corrected soon.
Barcelona, despite the massive changes, will cause a lot of problems if they cannot control the game better and start to become a cohesive unit. The careless giveaways in particular have been far too plentiful early in the season. With pass percentages (76% today) far below their lofty standard and ability, you would expect them to figure it out, however how long will that take?
The hope obviously is that with more time in training and more games played, that the players will get used to one another rapidly and Nagelsmann’s tactics will become much more familiar. Luckily, the individual talent alone is probably enough at this stage in the season but it will be exciting to see what they can do once things start to really click.