Bayern lose 2:2 in Augsburg
After the international break was dominated with discussions surrounding benched players, Niko Kovač only put Javi Martínez in his starting lineup. Thus pushing Joshua Kimmich to his right-back position. Thomas Müller was benched once more.
This game being a derby between two sides with cherished histories and traditions, Augsburg immediately created a new tradition. Just like in the last game at Augsburg during the Rückrunde, Augsburg scored in the very first minute. After a throw-in, Rani Khedira was able to head the ball through an unorganized Bayern defense to the free Marco Richter, who was able to beat Manuel Neuer from close distance. For the next minutes after their goal, Augsburg remained on top.
Right before the 10 minute mark, Niklas Süle got injured in a duel with Florian Niederlechner, which gave Marco Richter a good shooting position which he missed.
Niko Kovač chose to surprisingly substitute the injured German with David Alaba who was thought to be unfit to play. Hernández switched to the position of left centre-back.
Bayern equalized with their very first goalscoring opportunity. Javi Martínez played a long ball to the completely free Serge Gnabry who was left so unmarked that he had enough time to control and precisely cross the ball. Robert Lewandowski scored with a difficult header.
A hectic back and forth developed subsequently without clear-cut chances. There were little to no long sequences of passes. In the closing minutes of the first half Bayern increased their offensive output and gained momentum. First Gnabry hammered a lovely volley against the left goal post, then Thiago failed to put the ball in the back of the net from close distance twice against the already partly beaten goalkeeper Koubek. Thus, the first half concluded in a 1:1 draw.
Apparently no substitutions were made at half-time but it seemed like Gnabry was replaced with Arjen Robben. The way he cut inside and scored with his left foot was basically patent infringement.
Shortly after that he dribbled past his defenders and put the ball back to Coutinho who failed to beat Koubek from close distance.
Bayern now controlled the game better without getting clear-cut goalscoring opportunities. The next one came only in the 79th Minute when Lewandowski headed the ball across to the free Coman in the box, who was denied by the improved Koubek.
Kovač only used his remaining substitutions from the 80th minute onward as he first brought on Thomas Müller for the weak Coutinho and then took off Serge Gnabry for Leon Goretzka, who came back after a long injury.
Bayern seemed to settle for a 2:1 win and was at first almost punished as Manuel Neuer had to deny Philipp Max with a strong save only to concede the equalizer in injury time. Cordova beat Lucas Herández, played the ball in the middle where the completely unmarked Finnbogason had to just slot it in.
Stretch the game wide fast, play the ball wide and then cross. That was Bayern’s game. The much-lauded new option of playing through the middle with Philippe Coutinho was nowhere to be seen. The ball was played instead to Gnabry, Alaba, Kimmich and Coman who then put the ball in the middle. If the opponent leaves as much space as he did before the equalizer, that might even work. But the suspicion arises that the Bayern Munich from fall 2019 is very similar to that of fall 2018 – just with Lewandowski in god mode.
Additionally, Bayern also had an unhealthy rush to play vertically. Often times players of Bayern Munich are criticized for slowing down the game and not passing the ball forward enough. Yet playing the ball vertically too often and not enough times horizontally can also result in unwanted consequences. Bayern was not controlling the game for basically the full 90 minutes. Nobody calmed down the game, tried to enforce a strategic build-up in order to dissect Augsburg, to make them tired and force them to make mistakes. Augsburg did make mistakes but those were usually not forced by Bayern.
Javi Martínez had to wait long before Niko Kovač finally unleashed him. While that was nice for fans of this beloved player, for much of the game he showed just why he is not playing all too often these days. His passing was only good when Augsburg allowed him to have lots of time and space and even in defense -his forte after all- he was not much of a factor and couldn’t help his team when Augsburg had the upper hand.
Matthäus, Schweinsteiger, many great players were playing deeper and deeper as their careers progressed. There are a multitude of reasons but among them are decreases of running and reaction speed.
The game just seemed to be too fast for the crowd favourite. The Basque was going for unsuccessful ground tackles too quickly when he used to win these very same duels intercepting the ball without having to resort to the last chance action of going down.
The coaching team has to decide if Javi Martínez might not help the team better in central defense for the remaining season. As for the game against Augsburg in particular, the question arises that when Süle was injured and replaced with David Alaba whether Martínez wouldn’t have helped the team more had the coach brought in a midfield player instead of Alaba who would then have pushed Martínez back to central defense.
Bayern can hardly lament individual peak-performances against Augsburg. How in the sequence of play that concluded with the equalizer Gnabry controlled the ball, looked up to identify Lewandowski and made a perfect cross was excellent. And how Lewandowski then finished this cross might be even better. You once again shudder just by imagining where Bayern would be without Lewandowski this season.
Serge Gnabry showed an even better individual performance with his lead goal. Watching the game at home in the Netherlands, Arjen Robben must be proud of his copy-cat. He cut inside smoothly and finished with his (weaker!) left foot. A great achievement. A great individual achievement, mind you.
Because when the game had ended, the result was a 2:2 draw and while you can shine a light on Bayern’s conversion of chances, most people would probably agree that the final scoreline was a rather fitting one for this team performance.
Other then the great individual performance before the goals, a couple of decent goalscoring opportunities and a strong goalkeeping performance from Manuel Neuer, the team performance was severely lacking. Dozens and dozens of mistakes in build-up, in the offensive third, in defense and in positional play.
It seems like Bayern tries to pull itself from one great individual performance to another. That can work. It almost had against Augsburg. But if it doesn’t work, you have to question how well the team plays together.
Football of teams who seek refuge in their individual brilliance is often decried as hero ball. Sometimes this type of football leads to success, but in general the term has a negative connotation. It’s negative because usually at some point focussing just on individuality is not sustainable and basically never leads you to lasting success.