Better Late than Never in Salzburg

Marc Separator November 4, 2020

Salzburg would start off the scoring 4th minute thanks to Mergim Berisha. Boateng would block a shot from Koita and the deflected ball fell directly to Berisha who blasted it past Manuel Neuer’s hand and into his near post. A few minutes later Serge Gnabry broke through and beat the keeper only to have the ball cleared off the line by a defender. Just a short time after, Hernandez would go down in the box and a penalty was given before VAR intervened and ruled it not a foul. Not long after that Gnabry would appear to score but be called back for offsides.

There started to be a feeling that things weren’t really going the Bavarian’s way until the 21st minute when Thomas Müller cleverly hoodwinked his opponent into fouling him in the penalty area. This time the penalty would stand and Lewandowski calmly put it in the back of the net. From there the match was very back and forth, slightly favoring the Austrian side till the 44th minute when Müller yet again made something happen. Lewandowski played Müller wide and the German international whipped in a cross for Tolisso but Rasmus Kristensen wanted his name on the scoresheet and scored an own goal. In truth there was very little Kristensen could have done to avoid it and Bayern would go into the half up 2-1.

The second half resulted in much of the same back and forth from the first half. Salzburg were almost unquestionably the better side and in the 66th minute they got their equalizer. Just seconds after having come on Masaya Okugawa leveled things in the 66th minute after a very quick pass through the Bayern defense from Andre Ramalho who had just stripped Lewandowski of the ball near the center line.

This goal did seem to act as a bit of smelling salt for a sleepy Bayern side. The action immediately following this goal was noticeably improved and sharper than most of the match to this point. However it would take 13 more minutes to bare any fruition, during which time Salzburg again pushed Bayern. However, in the 79th minute Joshua Kimmich would take a beautiful freekick that found the head of Boateng who smashed into the back of the net. Just 4 minutes later, Leroy Sané would get the ball on the right side of the box, cut back over to his left foot and curl it into the top corner.

From here the flood gates were open. Lewandowski would add his second in the 88th minute on a well placed cross from Javi Martínez (no you didn’t read that wrong) and in the 92nd minute Lucas Hernandez would get a rebound and blast if it off a defender and into the top of the net to finish things off 6-2. All things considered, this score line is more than flattering to a Bayern side that for all but 10 minutes, was largely outplayed. Salzburg deserve no small amount of credit. They were very good and deserved far more than what the outcome gave them. While Bayern were not at their best again and we could easily expound on the negatives, this time around we’re going to stick with the positive vibes!

A Very Müllerish Day

The quirky Bavarian has in some regards been one of Bayern’s more consistent players over recent weeks. While he may not have always found his way into the scoresheet, his presence was nonetheless felt through his energy and leadership. So it really came as no surprise when he was the one who instigated both of Bayern’s first two goals…in a way that seems very apropos for the player.

As I have already described the goals in full above, it is not hard to understand why one twitter user (Matthias Martin) would describe his performance thusly: “Müller baiting the defender for a dumb foul on the edge of the penalty box and then later crossing towards a defender for an own-goal is the most Müller performance imaginable.” Indeed it is Matthias. Indeed it is.

Neuer to the Rescue

Manuel Neuer once again was excellent today. Neuer has saved Bayern from countless one on one situations and other impossible odds in recent weeks and today was no different. While this is hardly news to Bayern fans, it is still too often taken for granted. He is the one constant and reliable part of the defense. Whether the defenders make a mistake or not, you always know that you have the best keeper in the world at the back and if anyone can work a miracle, it’s him. For instance, the fingertip save he made at the start of the half to prevent Enock Mwepu from scoring was subtly brilliant. So lets give the captain his due and praise all of the work he has done at the back this season. I have joked multiple times that someone would have to restrain Neuer in the locker room because of late goals to prevent his clean sheet and there is no doubt in my mind that the amount of goals allowed would be significantly higher if it weren’t for his efforts.

Player of the Match

Going forward, we are going to select a player that we feel stood out above the rest in each match. The first winner of this honor is Jerome Boateng. Boateng’s resurgence last season is well documented. His partnership with David Alaba was no small matter in the reformation of the defense under Hansi Flick. This season he has faced more competition for playing time from Niklas Süle but has still received his share of starts. With Süle set to miss a few weeks with COVID, he will be thrust back into the deep end and be expected to rekindle that partnership with Alaba.

If tonight is any indication, Jerome will hold up his end of that deal. The German center back was excellent all around. He was the rock of the defense tonight. When players found a way though, he was the player that was there ready to put in a last ditch tackle or challenge. He was the player who harassed them off the ball or did just enough to render the shot harmless. Then when Bayern were looking like they might lose or at least draw, he was the one who put them ahead with a fantastic headed goal on a corner kick. Often Kimmich and Müller feel like the energy source on the pitch. Alaba has been given a lot of credit as the voice of the defense in the last year. Tonight it was Boateng who provided both.

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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  1. Thank you for the quick recap Marc. We appreciate that a lot, as we know with current tight scheduling of Bayern, even preparing time to watch all these games properly is not so easy, not to mention giving proper analysis before and after these matches.

    Speaking of the match, the result is very satisfying, especially with Atletico’s usability to get 3pts from Moscow, and it was all but securing our top spot early in the group, giving Flick a little bit of room to integrate new players, and/or concentrate a bit more on domestic campaign during late November – December.

    The match itself was a bit hard to watch as Bayern fan. Jesse Marsch prepared his team very well, and they played an impressively physical and pressing game causing Bayern a lot of issues. On the other hand we made to many individual mistakes, the passing was way off standards, and the players sometimes took unnecessary risk or had a stupid idea in crucial area leading to too many dangerous turnovers and counters from the opponent. Thanks to Neuer, a bit of luck, and deep quality we still managed to come up winner.

    Individually, Pavard was quite underwhelming, at this rate Sarr is no worse and I think it’s time to use him more and light a fire under Pavard’s seat. Tolisso is also clearly not (yet?) suitable to playing in a double pivot. Pity because we urgently need alternative solution to Kimmich-Goretzka.

    Systematically speaking, it would be interesting to see how Flick deal with these problems:
    – We’re lacking solution to advance the ball through the middle when facing a heavy midfield pressing. Kimmich is a world class midfield orchestrator, but he’s no dribbler. Goretzka sometimes manages to escape the pressing by using his speed and sheer physicality, but the issue was blatant yesterday with the Kimmich – Tolisso pivot. The lack of a speed runner outlet on the left (Davies) did not help of course.

    – We have been losing too many second balls and air battles leading to a lot of counter attacks lately

    – The reduced pressing intensity, which is understandable due to fitness and scheduling, leading to a lot more gaps and the need of taking more risk and 1vs duels from the defence. So far minus Hoffenheim we always manage to escape thanks to the clinical finishing, Neuer, defence quality, and a bit of luck here and there. But one has to wonder whether these would be still enough come spring?

    On to Dortmund.

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    1. Thank you for your praise! This result certainly looks a lot better than it felt. Salzburg played a very good match and really deserved far more than a 6-2 defeat. I’m not surprised Bayern ended up winning, I sort of had a feeling through the match that the individual quality within the Bayern squad would end up deciding things. Salzburg has always shown they are capable of scoring goals but preventing them is not their strong suit and Bayern has enough quality throughout the squad to punish you if you don’t score your chances.

      Pavard has certainly had an up and down season so far. He has had some matches where he looked pretty good and then had matches that were very underwhelming. Part of me wonders if he has a nagging injury of some kind. However, as things stand, I would expect Sarr to continue to get time, especially in the Bundesliga, but for Pavard to be the first option for big matches.

      The interesting thing is Tolisso has always struck me more of the dribbler than Goretzka. Personally I think the issues are more directly related to the lack of speed and offense provided from the wingbacks. We essentially are playing 4 center backs right now and while Hernandez has been fantastic this year, he does not provide the speed and variability of Davies. I think that has also hurt Pavard a lot because I think there is a lot more pressure on him to provide offense this season than last. Ultimately this has pushed even more of that responsibility throughout the backline, including the CB’s and is another reason why Bayern have been vulnerable at the back.

      I think throughout the season we are going to see times where the pressing just is not as intense as we would like or at least got used to last season. Things aren’t spaced out the way they were last year and pressing with that intensity in every match is going to be very difficult. I think there will be a much higher effort in bigger matches and towards the end of the year. Whether they are capable of “flipping that switch” whenever they feel like it is a legitimate question but pressing the way they did last season is not sustainable with this condensed schedule.

      1. I totally agree Marc, you said it better than me, though I feel, even if Hernandez does not offer the fast run and dribbling on the left as Davies, he’s getting more and more comfortable in our passing game, and he brings a bit of an extra quality mentally to the team. But of course playing with both Pavard and Hernandez is not optimal, it reminds me of the French national team who’s is incredibly boring to watch.

        I’m not suggesting to drop Pavard, I also suspect there is something not rights leading to his inconsistent showings this season, so a rest here and there will help him, especially if Sarr plays well it would push him a bit more, that’s all I want, though I don’t think it happens at Dortmund this weekend.

  2. Think the event happened before the match also worths mentioning. I’m talking about news surrounding Alaba. I think both sides have done something not cool, and the whole thing could have been dealt with much better. We only hear rumours and what they say on the media, so we don’t understand all. But in principle I support the club’s decision to stand firm on this matter, though the timing, and some praises for Lucas Hernandes, are very suspecting.

    In my book Alaba is as good as gone, it will be very frustrating, and if he ends up staying I would be more than happy. But it’s time to plan as if he will be gone by summer. I hate Pini Zahavi and I blame him for bigger part of this drama, but frankly Alaba’s role as an innocent 10 years old child who does not know anything other than the ball has really annoyed me. As an adult, a senior player in the hierarchy, and a long serving history with the club I expect better from him.

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    1. From what we know about the Alaba situation, I think Bayern fans are being far too harsh towards Alaba. I don’t necessarily think the club is wrong for not wanting to pay him in the range of Lewandowski and Neuer, but I also don’t think he’s wrong to want it if he thinks he can get it elsewhere. I would guess that another team has talked to his agent and implied that they are willing to pay him in a certain range. We also need to keep in mind Alaba’s situation in the team. He plays primarily as a CB and LB. Those two positions with the players Bayern have brought in over recent years have a lot of competition and while he would likely remain a top choice in the near future, he still may end up playing fewer minutes than he would like. Additionally, we have been hearing reports of him wanting to play as a midfielder for years now. This will never happen at Bayern and he knows that. Whether another team would ultimately use him as a midfielder seems unlikely to me but someone may at least offer him a chance to earn that position.

      Finally, you also have to take into consideration his age. This is likely his last opportunity to get a big contract. His last opportunity to move to a big team and take on a new challenge. He has accomplished basically everything possible at Bayern. I think if Bayern were to pay him what he feels like he should be paid, he would be happy to stay, but I also think there is a part of him that wants to try something new. Ultimately, the breakdown in negotiations is unfortunate, but I don’t think it’s fair to villainize either party. Realistically, even his agent is just doing his job. I don’t particularly like Zahivi, but then I don’t particularly like any sports agents. However, his job is to get Alaba paid the most he’s capable of. There is a very real likelihood that Bayern is not offering him top dollar and with all of the other factors at play, that is likely going to push Alaba to the point of leaving.

      1. Don’t get me wrong Marc, I’m in no way blaming Alaba for his money quest. At the end of the day football now is just a business, and anyone in it needs to have a certain amount of money that he’s happy with. The fact that he hired no one other than Zahavi implied this intention. It’s not a problem at all. Wanting a new challenge is also very legitimate. The thing is he can’t have all, but he doesn’t seem to realise it, or at least demonstrate that yet. He could have done better to earn more respect from my. Bayern can offer him one of the best sporting project in the world at the moment, a playing style that he enjoys and fits like a glove, with prominent senior role that is only behind a few in the hierarchy. The coach loves him, the team and the fans appreciated him. On the other hand Bayern is never the club that pay the most handsome money, nor it can give him a new challenge (though to me, defending the treble, and evolving tactically to sustain this high level are already a substantial challenge). He either has to choose the safe and comfortable sporting option, or handsome financially but more uncertain sporting one. I think, current situation taking into account, Bayern is offering him a good compromise. Of course as you said there might be other promises or possibilities that are more attractive, and we have to live with that, but he knows dragging while earning him potentially more lucrative deal, is at the expense of his childhood club.

        I know he has been guided by his advisor Zahavi, but always saying as if he doesn’t now anything, being surprised by everything, frankly does not cut it to me. Advisor is advisor, but he himself must be the driver of his career intention, and if he leaves all that to someone who I don’t think would put his footballing career as number 1 priority, I can only say sorry for him.

        And from the club point of view, there have been a few bureaucratic and controversy moves, especially some unnecessary comments (e.g. Hoeness) but I don’t feel they can do anything better for now.

        The loser in all of this would be, on top of all, Flick. I have never seen a coach winning a treble in the most unimaginable way, ends up losing 2 of his most favourite players in 2 consecutive summers, yet never got one he truly calls for (granted, this is only based on transfer rumour). I hope he still loves our club enough to stay long term, despite all.

  3. Durham Bundesliga Fan Page November 5, 2020 - 22:30

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the negativity that some Bayern fans have against players that don’t do what the fans want in regards to that player’s career is a bit beyond me. Alaba owes these fans nothing (as apparently they are not fans of his, but of his current team). Their opinions about his contract negotiations tend to simply echo the desires of the team, which is understandable from an emotional standpoint, but not logical. I get it, the fans love Bayern, and Alaba isn’t doing what is best for the team so somehow this reflects poorly on Alaba.
    But objectively, that issue is not an slight on Alaba as a person or even a player, but as an object. It’s like when my computer doesn’t work right. I get upset and angry at my “bad computer”. But this is a person, with family, bills, dreams, yada, yada, yada. It’s his choice and if he takes until his contract expires to make a decision, well then he deals with the benefits and losses of that decision. As we don’t really know that much about him as a person, we can not say much more than that.
    The fact that people have opinions at all about the matter seems to me as Bayern-game playing. Why on earth would they announce that his contract had been pulled? Why is that a public matter? I’m not from Germany, so this may be a cultural issue, but public statements like the team is putting out really only seem to be to stoke public opinion. Then people have feelings about how he’s responding and so forth, but it’s really Bayern-Alaba issue. An issue that Bayern wants support from fans about, but I don’t buy that. It’s bush league. Keep it in-house. Give him the money or start working on Plan B, that’s what Brazzo’s for, right?

  4. […] Better Late Than Never In Salzburg | Marc […]

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