Bayern wins 1-2 away to second tier Bochum with a third rate performance in the DFB Pokal
“This could become a very tough match”, Justin said in his preview. He should be right.
Kovač made three changes over the game against Union. Coutinho, Müller, and for the first time Lewandowski moved to the bench, Gnabry, Goretzka, and Tolisso got a place in the starting lineup. For Bochum native Goretzka, the match was the first time that he had met his youth club in a competitive match in a Bayern shirt. The back four remained unchanged. Pavard and Boateng played in the center, Kimmich at right-back, and Pavard at left-back. Thiago started as the single holding midfielder with Tolisso and Goretzka as the two number eights ahead of him. Coman on the left, Perišić in the middle, and Gnabry on the right formed the attacking line. Gnabry was familiar with the role of center-forward from his time at Hoffenheim and the national team.
Bochum coach Thomas Reis sent out his team in a 4-2-3-1.
It took all of 40 seconds for Bochum to get their first chance. Blum played a cut pack pass from Bayern’s goal line towards the penalty spot where Zoller was lurking. His shot went wide. Instead of this being a wake up call for Bayern, of proved a kick-start for Bochum. They started to press early and nip Bayern’s build-up play in the bud. The result were several good chances in the early minutes.
Bayern’s first effort on goal came in the 15th minute through Coman. In the following, Bayern managed to quiet the game down a bit and create a few chances of their own, but they failed to develop any real threat on goalkeeper Riemann’s goal.
Instead, it was for Riemann to initiate Bochum’s opening goal of the match in the 36th minute. He drove a long ball out to Blum on the left wing. Blum got past Kimmich and struck a low, powerful cross in the penalty box where Davies got to the ball ahead of Ganvoula, but only managed to deflect it into his own net.
Kovač ended his experiment with Gnabry in central attack and brought on Lewandowski for Perišić with Gnabry moving out to the right. Tolisso was positioned a bit deeper and Goretzka played more centrally so that Bayern’s shape now resembled a 4-2-3-1. After only 10 minutes into the second half, Goretzka was subbed off for Coutinho. Another 10 minutes later, Kovač used his third and final substitution and brought on Müller for Tolisso. Bayern’s first noteworthy chance of the second half came from a header by Lewandowski in the 69th minute. This chance seemed to momentarily reinvigorate Bayern’s attacking efforts, but without any measurable effect on the scoresheet. At their own end, they were lucky a few times not to concede a second goal from a Bochum counter attack.
In the 83rd minute, Serge Gnabry scored the leveller after a nice bit of combinational play by Lewandowski, Coman, and Kimmich. Immediately after that, Bochum’s center-back Armel Bella Kotchap illegally used his arms to prevent a second Bayern goal. His send-off gave Bayern another lift. They eventually managed to turn the game around within normal time by scoring in the 89th minute. Coutinho played the ball out right to Coman who set up Müller in the middle who finished with his heel for the 1-2 end result.
Kovač gave Gnabry a start in the unaccustomed center-forward position. Gnabry interpreted the role even more loosely than Lewandowski often does and kept moving out to the sides and back. The open spaces Gnabry offered were mainly used by Goretzka and sometimes Perišić and Tolisso to slip into the center of attack. All three players have a good shooting technique and in theory it is always difficult to defend against players who fluidly change their positions. However, this plan did not work out at all. Neither of Bayern’s forward players was given the service they needed to be a substantial threat on goal. Most of Bayern’s attacking efforts failed long before their flexibility in attack could pay off.
It was to be expected that Kovač would engineer some changes to his team after the disappointing first half. And so he did. But his piecemeal substitutions in 10 minute intervals meant three changes in Bayern’s formation in the first 20 minutes of the second half. The original 4-1-4-1 first turned into a 4-2-3-1 before it changed back to a 4-1-4-1. It seems to be more than just a coincidence that Bayern failed to create any danger within the first 20 minutes of the second half and started to create chances only after the team had settled after Kovač’s final alteration.
The earlier evening saw Cologne go out of the DFB Pokal against fourth tier Saarbrücken. Bayern missed out on the same fate only by a hair’s breadth. Whereas Bayern used to be eliminated from the cup every now and then yet a few decades ago – Vestenbergsgreuth, Magdeburg, Aachen – this seemed to have been almost impossible for the last 10 years or so. There was not even a faint glimpse to see of this invincibility on Tuesday evening.
Usually when you say “process over outcome” this means that you should not let a negative result overshadow what otherwise was an actually decent performance. In the case of Bayern, alas, it is the other way around.