Bliss in Berlin
Thus Julian Nagelsmann lined up with a team full of regulars in their natural positions for the first time in 2022. Manuel Neuer had a three man back line of Benjamin Pavard, Niklas Süle and Lukas Hernández in front of him. The midfield consisted of Joshua Kimmich and Corentin Tolisso behind Kingsley Coman, Leroy Sané, Thomas Müller and Serge Gnabry. Robert Lewandowski of course played as Bayern’s lone striker.
The lineups revealed the intent for Nagelsmann in this match. Bayern set out to attack from the whistle and they did just that. Two minutes into the match Tolisso had appeared to score the opener on a nice ball from Müller but VAR found that Tolisso was just a hair offsides.
Never-mind though because Tolisso would not be stopped. In the 25th minute a long ball was played well over Lewandowski in the box. The striker did an amazing job to recover the ball and take out to the left corner flag where he passed back for Coman. Coman took a touch and hit in a cross to his countryman who headed it home 0-1.
Then just before the half Kimmich would win a free kick, that some questioned as it looked like Josh had been the one who was late. Never-the-less, he would take that free kick and swing it into Müller who got the slightest of touches to it and redirected it into the back of the net 0-2.
The second half would see a bit more from Hertha but not much. In the 75th minute, the Hertha keeper passed the ball far too slowly to his own defender across the face of goal and Sané sensing the mistake pounced and buried it in the empty net 0-3.
Just four minutes later, Kimmich would set Gnabry free behind the Berlin defense and the winger would dribble into the box with Lewandowski open at the far post but was able to put it in himself for the 0-4. A minute later, following a few substitutions, Omar Richards would play a poor back pass to Neuer who did all he could to put off the Berlin players but Jurgen Ekkelenkamp was able to get the ball up and over Neuer 1-4.
Sané looked to have added a fifth late on but it was ultimately called off by VAR as it was deemed a handball. The match would end shortly after with Bayern earning the easy victory and reestablishing their six point lead in the league.
For the second match in a row, Corentin Tolisso got on the scoreboard for Bayern. Given how much he has struggled over the last few years, it has been refreshing to see the Frenchman be able to utilize his skills and show what he has to bring to the table.
Those struggles apart from the nagging injuries, have been in large part due to the positioning that has been expected of him. Far too often he has been paired with Goretzka or Jamal Musiala, players who are also far more attacking minded, which has resulted in far too many mistakes in build up and defense.
However, when he is paired with Kimmich or Roca, he is not put in a position where he has to be focused on those aspects to the same degree. It allows him to get into the box and create havoc up front. Much like Goretzka and Arturo Vidal before him, he has a knack for finding open spaces in the box and timing his runs to those spaces with perfection.
While I’m not entirely convinced that Bayern should be looking to extend Tolisso, that has more to do with the aforementioned stylistic problems than his ability. If Nagelsmann and those in charge feel that Roca really is the back up for Kimmich, this becomes far more realistic. Tolisso can fill in as both the attacking six or as a ten which gives him value. However, with Goretzka, Musiala and Marcel Sabitzer around, it’s still worth asking if the two sides should part company. Either way, it has been nice seeing Tolisso shine for the last few weeks and hope to see it continue for the rest of the season.
One of the good things to come from missing players is the opportunity to experiment with the formations. Nagelsmann is known for being a bit of a tinkerer, and thus far at Bayern he has largely kept the traditional Munich formation. However today he roleld out a three man back line and threw an extra man in attack.
While I would not want to see this in every match, it’s clear that he picked a great time to utilize such a tactic. Berlin never really posed a serious threat to the Bayern defense, apart from the mistake that resulted in the goal. With Davies currently absent, playing a four man back line is a bit of a squad nightmare.
He will have a couple of options going forward as Hernández is back and can fill in on the left but against a team set up like Berlin, that seems like overkill. Having an extra creative player up front made far more sense than adding in another defensive minded player and it paid off today.
Today was also one of those unusal days where Lewandowski didn’t do all of the scoring. Off the top of my head, it feels as though Bayern end up with quite a few braces these days and today was a nice change from that.
It’s important that Bayern can and does get contributions from more than just Lewandowski. Of course I love to see our striker add to his incredible scoring stats but days like today show everyone that you can’t just focus on one player.
This team is capable of scoring in many ways through many players. The assists can come from more players than Thomas Müller. Kimmich had two today for instance. The teamwork and cohesion amongst this group continues to improve.
It does feel as though they work for each other and are genuinely happy for each others successes. Yes Lewandowski didn’t score today, and while I’m sure he’s disappointed, he also is aware that it’s important for those that did score to get on the board.
The success of the team and individuals is directly impacted by the success of those other individuals. Having Gnabry, Sané and Müller score goals will increase their confidence. It forces future opposition to pay more attention to them. It sets up future successes for all.