Bochum Bombard Bayern
Julian Nagelsmann would make two changes to the side he had sent out a week ago. Sven Ulreich replaced Manuel Neuer in goal and Dayot Upamecano would come in for Correntin Tolisso to form a back four. Benjamin Pavard, Niklas Süle and Lucas Hernández formed the backline with Joshua Kimmich as the lone six. The attack was made up of Serge Gnabry, Thomas Müller, Leroy Sané and Kingsley Coman just behind Robert Lewandowski up top.
Things started off relatively normal for the first ten minutes. Lewandowski got Bayern on the board in the ninth minute to give Bayern the 0-1 lead. However things would deteriorate quickly after. In the 14th minute Bochum would counter Bayern and score a very nice goal from the edge of the box that Ulreich had no real chance to save. Upamecano and Süle both probably could have done a little better but the goal was well taken and probably would rarely be scored.
That would be come the theme of the first half. In the 38th minute, Garrit Holtmann drove down the left wing and whipped in a cross that ended up hitting Upamecano’s arm resulting in a penalty. While the right call, there was not much Dayot could have done and was a little unfortunate overall. Bochum converted the penalty to make it 2-1.
Just two minutes later, Christian Gamboa would dribble through Coman and Kimmich and shoot from the corner of the box into the far corner of the goal to make it 3-1. Another 4 minutes after that Holtmann would hit another shot from outside the box into the far corner to make it 4-1 at the half.
The second half would start with one change from Nagelsmann as he brought on Tolisso for Upamecano. Bochum would score two offsides goals in the first five minutes of the second half. From there Bayern took a bit more control but not much.
Lewandowski had two 1v1’s with the keeper that resulted in zero goals. The first of which he certainly could have done better with as he took a far too heavy touch to sidestep the keeper leaving him with an impossible angle for his shot and allowing the defenders to get back into place. The second the keeper did well to get an arm on to prevent the goal.
However, Lewandowski would give Bayern a lifeline scoring a second goal in the 75th minute following a free kick from Kimmich. Bayern from this point on clearly looked like the better team but it was too little too late. Lewandowski nearly hit his hat trick in the 86th minute as he hit the top corner of the woodwork with a free kick. Bayern never really got super close to scoring after that chance and the match ended 4-2 in favor of Bochum.
Three Things We Noticed
Back Line Uncertainties
So far, 2022 has show the importance of Alphonso Davies to this squad. His absence has forced Nagelsmann to play around with different formations in the back, none of which have proved to be ideal. The lack of any natural fullbacks has challenged the squad to play completely differently with a back three for every game up till Saturday.
The option that Nagelsmann deployed against Bochum is really the only viable one he has available to him for a back four. As you will have noticed, I am not counting Pavard as a natural fullback and so this team in my mind was set up with four center backs. That is far from ideal and while I’m not putting the whole performance on playing Hernández and Pavard in those positions, it does throw the rhythm of the squad out of balance.
While the big news over the last week has been Süle’s impending departure to BVB, there has been rumors of Bayern looking for a direct replacement for the big center back. This to me should be a secondary search to finding a natural right back to fill that spot on a permanent basis freeing up Pavard to fill the role vacated by Süle.
It has to be said that Bayern just looked off today, even from the start and despite the early lead. Bochum was causing issues from the get go and Bayern simply were not responding. The goal really came from very little with a nice ball from Müller to Coman who found Lewandowski in the six yard box.
I don’t actually think it was a lack of effort, just more a lack of energy. They looked like they just weren’t in the game today, especially early on. Following the three goals at the end of the first half, the team looked like a punch drunk boxer that had no idea what hit them.
Any hope that things might change at the half were quickly dashed as Bochum came out swinging again scoring two offsides goals in the first five minutes following the break. Finally the team looked a little more with it following Lewandowski’s goal in the 75th minute but that’s 3/4 of the match gone with too little energy.
One of Those Days
While both of the first two points are issues that need to be solved and/or prevented going forward, the reality is that it really was just one of those days. Apart from the penalty, which I maintain was fairly unfortunate in itself, all three of the goals from open play were not ones you would expect Bochum to convert with any regularity.
Most days Bayern probably would have escaped this game with a draw or possibly even a narrow win. However, this wasn’t a normal day and Bochum played out of their minds for the last ten minutes of the first half.
According to fotmob, the expected goals stats at the end of the match were 2.86 to 2.67 in favor of Bochum. That feels about right and it’s important to point out that nearly one full point of that for Bochum comes from the penalty.
So while Bayern absolutely can and should do better, I’m not sure they would have won today regardless. These things happen in sports. Teams sometimes just play out of their minds. Everything the do seems to work. Everything you do seems to not.
I’ve seen a lot of comments on social media really ripping into a variety of Bayern players and Nagelsmann. While I’m certainly not going to say that questions shouldn’t be asked or criticisms are unwarranted, I do think there has to be a bit of perspective as well. Bayern were not awful today. They weren’t perhaps up to their usual standard but the biggest variable really was the fantastic shooting from Bochum.
Perhaps it’s good that Bayern don’t have time to focus on today for long as they will have their first midweek match of the year against Salzburg in the Champions League on Wednesday. We all will expect a response and much better performance against the Austrian side putting this blip behind them quickly.