Musiala Shines as Bayern Wins

Marc Separator March 16, 2024

The lineup was fairly standard from Tuchel for recent matches. Manuel Neuer started in goal with Joshua Kimmich, Eric Dier, Matthijs de Ligt and Raphael Guerriero in defense. Aleksander Pavlović and Leon Goretzka started in midfield as Leroy Sané, Thomas Müller and Jamal Musiala played behind Harry Kane in attack.

Bayern would go down early as Darmstadt would open the scoring in the 28th minute but Bayern would get back into it quickly through Musiala eight minutes later and it was almost all Bayern after as they would eventually go on to win 2-5.

Things We Noticed

In Form

Bayern have been pouring in the goals the last few weeks and a lot of that has to do with the form of Musiala in particular. Bayern’s Bambi has been nothing short of spectacular over recent weeks and is once again reminding anyone who might have forgotten just how special he is.

Today he was nearly a one man show providing two goals and one assist. The second goal was particularly noteworthy a it saw him dribble through seemingly the entire Darmstadt defense before causally putting it between the keepers legs.

When Musiala is playing like he is at the moment, you can’t help but feel like the sky is the limit for him and that he is the future of Bayern. His ability on the ball is so singular that when his decision making fully catches up he could easily be a top 5 player in the world.

Old and Young

However, Musiala isn’t the only one who is finding their form right now. Pavlović, Müller, Kimmich, Goretzka and Kane have all been playing well over recent weeks.

It’s been refreshing to see a mix of the younger players and elder statesmen stepping up. This team has been in turmoil for so much this season, it’s been rare to see more than one or two individuals playing well at the same time even against weaker opposition.

Bayern seem to be playing with a bit of swagger again and it feels like it has taken all of those players to do so. This team does not have just one player who can pick it up. It needs four or five individuals to step up and make plays, which is exactly what has happened over the last few weeks.

The Goretzka Move

The change in role for Goretzka is a few matches old now and there is no question that it has been massively effective. Tuchel has forced Goretzka into better positional awareness and play by defining his role as the extremely deep lying six defensively and limiting his forward runs by making him part of what is essentially a back three when in transition and attack.

In this match for instance, his average position was essentially the same as Diers. This has stabilized things in the midfield and defense simply by keeping him in a better position and allowing Pavlović to operate as the more adventurous midfielder since he has less tendency to get lost.

However, I still have concerns. First of all we have only really seen this be effective against Lazio, Mainz and Darmstadt. Lazio was very poor in the return leg and the other two are literally the bottom of the Bundesliga table.

Second, Goretzka still has these odd moments where he completely blows up the structure by deciding it’s time to get forward. Late in the match today for instance, he randomly decided to position himself as the highest player in the center of the box offensively. It’s no coincidence that when Bayern lost the ball, Darmstadt almost immediately broke away in one of the few dangerous counters they had in the entire half.

So while I think playing Goretzka in this position is a better alternative to how he was playing before, I still have concerns and am curious to see how it works against more talented and attacking sides.

Transition Defense

Despite the scoreline, there were still some noticeable issues today. Yet again this match showed just how poor Bayern are currently when they lose the ball. The first goal by Darmstadt and nearly every chance they created came from a giveaway and a quick counter.

Bayern’s defense is almost always out of position and/or make questionable decisions in these situations that far too often gift the opposition a goal. This is obviously not new, but it is something that has largely gotten worse this season.

Both Kimmich and Goretzka’s moves further back have helped to stabilize things a bit. Goretzka adds another body and a little better on ball ability while Kimmich and Pavlović offer more passing ability and outlets at right back and other six position. This has reduced the number of careless giveaways in the buildup but has done very little to actually fix their transition defense.

Davies coming back in would probably help more because of his ability to make up for some of these mistakes through sheer speed. However, until these issues are fixed, it’s hard to imagine Bayern beating better sides who are more capable of punishing them anytime they lose the ball.

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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