Analysis: FC Bayern München – Borussia Mönchengladbach 1:1 (1:0)

Christopher Separator April 30, 2016

The home match against Mönchengladbach was always a threatening one, being sandwiched in between the two Champions League semifinal matches against Atletico. Prior to the match, it was announced that an eventual league-clinching win wouldn’t be celebrated – the second leg on Tuesday is considered too important.

Formations FC Bayern - GladbachThe starting formations – Bayern with a physical back-three.

3 things we noticed:

1. Successful comeback

Even if they didn’t get to celebrate the league title, the Bavarian fans surely got some excitement and happiness out of the comeback of Jerome Boateng. The defender convinced as part of an unusually physical back-three, together with Serdar Tasci and Medhi Benatia. In 67 minutes, Boateng managed to win 75% of his tackles and furthermore recorded two clearances and an interception. Far more important than his defensive contribution however was how much he improved the team’s build-up. It only took him a few minutes to play his first dangerous long ball, showing why he can be considered a real option for Tuesday’s match. With him on the pitch, Bayern are a lot less vulnerable against early pressing. That being said, he wasn’t always as accurate as in the fourth minute, when his long ball initiated the opening goal scored by Müller. Only five of his twelve attempts were successful, a number that surely wasn’t helped by the rather defensive-minded approach and the lack of a proper target player such as Robert Lewandowski.

This match certainly wasn’t a proper test run for this defense but, with the result of the first leg in mind, Pep Guardiola might consider making a few changes. A back-three against the expected 4-5-1 formation of Atletico is a possible solution. Jerome Boateng could turn out to be one of those three defenders. Against Gladbach, he showed glimpses of why the team has missed him so much.

2. Benatia rules

The main reason for Boateng’s lack of defensive action was Medhi Benatia. He brought Gladbach close to desperation with his excellent positioning, especially in the first half. He recorded eight interceptions – a brilliant number for a center-back. The second-highest value, belonging to Serdar Tasci, lies at four interceptions. Benatia’s other stats were positive as well: 55% of his tackles won, two clearances and a passing accuracy of 83% are convincing numbers.

Medhi Benatia Bayern - GladbachMedhi Benatia tackling Thorgan Hazard. (Matthias Hangst / Bongarts / Getty Images)

Last week, Benatia already showed what a talented defender he is when he manages to stay healthy. His aerial power and his anticipation skills are clear boosts to the current Bayern team. His performance might be another reason to consider a back-three on Tuesday.

3. Mario Götze’s setback

Over the last few weeks, Mario Götze had been able to show a slight but steady improvement. Against Gladbach, it was back to lethargy for him. 39 ball actions and a tackling rate of 33% are just not enough in a match like this. While Götze had some bright moments in counter-attacking situations, he played only two key passes and was way too inaccurate in his game. A certain phase in the first half, when Bayern got into several decent transition moments, was practically made for him, yet Götze failed to turn that into anything of value. Gladbach left him lots of space to act in, usually a dangerous idea considering his positional awareness, this time none of his ideas worked out.

Unlike Boateng and Benatia, Mario Götze couldn’t take advantage of this opportunity. He provided Guardiola with no reason whatsoever to consider him as a serious option on Tuesday. Despite Thiago being in a massive form crisis, he’s still ahead of Götze in the race for the attacking midfield spot.

FC Bayern Neuer – Benatia, Boateng (68. Alaba), Tasci (77. Costa) – Kimmich – Rafinha, Rode, Götze (62. Thiago), Bernat – Müller
Subs Ulreich, Lahm, Vidal, Lewandowski
Borussia M’gladbach Sommer – Elvedi, Christensen, Nordtveit – Dahoud, Xhaka – Traoré (61. Herrmann), Wendt – Hazard (57. Stindl) – Hahn, Raffael (90. Hofmann)
Goals 1:0 Müller (6.), 1:1 Hahn (72.)
Cards Tasci, Rode / Elvedil
Referee Daniel Siebert (Berlin)
Attendance 75.000 (sold out)

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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