Three days after both teams had managed to win their Champions League fixtures, Bayern and Gladbach met for the Bundesliga’s Saturday night clash.
3 things we noticed
1. 45 good minutes are enough
The first 45 minutes of this match showed that Bayern haven’t forgotten how to play a good passing and combinational game under Ancelotti. Gladbach’s bad defensive structure surely helped. Douglas Costa’s smart movements not only improved the central presence but also created more space for David Alaba. On the right flank, Rafinha was a lot more alert and agile than Philipp Lahm has been lately. To elaborate, his interpretation of the right-back role was a lot more aggressive and offensive-minded. Thus he had more vertical runs than Lahm in recent matches.
All in all, Bayern were positioned very high up the pitch in the first half. A good indicator for that is Xabi Alonso’s average position, as the Spanish midfielder was mainly found in the opposing half. This improved the Bavarian counter-pressing greatly. Together with Thiago and Vidal, he successfully generated lots of pressure on the Gladbach players. The guests struggled to get a proper attack going, with their 4-4-2 system hurting the build-up. Xabi Alonso alone registered eight interceptions.
All things considered, it probably was the best half under Carlo Ancelotti so far.
2. Bayern need Vidal
The current FC Bayern relies heavily on Arturo Vidal. Not only because he scored the early goal but even more so because he gives the Bayern game a structure. The Ancelotti 4-3-3 is a good fit for Vidal’s playing style. He can act all over the entire central midfield and participate in the build-up. His good ball-keeping abilities created tons of space on the left flank against Gladbach. Furthermore, Vidal is improving in terms of switching sides, as four of his seven attempts were successful. Add to that two key passes and his performance was a positive one.
Arturo Vidal also forms a scoring threat that Xabi Alonso or Thiago simply aren’t. Lately, Joshua Kimmich took over that goalscoring role, but Vidal too can be that box-to-box player who causes trouble for the defense with delayed box entries.
3. Robben’s joy is Lewandowski’s sorrow
What has become more and more obvious over the last two years is still the case: Robben and Lewandowski aren’t a perfect fit. Whenever Arjen Robben plays, which isn’t that often due to injuries, it leads to Robert Lewandowski taking fewer shots. Against Gladbach, he only shot the ball twice in 90 minutes, one of those being a free kick. Robben on the other hand took five shots in 80 minutes.
Lewandowski’s troubles are apparent. Robben cuts inside, causing the defense to collapse towards the center. Spaces simply become too tight for Lewandowski to receive a pass. At the same time, Robben likes to shoot himself, occasionally missing an unmarked teammate. Last season, when Coman and Costa were the Bayern wingers, the gameplan was a lot more focused on Lewandowski as main target.
The success this team has had with Robben obviously can’t be denied. Nevertheless, Carlo Ancelotti should come up with a solution to involve one of the world’s best strikers in his system. A multitude of options will pay off eventually. Lewandowski, like Robben, is a player who needs to be a part of the game. Just waiting for that one moment isn’t what they’re about. This issue causes disharmony between the two, as it once again became obvious in the opening minutes of this match.
|FC Bayern – Borussia Mönchengladbach 2:0 (2:0)|
|FC Bayern München||Neuer – Rafinha (83. Kimmich), Martínez, Hummels, Alaba – Vidal, Alonso, Thiago – Robben (80. Sanches), Lewandowski, Costa (73. Müller)|
|Subs||Ulreich – Boateng, Bernat, Coman|
|Bor. M’gladbach||Sommer – Korb, Elvedi, Vestergaard, Wendt (65. Schulz) – Hofmann (46. Jantschke), Strobl, Kramer, Johnson – Stindl – Hahn (78. Herrmann)|
|Subs||Sippel – Dahoud, Sow, Rütten|
|Goals||1:0 Vidal (16.), 2:0 Costa (31.)|
|Cards||Gelb: – / Kramer|
|Referee||Dr. Jochen Drees|
|Attendance||75.000 (sold out)|