FC Bayern – Mainz 05 1:2 (0:1)

Justin Separator March 3, 2016

Before the game, Bayern was undefeated against Mainz in the last eight games, including the 3:0 away win in the first half of the season. Especially with the upcoming game in Dortmund in mind, it was important for the Pep Guardiola’s team to continue this run.

FC Bayern vs. Mainz 05, March 2, 2016Starting formations: Bayern – Mainz 05. Mainz defensively in a 5-2-3 system.

3 things we noticed

1. Structural problems and inaccuracies

Especially in the first half, the record champion had trouble repeatedly carrying their attacks from the first to the final third. Mainz blocked the build-up play with three players, which is why the two central defenders and Manuel Neuer were not enough to create a numerical superiority. Bernat and Rafinha positioned themselves too high or were hiding behind their opponents, which is why there were hardly any gaps for Alaba and Benatia. Arturo Vidal too positioned himself either too deep or too high. However, when Guardiola’s team was able to move the ball past the first pressing line of Mainz, they had plenty of space. With Ribéry, Coman and even Arjen Robben, they were always able to penetrate the penalty area where inaccuracies in their passing game occured. It usually was the last or the second-to-last pass that denied Bayern a good scoring chance. Franck Ribéry only brought 33 of 47 passes in the final third to a teammate, Arjen Robben 32 of 38, Bernat 27 of 35, Rafinha only 26 of 33. Kingsley Coman played just eight passes in the final third, six of which found a teammate, before he was subbed of.

Often it was the passing game that was simply too inaccurate, sometimes Munich reacted too slowly in their positional play against Mainz’ movements. One had the impression that the players were mentally not quick enough to position themselves well between the lines. Thiago was isolated and forced to commit turnovers. The link-up play between Bernat and Ribéry but also of Coman and Rafinha rarely worked because in many situations Bernat was too casual and Rafinha repeatedly offered his wing partner too little support. In the second half, the combination game was a little better because Mainz barely had any relief attacks, which Rafinha interpreted correctly as a call for more offensive actions.

2. Vidal and Ribéry improved

Signs of hope were visible nonetheless. Arturo Vidal seems to have found his role at Bayern and Franck Ribery can apparently even be important for the team as a starting player. After his recent good performances in Augsburg and Turin, Vidal also had a good game against Mainz. Although he was not always well positioned in the build-up play, he put up nice counter-pressing and some strong offensive actions. Three shots on goal, only Loris Karius refused him a goal. In addition, the Chilean played created five scoring chances, which matched Franck Ribery for the highest value. Three interceptions, two successful tackles, 126 ball contacts and the assist for the temporary equalizer underline his good performance. It’s only in the build-up game where he must continue to improve, as only 97 of 109 attempts found a teammate. One misplaced pass led to the Mainz winner, as first part of a long chain of errors that led to the goal.

(Bild: CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP / Getty Images)
(Bild: CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP / Getty Images)

For Franck Ribéry, we had thought that the role where he could shine especially in the closing stages of future games would be as a super-sub. However, against Mainz the Frenchman showed that he is also quite an alternative for the starting lineup. From the beginning, many attacks were run down his side. With five key passes, five successful dribbles and 102 ball contacts he was the most valuable offensive Bayern player. Although towards the end his battery was empty and inaccuracies creept into his game, he showed a performance that gave us hope for the rest of the season.

3. The fourth deficit at home

After the games against Augsburg, Wolfsburg and Darmstadt, Bayern went behind against Mainz 05 for the fourth time this season in a home game. Turning a game around is especially tricky when the opponent is parking the bus. Even though Bayern equalized, they could not reap the harvest of their high pressure and actually conceded a second goal in the final minutes. How Bayern deal with deficits is at least noteworthy. When the team of Pep Guardiola is down a goal, it often needs a long time to get back to their usual game.

In the first half, they hardly created a chance for 20 minutes, even though Mainz were not defending outstandingly with the lead giving them an edge. Maybe a little more risk is missing here. Throughout the game, Guardiola did not deviate from the back four, and thus developed only little pressure offensively. Since Bernat and Rafinha had no major impact anyway, he could have replaced one of them. Despite Ribery and Robben both showing good individual performances, they were not able to put constant pressure on the Mainz defense. Maybe a second striker is missing in the squad, one that can relieve Lewandowski more than Müller could. A switch to a clear 3-5-2 formation might have enabled more action in the penalty area. Bernat only had two crosses, despite several opportunities. One of them was successful – in the 90th minute. Rafinha had three crosses and was successful only once. Not enough to vary the offensive game and to create larger gaps in the central area.

Lewandowski had a bad day and did not take a single shot at target, with his two attempts missing the goal of Karius. Compared to the previous weeks, it was a below-average performance. His passing accuracy of 68.2% is far below his average and showed that even the Pole can have a bad day once in a while. If Müller cannot compensate this, as he’s been running a little out of form lately himself, then the Bayern game is lacking alternatives. Müller only managed to get off one shot after he came into the game.

FC BAYERN – 1. FSV MAINZ 05 1:2 (0:1)
FC Bayern Neuer – Rafinha, Benatia, Alaba, Bernat – Vidal – Coman (51. Müller), Robben, Thiago (60. Costa), Ribéry – Lewandowski
Bench Ulreich – Kimmich, Tasci, Rode, Götze
1. FSV Mainz 05 Karius – Donati (73. Brosinski), Balogun, Hack, Bungert (46. Latza), Bussmann – Baumgartlinger, Frei – Clemens, Malli (60. Cordoba), Jairo
Goals 0:1 Jairo (26.), 1:1 Robben (64.), 1:2 Cordoba (86.)
Cards Yellow: Rafinha / Balogun, Bussmann
Referee Stegemann (Niederkassel)
Attendance 75.000 (sold out)

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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