Bayern Grind Out Win in Frankfurt
Julian Nagelsmann would instead have Jamal Musiala at his disposal and used him as he made four total changes. The starting eleven consisted of Sven Ulreich, Benjamin Pavard, Niklas Süle, Dayot Upamecano, Lucas Hernández, Joshua Kimmich, Marcel Sabitzer, Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala, Kingsley Coman and Robert Lewandowski who took over as the temporary captain.
The match started with a pretty high pace as Bayern attacked and Frankfurt looked to counter quickly when regaining possession. Frankfurt would get the first real chance as Jesper Lindstrøm would slip in a great pass to Filip Kostić but the Serb missed badly. Bayern would create their own chance just minutes later as Kimmich crossed into Musiala who had a free header but hit it just over the crossbar.
As has been the case for every recent Bayern trip to Frankfurt, SGE made it a very physical and rough match. This deteriorated enough by around the 30th minute that Hernández ended up getting in a bit of shoving match, as his hot head got the best of him earning him a yellow card. Eintracht for their part applied a lot of pressure high up the pitch going so far as to consistently trouble Ulreich in his own six yard box.
Meanwhile, Bayern had several excellent chances to score. In the 24th minute, Coman nearly scored the first goal out of nothing cutting in just on the edge of the box and striking a shot towards the low near corner that Kevin Trapp just got a hand to. In the 33rd minute Lewandowski had an open low header go just wide of the goal as well.
In the 38th minute, Kimmich found the ball at his feet from distance and struck towards the low left corner. Trapp saved it but couldn’t control the ball and Coman nearly added the first goal but was thwarted by Trapp’s face. The first half deservedly ended even 0-0.
Nagelsmann would make no changes at the half but Bayern would come out and look far more dangerous than they did for most of the first 45 minutes. There would be several notable chances in the first ten minutes of the half, perhaps the most memorable of which was Pavard passing into the face of goal and a Frankfurt defender clearing the ball over the bar from a seemingly impossible angle on the line to prevent Gnabry scoring an easy tap in.
In the 60th minute, Lewandowski earned a 1v1 with Trapp but the Eintracht keeper was able to make an excellent save to prevent the striker from opening the scoring. Three minutes later, Kimmich would pick up a yellow for a foul on Kostić just outside the box as the attacker was breaking on goal. Frankfurt put in a good set piece from the the resulting free kick but missed the open header over the bar.
In the 66th minute, Nagelsmann made his first change bringing in Leroy Sané for Sabitzer while moving Musiala a little further back to pair with Kimmich. Just four minutes after coming on Sané would open the scoring. Musiala did well to dribble through several SGE players finding Kimmich who put in a fantastic pass to free up Sané 1v1 with Trapp and he slid the ball past the keeper 0-1.
Frankfurt would put pressure on Bayern as they tried to add to their lead but the following twelve minutes saw little in the way of real chances. In the 82nd minute, Marc Roca replaced the exhausted Musiala in the midfield.
As Eintracht applied increasing pressure through the last ten minutes, each of the Bayern back line made excellent individual plays to prevent Frankfurt from equalizing. Nagelsmann made his final substitution in the 89th minute bringing on Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting for Coman who had another good day.
Choupo maybe had the best chance to increase Bayern’s lead as he found himself and Lewandowski in the box, however the substitute chose to go for goal himself instead of playing the very open Lewandowski and it was easily saved by Trapp. Frankfurt put in several last ditch efforts but to no avail and Bayern would leave with a 0-1 victory.
While a grind out one goal win hardly seems like reason to celebrate for Bayern supporters, it was never-the-less another solid performance by the side following the dismal matches prior to the second half against Fürth.
Defensively, there were of course times where Frankfurt threatened and had chances that could have been converted. However, all four of the defenders played well in general today for maybe the first time in 2022. Süle had an excellent match overall positioning himself well and preventing several breaks. Upamecano won several important duels and didn’t make any notable errors for the first time in weeks.
Hernández and Pavard both did well at balancing their attacking and defensive responsibilities providing some width going forward while not sacrificing defensive stability. Kimmich did a good job of helping when the two full backs moved forward and saved several notable opportunities for Eintracht.
While the attack struggled to find a final ball, the overall effort was good and on another day may have resulted in a goal prior to the game winner. There is still work to be done here but overall they did a decent job of making their way into the box and or dangerous runs down the wing, primarily by a very in form Coman.
Obviously we will all expect more from Bayern than 1-0 victories against mid-table sides, however given the recent sketchy history against Frankfurt including a 1-2 loss at the Allianz in the Hinrunde, a hard fought 1-0 victory feels very much like a win to me.
One issue that needs to be corrected is the form of Serge Gnabry. The winger has been in a bit of a funk over recent weeks and again struggled to make an impact Saturday. A large part of this is due to Bayern focusing yet again on the left wing as Coman has been in excellent form and Pavard not being the strongest offensive option at right back.
The second half saw some improvement as he forced the issue a bit more and started getting involved slightly earlier and more central in the build up. Once getting the ball, he made better runs and passes in and around the box, but still never really made that final pass or shot that troubled the opposition.
While the Pavard situation is here to stay, Nagelsmann and Gnabry need to find solutions to get him into the match better than they have been. The right side has been an issue for most of this season. While the left will almost always be the focus this year, especially when Alphonso Davies returns, a more balanced attack would certainly benefit all.
Missing the likes of Thomas Müller is always going to be a huge blow. Bayern are lucky to have a number of options at this position that can bring exceptional quality of their own. Today’s solution was Musiala which is the solution that I personally prefer.
Despite that, it was not the best performance by the youngster prior to his shift back by the introduction of Sané. For much of the match up to that point, he was only rarely involved. He had a few moments here or there where he made an impact but those were few and far between.
Sané did an excellent job of course coming in to score the winning goal and played well overall, however Bayern simply do not have a player as of right now who can do all the things that Müller does. Maybe they never will. Müller is one of the most unique players the sport has ever seen.
Still, today is evidence that an alternative solution needs to be found for when Müller is unavailable. None of the current options bring the ingenious passing, movement or connection to the rest of the players, especially Lewandowski, that Müller does.
This past weeks events are of such a nature that it’s often hard to even remember that there is football to be played. Vladamir Putin’s despicable decision to launch a full and unprovoked attack on the Ukraine has upended the geopolitical landscape and thrown the world into chaos.
The majority of the football world including Eintracht and Bayern displayed their opposition to Putin’s actions today and we too condemn Russia’s invasion of and war on the Ukraine. All of our thoughts are with those Ukrainians who are being killed for one man’s ego and greed and we sincerely hope that maybe some peaceful conclusion can still be reached, as extremely unlikely as that may be. Stay safe and “Stop it Putin!”