Overall, it was a defeat that was foreseeable. The currently hottest team in the league beat an injury-hit Bayern convincingly. It was Bayern’s first loss in the first half of a season under Guardiola, giving him lots of food for thought.
3 things we noticed:
1. Loss of control in the second half
Gladbach played like a team that hasn’t lost since September – confidence, clear tasks and commitment. Schubert had several ideas ready for this match. High offensive pressing, overloading of the wings by Wendt and Korb as well as a back-three that switched to a 4- or 5-man defensive line when Bayern attacked. The Gladbach coach deserves the praise he has received in the last weeks.
In the first half, Bayern had solutions for Schubert’s plan. Avoiding interceptions and getting the best dribbler (Coman) into 1-on-1 duels on the wings were good and smart concepts that were rewarded with good chances. The game however changed in the second half. In between minute 50 and 75, they probably played their worst minutes under Guardiola. Not just because of the goals but the way they were playing. They completely lost control, especially in central midfield. Alonso and Martinez both had a pass accuracy below 80% – extremely unusual numbers for a Guardiola team.
The Bayern defense was under heavy pressure throughout the game – not only when conceding the goals that were created in rather simple ways. Four times they didn’t manage to clear the ball – three goals against were the consequence. Although Boateng and Benatia reacted too slowly for the second and the third goal, the blame is to be put on others as well. Structural problems had already appeared earlier. The combination of a right-footed left-back and a very slow captain on the right is far from perfect. The deciding factor in Guardiola’s game plan is control. Figuring out why they lost that against Gladbach will be Guardiolas task for the next days.
2. Offense is bleeding
It is obvious: losing Costa, Robben, Thiago and Götze cannot be coped with completely. The remaining players might have managed to create chances in the first half but were totally dependent on Kingsley Coman (6 shots on target). But because he had done so much in the first half, he lost stamina later on and with that, his actions became less stringent and his radius shrunk. The celebrated attacking power was not apparent, the game was static and figured out easily.
Bayern had to invest too much to create chances. Without a second dribbling winger, they relied too heavily on Coman or corners and crosses. Gladbach did open up the wings as sacrifice for an overloaded center with Xhaka falling back into the back-three. 15 crosses are a high number for the Bayern squad. Only once did they manage to create a big chance with a passing sequence – Lewandowski didn’t score against Sommer.
Vidal took over a lot of the offensive responsibility and finished the match with 9 key passes. Müller and Lewandowski combined only had six – their season average is 11. Instead of their average 13 dribblings, Bayern only had 8. As already mentioned: the offense is bleeding. Influenced by that fact, Guardiola was forced to get back to Franck Ribery who had just recovered from serious injuries. His goal however shows that there still is some power left in his tank.
Costa and Götze will miss the rest of the first half, Thiago and Robben might come back earlier. Bayern will survive until Christmas – but it was brutally clear how dependent they are on their offensive playmakers.
3. Xhaka’s letter of application
Xhaka has been linked with Bayern more than once recently. If you have seen him play on Saturday, you should understand why Bayern are considering adding him to their squad. He wasn’t spectacular, even had several misplaced passes, but when Gladbach took over the game he was the center of their game. His coolness and clarity are remarkable. His strategic skills and his great positioning are already known. He won several tackles and was present almost everywhere on the field. Together with Dahoud, he clearly dominated Bayern’s central midfield.
Xhaka showed that he has what it takes in an important match. Bayern, who are looking for an Alonso replacement for the future, will have taken notice.
|BORUSSIA MÖNCHENGLADBACH – FC BAYERN 3-1 (0-0)|
|Borussia M’gladbach||Sommer – Korb, Christensen, Elvedi, Nordtveit, Wendt – Dahoud (85. Schulz), Xhaka, Johnson, Stindl (90. Hazard) – Raffael (88. Drmic)|
|Subs||Sippel – Brouwers, Hrgota, Jantschke|
|FC Bayern||Neuer – Lahm, Benatia, Boateng, Rafinha – Martínez, Xabi Alonso (66. Rode), Vidal – Müller, Lewandowski (75. Ribéry), Coman|
|Subs||Ulreich – Kirchhoff, Badstuber, Kimmich|
|Goals||1-0 Wendt (54.), 2-0 Stindl (66.), 3-0 Johnson (68.), 3-1 Ribéry (81.)|
|Cards||Yellow: Stindl / Benatia, Rafinha|
|Referee||Felix Zwayer (Berlin)|
|Attendance||54.010 (sold out)|