A sizzling coffee maker, a little light illuminating a lonely desk in a back room. On it a flickering screen – that’s how you can imagine the Miasanrot editorial staff on Thursday at 1 a.m. German time.
FC Bayern travels the world again and we are there with all the notepads we could find.
In case you’ve missed it
Because the interest of many Bayern fans may have been aroused by the line-ups alone. Kovač once again bet on many youth players. Shabani, Zylla and Will started a complete central midfield from the Bayern campus. Johansson and Stanisic were also present. Gnabry also made his debut from the beginning.
Juventus, on the other hand, had more experienced players in the starting line-up, including former Munich youth player Emre Can. Overall, however, the Italians were also very young. Except for Chiellini (33), Marchisio (32), Pjanić (28) and Alex Sandro (27) no player was over 25 in the first eleven.
In accordance with the unusual formations, the game started wildly. But first the Bavarians could show a little more security and peace, after Juve had the first big chance through Favilli (2.). Gnabry (5th) and Zylla (7th) also missed very good opportunities on the other side.
All in all, the first half developed in such a way that Bayern frequently and plenty had the ball, let it run well and regularly played out chances. Juve always became dangerous when the Munich team made simple mistakes. This was also the case with the Italians’ leading goal, when Stanisic played an inaccurate pass to Ulreich and the goalkeeper made the wrong decision. The beneficiary was Favilli, who scored the 1-0 (33rd).
Kovač changed for the first time before the break. For Javi Martínez came David Alaba (37.). A little later it was already 2-0, when the complete Bayern team was overplayed by a long ball. Again Favilli was the goal scorer (40th).
Even after halftime, not much changed. Although both coaches changed a lot, the Bavarians had much more possession of the ball, while Juve was waiting for mistakes.
However, the Bayern could no longer play out many opportunities and the few were not used. That is definitely a point of criticism. Nevertheless, the 2-0 defeat to Juventus Turin points to a worse performance than the reality showed.
In the end, the Bavarians have beaten themselves, but there are still positive aspects.
Three things we noticed
1. The roles of Martínez and Alaba
Yes, Hummels, Süle and Boateng are not available for Niko Kovač in the USA. Almost logically, Javi Martínez moved into central defense. Although this decision seems so clear, it is still interesting to see whether this is a first indication for the future.
Martínez had big problems last season to play a decisive role in the game on the six. In central defense, he wouldn’t be so decisive in possession of the ball. Perhaps we experience the beginnings of a plan that Kovač has with Martínez.
Alaba’s entry into central defence can also be attributed to the current squad. Kovač’ statements so far nevertheless indicate that Alaba will become one of the most decisive players for the defense. His role on the field could determine the basic formation in which Bayern play.
It is not yet possible to predict one hundred percent how Kovač plans with the two players. However, he seems to be aware that both can help him a lot in stabilizing the defensive line.
2. Good midfield trio in the first half, weak transition moments after turnovers
With Shabani, Will and Zylla at the centre, it was not necessarily to be expected that Bayern would be as dominant as they were over long phases of the game. Juventus showed Niko Kovač that even in the Champions League it will not be so easy to take phases without possession of the ball.
With the ball on their feet, however, the Munich-based team sometimes played very well. This was not least due to the named trio. Will played an unagitated and unspectacular ball on the six, but mostly provided for safety. Shabani and Zylla supported him in the half spaces. Shabani in particular showed multiple needle player qualities and skillfully resolved tight situations.
However, especially in the moments after turnovers, the entire team showed great weaknesses. Juve managed to overplay the German champions’ back team several times with only a few contacts when they got the ball. This was also the case at 2-0, when a long ball was enough for a big chance.
Maybe this was also due to the lack of experience, but Kovač will have to find team tactical solutions to secure the ball possession game.
Nevertheless, one can only pay a compliment to the young players in particular. The fact that Juventus, with a much more experienced midfield, could only hope for ball wins if the Bavarians made simple mistakes speaks for itself. This picture did not change much in the second half either.
Renato Sanches, who had a slightly less decisive influence on the game this time, but again left a good impression and, above all, convinced by the fact that he did not go wild, but always acted with the right balance of dynamic advances and calm.
3. Good beginnings despite weak results
In test games you should completely detach the evaluation from the result. What remains of the game against Juventus Turin is the good game plan. Bayern formed many triangles, supported each other in the half spaces and often showed a safe ball circulation.
But it is also clear that Kovač and his team have to work on the details. The counter-pressing was only good at the beginning. After that, Juve usually needed only a few contacts to be dangerous. It is also important to reduce the large number of individual errors.
It would be easy to blame the error rate on the youth players, but the other truth is that they were not well enough supported in these scenes several times.
At least in the first two games it was noticeable that the Munich team liked to open across the half-spaces. The wing strikers or the outer defenders move in a bit and the narrow midfield triangle also pushes into the half space where the attack is to unfold.
The follow-up actions are currently still predictable. Usually the best one-on-one player is used on the site. This scheme would be more variable if options were also constantly offered in the center.
In the first half there were scenes in which Wagner dropped centrally and acted as a relay station. “Wagner-klatsch” is a tried and tested method that also worked last season.
In any case, Kovač will have to work on putting the wing attackers in better scene. Ribéry and Coman showed themselves time and again through their individual class, but Robben and Gnabry were the ones who needed more support from the system and the other players.
Overall, the realization remains that Bayern will often have no other choice but to cope with over 60% ball possession. Even if Kovač and his team have a lot of work to do here, the match plan can still be used. So far, there have been many good approaches in the two test games that need to be refined. Especially when you consider who is still missing, cautious optimism is allowed. However, the focus should be on how the team can develop more punch going forward.