ICC: Bayern beats Milan 1-0
Kansas City was host to a match that marked the last of one the ICC for Bayern and the first one for Milan.
Niko Kovač started his team in a 4-3-3 again. In front of Neuer in goal, the back four was composed of Kimmich, Süle, Pavard, and Davies. Tolisso replaced Thiago as the deep number six, Sanches (left) and Goretzka (right) occupied the two offensive positions in midfield.
In attack, Arp started as the central striker, with Müller on the right and Coman on the left wing at his side. The Rossoneri’s new coach Marco Giampaolo sent his team out in a 4-diamond-2 formation.
It was obvious from the outset that Bayern was at a more advanced stage of their preparations. They immediately assumed control of the match. Against the run of play, Milan had the first real chance of the match through Theo Hernández, Lucas’s younger brother, which Neuer could parry. After a bit of bouncing around, the ball eventually got to Biglia, whose shot from 20 meters out went above the goal.
Now Bayern increasingly tried to move the ball forward quickly downfield to the attack line, often after Sanches or Goretzka had won possession. Most of the time, the ball was cycled through the pivotal Coman, whose marker Calabria barely got a hold of him. So too in the 9th minute, when Coman made a push for the penalty box and went down after a slight contact with Calabria. Referee Chapman waived the game to continue.
At the end of the first half, Bayern enjoyed a prolonged spell of containing Milan to their own penalty area. In stoppage time, Coman on the left switched play to Kimmich on the right, who picked a clever pass to Goretzka. Donnarumma did not stand a chance against Goretzka’s confident finish. 1-0.
Kovač started the second half with his team changed in three positions. Neuer changed for Ulreich in goal, Thiago came on for Tolisso in midfield, and youngster Ivan Mihaljevic got his first appearance on the US tour. He came on for Kimmich and replaced Pavard as the right centre-back, who in turn moved out to the right full-back position. In the 59th minute, Kovač also subbed on Alaba and Singh for Coman and Sanches. Davies moved up one position.
Milan’s biggest chance of the game came in the 63th minute, when by an unforced error Niklas Süle carelessly surrendered the ball to Cutrone, who lost the resulting one-on-one duel against Ulreich.
On the whole, the second half was a considerably quieter affair than the first. Seldom highlights came in the form of two marvellous late actions by Thiago in the 87th and 90th minute, respectively, neither one of which, however, was crowned by a goal. In the first instance, Thiago swerved past two Milan players and nudged the ball gently to Arp who could not find the net after a slight collision with Gabbia. The second time, he chipped the ball over Milan’s defence right into the path of the onrushing Alaba, whose goal was ruled offside. Soon after the game ended and thus the only goal by Goretzka marked the end of a victorious match and a successful US tour.
Three matches, three times with a 4-3-3 formation. Whereas single performances should be appraised with a pinch of caution during preparation, it is the ideal time for a team to study and drill tactical setups. In this regard, it looks like Kovač has a clear plan. An offensive 4-3-3 seems his way to go. Players like Goretzka and Tolisso could benefit from this as they have a knack for quick, darting runs into the opponent’s penalty area. At the other end of the scale, Müller could end up a prominent loser. His strengths lie elsewhere.
The downsides of Kovač’s system are well known: there are considerable unoccupied spaces to the left and right of the single holding midfielder. This quickly becomes a problem in defensive transition when the opponent gets past the first pressing line. In these situations, Bayern is still very vulnerable, something that was evident even in the dominant game against Milan.
This could become the most French season ever in Bayern’s history. In the game against Milan, they did not only wear their new, blue Champions League shirts, but also took to the pitch with three Frenchmen in their starting line-up. All three of them rendered a convincing performance, raising high expectations for the new season. Tolisso performed well in the Thiago role even though he had a few lapses of concentration. Pavard could convince in both his roles in defence and Coman was the most conspicuous player on the pitch, especially the in first half. Add to that Lucas Hernández who is about to be match fit, and complete is the FC Bavière!
After the game against Real, Arp showed himself critical of his own performance. He admitted that he had not yet reached the standard Bayern would expect of a player like him. His performance against Milan underlined the truth of his assessment. Again, he did not play a convincing role as the central striker and did not really take part for long spells of the match. He hardly won a duel against an opponent or made any effective use of the ball. He let himself be jostled around for too easily too. In the 82nd minute, he was unlucky when his goal was disallowed after a handball call.
Davies, on the other hand, presented himself eager and willing to perform, continually solving tricky situations through his speed and agility. Counts against him were the lack of precision in his passing, which is always precarious when building up from defence. He also considerably struggled with finding the right zones in his defensive movements. He suffered from the absence of a dedicated marker in Milan’s system from whom he could have taken his cues. However, the idea of turning him into a left defender still seems one worth pursuing. He certainly has the requisite talent for that.