Bayern Easily Dispatch Plzen
However, Bayern were facing their first injury crisis heading into Wednesday’s clash with Viktoria Plzen. The back line especially is decimated with injuries forcing Julian Nagelsmann to make several changes.
Sven Ulreich started in goal for the injured Manuel Neuer. In front of him Noussair Mazraoui moved Benjamin Pavard into the center with Dayot Upamecano with Josip Stanisic filling in for the injured Alphonso Davies.
Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka took their normal places in the midfield with the attack being comprised of Kingsley Coman, Thomas Müller, Leroy Sané and Sadio Mané.
Three Things We Noticed
Dominating First Half
If anyone was worried about this match given all the missing players, those worries were quickly put to rest. Bayern would take the lead in the tenth minute through Mané and never look back.
By the 35th minute, Bayern had taken a commanding 0-4 lead thanks to a goal from Müller (14) and two from Goretzka (25, 35).
They made it all look far too easy too. The front line countless times were able to get free on a well placed pass from the midfield to open up the Plzen defense. They were even pretty clinical in front of goal but still could have added at least one or two more on another night.
Despite not scoring in the match, Coman in particular deserves a mention. He seemed to be involved in everything during the first half. Many, including myself, wondered how he would recapture a place in the squad when back to health, but with performances like tonight, the better question is how you don’t find a place for him.
Apathetic Second Half
Then the second half. It didn’t take long to figure out that Bayern had checked out at the half. There was next to no energy from the Bavarians and they wanted nothing more than to casually play out the remaining 45 minutes and go home to their beds.
In fairness, I think many Bayern fans would have been ok with forgoing the second half altogether as well. The last thing that we currently need is overly tired or more injured players.
However that apathy allowed Plzen to score against Bayern not once but twice. They were easily the more dangerous and attacking team in the second half and while I never felt as though there was a real danger of them coming all the way back, it would be a lie to say it didn’t cross my mind at all.
However, they were ultimately able to hold on to the lead capturing all three points and clinching their place in the knockout round.
On to the Next One
Up next Bayern will face the always tough, and currently second place, Freiburg at home on Sunday. With only one win in their last five Bundesliga matches coupled with the copious absentee list, we can expect this to be a tough challenge.
On the bright side, Thomas Müller looks as though he’ll be available after being taken off quickly in the match with Plzen. The front line in particular looked very good together and very capable of opening up defenses.
All we can do now is hope that a few more players become available and that the team that shows up Sunday looks a lot more like the one who played in the first half tonight rather than the one who played in the second.
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Getting the passed ticket after only 4 matches in the so-called Group of Death is something to celebrate. And the team have not even play optimally. It’s quite funny.
Starting from Kovac, then Flick and now Nagelsmann, coping with the departure of players such as Thiago, Alaba … I think the current Bayern no longer master (or even know how to play) the art of playing out a game in energy-conserving mode. This Bayern team can play with speed, intensity, and counter pressing that when things click, are devastating, but calm and smart possession play to keep the ball and wear out the opponents is not something I can see now. There have been so many scene of them letting the opponents back to the game (and a lot of times those opponents are successful e.g. Dortmund, Stuttgart) and this can be traced back to 2020 not just this season.
I hope they will get better at this kind of “professional football” aside from the usual issues (precision, positioning and limiting mistakes” otherwise this compressed season will expose it.
It’s probably tied in to the style and formation they play in, as Nagelsmann’s formation are less conservative than Flick or Kovac. Flick’s formation in particular are better at getting out of pressing situation. Like the one-two pass that we oftenly seen between Davies and Coman, or Davies and Thiago/Goretzka on the sideline to get out of a press.