Bayern Hold On To Win In Paris
Julian Nagelsmann made a few changes from the team that beat Bochum at the weekend with Joshua Kimmich replacing Thomas Müller and Kingsley Coman coming in for Serge Gnabry. Yann Sommer started in goal with Benjamin Pavard, Matthijs de Ligt and João Cancelo in defense. Leon Goretzka started next to Kimmich in midfield with Leroy Sané, Jamal Musiala and Coman playing just behind Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting in attack.
Bayern would start the match completely controlling the first half of play. PSG played deep and only on a few occasions were able to actually make any headway into the Bayern half.
However, Bayern were unable to make much headway themselves in front of goal with only two of their ten shots finding their way on target and neither of those causing much danger to Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Julian Nagelsmann brought on Alphonso Davies to start the second half to replace Cancelo, which paid dividends quickly as Davies was the player who put in a very nice cross to Coman who took the ball on the volly and side footed it under Donnarumma to give Bayern the 0-1 lead (53).
PSG brought on Mbappe in the 57th minute which changed the complexion of the game. Things opened up completely as both teams had far more chances than in the opening 55 minutes.
The last 15 minutes started to see PSG gain more momentum as they had two goals ruled offsides and increasingly put pressure on the Bayern defense. This ultimately put Pavard in a position to pick up a second yellow card on the night leaving Bayern with 10 men for the final minutes, which they managed to close out without further incident setting up an exciting return leg in Munich.
Three Things We Noticed
This is the most apt description of the first half of play from Bayern that I can think of. They literally controlled every level of the game.
The passing was crisp and focused today for the first time since the break. They were composed and unafraid of their opponents. The ball moved around the box with ease.
Defensively, when they were called into action, they didn’t panic and put themselves in position to make the necissary interventions. It was as good a half as we’ve seen from Bayern for quite some time. Apart from one aspect.
As good as Bayern was in every other aspect of the game, they were dreadful at creating actual scoring opportunities.
Nothing moved through the middle. The dreaded U was in full show for most the first half as Bayern maintained possession easily but failed to do more than cross the ball into a heavily defended box or attempt long range efforts with little hope of scoring.
People talk a lot Choupo in these types of situations and whether Lewandowski would have had a different affect. The truth is that while maybe he would be a bit of a better target man in the box, I don’t think anything else likely would have changed.
Bayern often struggle to breakdown teams who clog up the middle of the pitch and have done so dating well past this current season. It’s times like this where we have often needed Musiala or Gnabry or Sadio Mané to come in and do something special.
It’s unlikely that PSG will play anywhere near as compact in Munich for the return leg, but this is still a problem that need rectifying. Gnabry’s form inparticular is starting to become extremely worrying. Nagelsmann needs to find a way to get the mercurial winger back to his best sooner rather than later if Bayern are going to compete on all fronts this season.
After the unusual showing from PSG in the first half, the introduction of Mbappe completely changed the momentum and structure of the match.
Given that Messi and Neymar were on the pitch for that first half, it’s a little surprising just how conservative they were and how ineffective they were going forward.
Mbappe clearly is the linchpin at this point providing the speed and creativity that was lacking prior to his introduction.
Bayern meanwhile will have to find a way to combat this attack and Mbappe’s speed in the return leg. Pavard played a pretty solid match tonight prior to his sending off, but obviously will be without him in Munich.
Cancelo had a quite match prior to his halftime substitution. Assuming he’s not injured, the obvious starting 11 will likely include Cancelo, de Ligt, Upamecano and Davies in defense. This will provide more speed on the outside but also more danger as Cancelo and Davies will certainly be further up the pitch than Pavard was.
If the last half hour was anything to judge by though, we’re in for one hell of match in the return leg.
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Believe it or not Marc, after the the 3 disappointing draws to start 2023, I had to dig out the Bayern T-shirt from my wardrobe to wear when watching each of the next matches. It’s a challenge by itself considering it’s a summer T-shirt, and also as I have been incredibly busy lately, I do not always remember to wash it after each use (!). But the result is 4 consecutive wins, including this 1-0 in Paris, and there will be many more.
Now, if we all pretend that these wins are not down to me but the improvement from both the team’s form and the coach, yes Bayern have been in an upward trajectory, and last night was, all things considered, a very very good game.
It’s true that the attack has not been very brilliant so far, same last night, I think it’s down to various reasons:
– PSG were very compact and they stayed deep, as you said. Also Sergio Ramos was incredible. On Bayern side I think the team also did not want to take a lot of risk, they know PSG’s dangerous counter attack, and there was still 90 minutes to play for at home. Control and calculated risk management than gung-ho, I have no criticism for that. For example in previous Bundesliga game there were a lot of through balls from the Upamecano/Pavard/Kimmich to 1 of the 10 between the lines (usually to Musiala/Muller/Sane). But half of these through balls turned in to counter attack because the opponents crowned the 10′ area and the ball receiver could not turn or combine. I’m happy to see that not happening last night (at the cost of weak central penetration)
– The new attacking structure this season is less stable than last year. When clicked it’s rather good, as good as the attack with a striker from Poland, but when not, it’s rather dull, as it is now. The automatism and precision of autumn has not been back yet, while the fact that Sane, Musiala and especially Davie, Gnarbry’s current form doesn’t help. No Mane either.
– Final ball was abysmal. Oh boy why worked so hard and so well for most of the part, only to gift the opponent the ball when it comes to final delivery?
All in all I think we fully deserved the goal with the total amount of chances generate, maybe even more if we were luckier. I also think last night Bayern’s (intense, concentrated, but also a bit blunt) has more chance to go far than Hansi Flick’s 2021 Bayern who were eliminated by the same team. That team play a spectacular attacking game in the 1st leg, but the defence was so bad.
One thing that contributes to the good domination game of Bayern was PSG’s astonishing lack of any coordinated pressing, or whatsoever. The less defensive work from their forwards is well-known but I’m not watching any team other than Bayern and I was surprised. It must be a nice change of air to our defence and Kimmich who showed a lot of hectic play when being pressed lately.
PSG also showed how dangerous they can be when they’re more desperate so it will definitely a nerve cracking return leg at home. It will again come down to fine margin and also a bit of luck, like all the match ups with them so far. I’m not worried about the Mbappe starting the return leg from the beginning. Unlike most of the fanbase I don’t think it’s necessarily a huge advantage for PSG compared to last game. Strange thing to say but last night Mbappe had the advantage of surprise factor. Even if Nagelsmann had prepared the team for playing again PSG’s No 7, him coming in at 60′ when they were used to the match flow and started to get tired, must be something difficult to deal with. Plus Bayern is not Bayern if there isn’t a 20′ slump period in any random match. In the return they have now a pretty good reminder of this dangerous player, plus having the same match flow (i.e. all play from the start) I’m quite confident (providing at least the same level of concentration, positioning and intensity, and luck too).
Last but not least, watching Pavard late red card feels like a heroic (sacrifice) action in a movie. Without that foul we could have been talking about a draw here, and the moment Pavard started his slide, I think he already knew it was going to be a red card. I like this player with his dedication and team work (only a bit inconsistent both in terms of form and mental), Brazzo please try to keep him. Missing him for the 2nd leg is a disadvantage, do we want to play with a back there again (which I like) with slow Blind or inexperience and slow Stanisic?
Hi Hein! First of all, keep wearing that shirt!
I completely agree that Ramos was fantastic yesterday. Hoenstly, I think it’s the best defensive performance I’ve ever seen from him (keep in mind I only see him occasionally). But he was excellent and PSG as a whole were very good in that compact space they allowed in the first half.
It will be interesting to see if PSG change things up at all. Yes it’s very unlikely you’re going to see any of the MNM group pressing a crazy amount but I suspect they’ll try to strike a balance between the two halves for the next match. I agree that Mbappe’s introduction for this game had a different impact than if he had started. I think he is still the player I’m the most concerned about in the return leg but it won’t probably be quite as dramatic as it was in this match.
For me though, I’m not so sure I even put the 20 minute slump on Bayern last night. I genuinely think PSG were playing that well and that in general, Bayern played pretty consistently well for most of the match. Against a team with that much firepower and that much experience, you have to expect that they’re going to cause problems at some point. You don’t always have to be doing something wrong for players of that caliber to cause problems.
Pavard was really good last night. I was skeptical heading in as his attitude and performances haven’t always been the best. However, I do not understand why Nagelsmann did not sub him off for Stanisic in added time. There was no reason he needed to stay on and risk that inevitable second yellow. For me the back line seems obvious to start the next match. I would be very surprised if it was not Cancelo, de Ligt, Upamecano and Davies. Even in a back 3 this can work. I do not see Blind starting and I also doubt that Stanisic does. I would rather have Davies and Cancelo out their than either of the other two given that at least they can make up a lot of ground with speed.
In regards to the offense, I think it is what it is. If a team comes out as compact as PSG was in the first half, Bayern is going to have a very difficult time getting on the board. If the opposition opens up, Bayern’s prospects also increase. It’s part of the reason that Bayern we far better in the second half. While PSG had more chances (and probably better), Bayern also had several good opportunities to increase their lead. I think that was forgotten a bit with that late flurry of efforts from PSG.