Back to Winning Ways in Stuttgart
The match started off with Lewandowski getting a fantastic chance to head home a Coman cross in the third minute but his aim was just off and it pinged off the post. Seventeen minutes later Stuttgart would take the lead after Neuer missed a low cross that found Coulibaly for an easy tap in. It would take eighteen more minutes for Bayern to find an equalizer but once again it was Coman who received the ball outside the box, cut in and hit a low screamer into the bottom of the net.
It then looked like the two sides would head into halftime tied but Robert Lewandowski had other ideas. Coman once again would play in a low pass to the worlds greatest striker who would let it roll past his body before blasting it past the Stuttgart keeper to give Bayern a 1-2 lead.
The second half would start off relatively slowly with very few chance for either team. Unfortunately what did follow was a string of injuries that Bayern can ill afford at the moment. First Hernandez took a spill that he was slow to get up from and moments after got stomped on and was forced to come off. Next, Boateng appeared to tweak a muscle and was forced to go off. Finally Corentin Tolisso over extended his leg and hurt his hamstring and immediately signaled to be replaced. Fortunately, Douglas Costa decided the match a few minutes after Tolisso’s injury with a nice cut in and shot from the right wing. However towards the end of the match, the injury situation also may have gotten a little worse as Javi Martinez went into a challenge and started grabbing his groin while wincing. The Spaniard did stay on to finish the match but was noticeably limping and troubled even as he left the pitch following the final whistle.
It seems almost ridiculous now that we all had Coman as the clear third choice winger going into this season. There were very valid reasons to think so but his play has been by far the best and most consistent of the season thus far. As good as Coman has been however, in a way this says more about the form of Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane than anything.
Both have shown glimpses of the talent that we all know they have. Even recently, both have had moments that either won a match or were super important for the club. However neither has been able to consistently put together performances at that level. Unfortunately, those performances have even been worsening recently.
Gnabry especially has been very poor in the last few matches and has been unable to really make an impact in any meaningful way. While he has been known to go in and out of form very quickly since his arrival, we all were hoping that this season might be a turning point for him. That however has simply not been the case and it has been the Frenchman not the German who has thrived. If Bayern are going to compete on all fronts again this season, they will need all three of their talented wingers to get into form. With them at their best, Bayern look very formidable even with some of the other injury issue, but if they are not hitting on all levels, things will get very iffy against the better teams.
It was yet again another hard fought match. There were still periods where Stuttgart obviously had the upper hand. However, there were also signs of improvement. Bayern have had a little more control than they were showing a few weeks ago. The midfield and defense have been ever so slightly better. They will never be able to replace Kimmich’s presence, but there are some signs that they may be able to muddle through.
Those marginal improvements though leave a lot of room to grow still. Tolisso again did not have a great match. Goretzka appears to be attempting to play both positions in the midfield which is a losing proposition and his counterpart was simply unable to figure out what his role should be. This resulted yet again in no consistent connection between the defense and offense.
If Tolisso and Javi are unable to play on Tuesday with Marc Roca already missing due to his red card against Salzburg, Hansi Flick is going to have to be very creative in how he lines up against Atletico. It will probably mean a very attacking formation with a slightly deeper Müller playing next to Goretzka. However, who fills in could be equally interesting. One possible solution might be to insert Sane and play Gnabry behind Lewandowski. That would allow for a very versatile attacking force with Müller, Gnabry, Coman and Sane all being able to switch relatively fluidly and if they put in the work pressing, could also help to prevent some of the defensive issues they have faced as well. However, there are clear problems with such a lineup so let’s hope that things aren’t so bad with those players that were forced off.
It probably will come as no surprise after having praised him so thoroughly through out this article but my man of the match is Kingsley Coman. There were other impressive performances as well. Neuer was yet again very good. Lewandowski played extremely well. But it was the French winger that once again really stood out. He was involved in nearly every real chance that Bayern had today while he was on the pitch. He and Lewandowski were the primary outlets that Goretzka and the defense always seemed to find when starting an attack or looking to release. His passing and crosses were crisp and precise and his decision making was excellent. To top it off, he yet again displayed that new found decisiveness when on the ball around the box as exemplified by his leveler. All in all, it’s hard to find much room for criticism in his form at the moment.