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.
Man of the Match
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.
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Thank you Marc for your recap. Another day, another not-so-good game. But we still won, and that counts. The only disappointment is Roca not having another chance, considering his decent showing last Wednesday, and also he would not be able to play vs At. Madrid. You already foreseen this, we will have to live through it. I do not have time normally to watch other teams than Bayern, but just looking at last weekend results in Europe, only Man City and Barca won? And they’re not even top team according to the current position. Or look at Dortmund, an in form team with unreal Haaland who played excellently vs us less than 3 weeks ago. This is the problem every big teams has, and I guess Bayern is still doing relatively better than most.
I’m still excited to watch the clash vs At. Madrid tomorrow. For central midfield, now Goretzka and Tolisso are officially out, the setup will be particularly interesting with only Martinez as the only recognised first team midfielder, and he’s not even a midfielder to begin with. I think chances for either Alaba or Stiller next to Martinez are quite low, hence the most probable would be 4-1-4-1 as you described, maybe Musiala will be given another chance, with a slightly different setup, I’m not giving up on that yet.
Also I’m happy to see Nubel will get a real game. This game could be also a chance for Sane to claim his starting spot, since Gnarbry has been poor recently.
It really was disappointing to see Roca once again left out. As you said, prior to his sending off, he had played relatively well and from my perspective earned more time going forward. However, Flick must still be unhappy with certain aspects of his performance, likely beyond the red card. As Maurice mentioned in his match report, his positioning at times was a little deeper than it should have been which did cause some issues for the CB’s in terms of passing lanes and distribution. It felt like he grew into the game a lot, however the red card was deserved and the two booked fouls were not the only poor challenges on his part. My guess is that Flick would like to see better positioning and defending from him going forward.
Regarding the other teams around Europe, I definitely do not think Bayern are in a unique position. Everyone is going to struggle with the schedule, injuries and fatigue, both physically and mentally. If you so choose to look at things in this way, you could probably argue that the string of injuries that Bayern are facing right now, might actually be a good thing long term. A lot of the players could use a little more time off, especially players like Davies and Kimmich who played nearly every minute last season. In any case, I’d much rather that they miss time now than in March or April so hopefully this will help them to come back stronger and less prone to fatigue and injury. For now, I’d say that Bayern has just as good a chance of competing in every competition, including the CL as any team in Europe.
The lineup will certainly be very interesting tonight. I expect that you’re right regarding Martinez starting as the lone six, but it wouldn’t totally surprise me if he was not in the starting 11 either since he did appear to have that little nag of an injury on Saturday. There are a lot of scenarios that might play out. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hernandez also get a break. So just in the back line, you could see anything from Pavard, Sarr or Richard on the right, Sule, Boateng, Martinez or Alaba in the center, and Hernandez, Richards or Alaba on the left and depending on what he does there, it would be possible for Alaba to play as the six. It seems unlikely to me that Stiller will start. The front will almost certainly contain Choupo-Moting. Apart from that I could again see several scenarios depending on how much Hansi wants to rotate/rest players. Muller and Coman for sure could use the rest, though I suspect they’ll play. He has plenty of options up top though so I suspect the game plan is simply going to be to outscore Atletico which means we could see what I mentioned in the article with Choupo-Moting replacing Lewandowski.
Thanks Marc for always taking time to respond in detail. The comparison with other big clubs was a response to the general disappointment in the performance we discussed from previous games: lack of precision, non working pressing and static positional play. I certainly look at things from optimistic perspective and I don’t disagree on Bayern’s prospect this season.