One of those evenings: three takeaways from FC Bayern’s Super Cup defeat by Borussia Dortmund
Manuel Neuer has always been a complex character. One of Germany’s all-time greats, a hero for many, yet prone to moments of complete and utter madness, more often than not tied to his obsession to channel his inner Franz Beckenbauer.
With less that a minute on the clock, we saw the very best of the FC Bayern goalkeeper. The opening seconds saw Dortmund’s attack cleave through the Bavarian defence, and in any other world Marco Reus would have buried the chance.
When Neuer is standing between the sticks, it is not just any other world. The Dortmund skipper’s shot was cleanly hit, and on target. But there was Manu, flying to his left and turning the ball behind with a solid and fully-extended right arm.
But after the magnificence came the madness. Under no pressure whatsoever, the man in green charged out of his area to meet Paco Alcácer – or at least that was the idea. He got nowhere near, and could only watch – with the rest of us – as the Spaniard’s shot thankfully rolled past the outside of the goal.
Last season, this was a oft-repeated statistic. Bayern dominating games for long spells, creating plenty of opportunities, but failing to capitalise and put the other team away. It was the same old story this evening at the Signal Iduna Park.
According to the kicker statistics, the Bavarians bossed the possession with 65% of the ball. They also made more passes, racking up 650 – almost double their opponent’s 331. Passing accuracy was up at 89% to Dortmund’s 83%. Bayern also had more that three times the number of shots on goal than the Ruhrpott outfit.
As is often the case, the raw numbers mask the grim reality. Dortmund may have only had a paltry five shots at goal to Bayern’s sixteen, but they made two of them count. Bayern may have hit a passing accuracy of 89%, but included in that forgotten 11% was the dreadful pass from Thiago that resulted in Alcácer’s opening goal for Lucien Favre’s men.
While there were missed opportunities, there was plenty of bad luck too. Sometimes a team doesn’t get the rub of the green, and this evening was one of those occasions.
That all being said, on another night Bayern could also have been reduced to nine men: an off-colour Robert Lewandowski was lucky to get away with a two-footed challenge on Dortmund keeper Marwin Hitz, while the otherwise excellent Joshua Kimmich was also fortunate after his gentle off-pitch stamp on Jadon Sancho was deemed just a bookable offense by the VAR team in Köln.
As Bayern fans, we should just forget about this evening and let Dortmund enjoy their little trophy-winning moment.
There is plenty of work to be done, particularly in defence. New boy Benjamin Pavard did get a few minutes on the pitch, but both Niklas Süle (who gave the ball away in the opening seconds) and Jérôme Boateng (completely skinned by Sancho for Dortmund’s second goal) were pretty sluggish.
While Leon Goretzka had some bright moments, Corentin Tolisso was pretty much a no-show. As for Thiago, he has had far better evenings in the famous red Trikot – and that is being generous. The 4-3-3 system has always looked good on paper, but did the job of completely neutralising the entire defensive midfield unit and reducing them to headless, error-prone chickens. I am loath to throw stones at the coach, but more (and better) tweaks are needed.
Do we need another winger? This continues to be the major theme of the ongoing debate among Bayern fans, particularly with Serge Gnabry not fit to start in this match. The unpredictable Kingsley Coman continues to serve up more questions than answers, and Canadian teenager Alphonso Davies added little in what was just under half an hour on the pitch. But then, this could all be tied to the overall formation. See above.
I have avoided the transfer tittle-tattle over the summer, and have no intention of starting now. So no… I am not going to go there.
It may have been a glorified preseason warmup match, but Dortmund have shown that they mean business. Though we should have expected nothing less. The only thing Niko Kovač and the team can do now is take this defeat on the chin, and move on.