Grim and grubby: three takeaways from FC Augsburg v FC Bayern
The Bavarians have cut Borussia Dortmund’s advantage at the top to just two points, and will be hoping for 1. FC Nürnberg to pull off an almighty shock on Monday. Stranger things have happened.
Bayern have set many records over the years. If you were to look through the long list of Bundesliga superlatives and landmarks, Die Roten get plenty of mentions. In front of a noisy crowd at the WWK-Arena, they added one more to this list. But not a good one.
Straight from the kick-off, Augsburg launched their first attack. Philipp Max sent in a speculative cross from the left, and the ball landed in a sea of red bodies. The unfortunate Leon Goretzka was unable to steer the ball away, jabbing into his own net past the returning Manuel Neuer.
With just thirteen seconds on the clock, it was one of the fastest goals of the season. It was also the fastest own goal in the entire history of the Bundesliga.
The biggest problem was that this embarrassing defensive calamity was not the only one. Bayern were at sixes and sevens for Augsburg’s second goal, and a botched clearance by Niklas Süle could very well have seen a repeat of what happened last year at the Allianz Arena.
In what was a pretty ordinary display from Niko Kovač’s side, one man stood head and shoulders above the rest. While serge Gnabry had an off night and Robert Lewandowski was unable to find the back of the net, Kingsley Coman played a blinder.
There was nothing particularly spectacular about both of the French winger’s goals, but they came just at the right time. The first was a piece of excellent positioning to get on the end of Joshua Kimmich’s pinpoint cross, but the second was a little bit fortunate, with FCA keeper Gregor Kobel tying himself up in knots before being nutmegged.
Coman came close to completing a hat-trick when his smart header was turned over the bar, but just before that he was involved in the creation of what would be the winning goal, netted with precision by David Alaba.
Of course, these things never go to plan. Minutes from the end, Coman was left clutching that cursed left ankle after a clumsy challenge from Kevin Danso. He was unable to finish the match, and his condition is still unclear. It was a suitably grubby ending in what had been a grubby match.
After all of the buildup, predictions and gossip, the Champions League meeting with Liverpool is almost upon us. The situation is bad as it is, and we can only hope that Coman is fit to participate in what will be the biggest game of the season so far.
What is clear that if the team play as badly at Anfield as they did tonight, they will be looking at a swift and ugly exit. Against a spirited but ordinary team like Augsburg, they were able to make up for the defensive blinders. Against the Premier League leaders, it will not be so easy.
It is not only about the defence, of course. A number of Bayern players were below par tonight, and will have to pick up their game in four days time. James Rodríguez was poor. Lewy and Gnabry were far from sharp. Thiago was not his usual silky self. While he did add energy to the midfield, Thomas Müller cannot even buy a goal at the moment.
It may well be that the spirit of the occasion drives the Bavarians to bigger and better things. But right now it is more a matter of hope than even mild expectation.