Equilibrium restored? Three takeaways from FC Bayern’s routing of Mainz
If Bayern’s rivals saw a window of opportunity, they were sorely mistaken. With eight weeks to go in the Bundesliga, Niko Kovač’s side remain top of the pile.
1. Where were you on Wednesday?
For the majority of FC Bayern fans, the most perplexing thing about last week’s defeat was the clear lack of quality and fight shown by the team. More so as it has now been sandwiched between two resounding 6:0 victories. What happened? Were Liverpool that good, and Bayern that bad? Is it a sign that the Bundesliga is weaker than it has been in a long time? These discussions have been going on for a while now, and will continue to drag on.
I am not going to dig too deeply here. There were many possible factors. The squad is in desperate need of renewal. Two of the biggest motivators, Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Müller, were missing. A more experienced coach might have reacted differently. Then there was the fear factor, an unconscious decision made by the players that they were simply not good enough; a fear that was heightened when Liverpool took the lead for the first time, and entrenched when they restored their advantage in the second half.
How else can one explain why Die Roten failed to show up in the second half? How else can one explain why they looked so different against Mainz? Yes, Mainz are not Liverpool. To even suggest such a thing would be patently ridiculous. But Liverpool are not superhuman either. In yesterday’s Premier League game against a doomed Fulham side, they looked ordinary. The much-feared Virgil van Dijk, bane of all Bavaria last week, was made to look like an ordinary mortal.
2. Home James
One of the more disappointing actors in the Liverpool defeat was James Rodríguez. What a difference four days makes. With more confidence rippling through the team and the disruptive Thomas Müller on the pitch supporting him, it was like watching a completely different player.
James has often been in the news regarding his future in Munich. Dependent on what stories you read and where you find them, the Colombian is either happy at Bayern or wants to go back to Madrid. When the lazy, petulant James is on show, you just want him to get on the first flight out of FJS. When he is in full flight, it is easy to see how the angel-faced midfielder can become a key player in the team’s next phase of development.
James’ first goal was nonchalant, the culmination of a lovely team move. The second, a clinically precise finish from the edge of the box. The third, in perfect contrast, was a delightful dink that was as cheeky as it was pretty to watch. For all my fulmination about lazy James on Wednesday, the goal that sealed his first hat-trick in a Bayern Trikot made me smile. I am sure it made us all smile.
3. Time to move on
If this latest result tells us anything, it is that we all need to move on from last week’s defeat. FC Bayern have a domestic double to win. If the team continues to play this way, they will take some stopping. Borussia Dortmund know that they are under pressure, and know that it is now a two-horse race towards the finish line.
Apart from James’ stellar show, there were plenty of other positives to take away from yesterday’s game. Six very nice goals (Kingsley Coman’s long-range cracker being the pick), a dominant team performance – albeit against dire opposition – and another clean sheet. It was a much-needed response, and showed that confidence has not been dented. If anything, elimination from the Champions League could give the team a shot in the arm.
In games like this, the coach should be taking a serious look at throwing some of the younger members of the squad into the fray. Confidence begets confidence, and it showed when teenager Alphonso Davies netted his first senior goal for Die Roten. With the impetuousness of youth, the Canadian youngster smashed it home with not a moment’s hesitation.
More of the same, please.
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