Bayern Grind Out First League Win of 2023
Julian Nagelsmann was forced to make a few changes to the starting eleven thanks to newly added injuries including to Dayot Upamecano and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. Yann Sommer started in goal with João Cancelo, Benjamin Pavard, Matthijs de Ligt and Alphonso Davies in defense. Leon Goretzka resumed his place next to Joshua Kimmich in midfield while Leroy Sané, Jamal Musiala and Kingsley Coman started behind Thomas Müller in attack.
The first half started with the now familiar struggles in the back. Several careless giveaways following poor passes and pressure handling resulted in a few near chances for Wolfsburg.
However after just eight minutes, and completely against the run of play, Kingsley Coman dribbled down the left flank and crossed in towards Müller who missed the ball completely but luckily the Wolfsburg defense did as well and the ball bounced into the side netting 0-1 (9).
Wolfsburg had a fantastic chance to level just three minutes later as Wimmer put an untouched ball across the face of goal but no one from Wolfsburg could take advantage.
In the 14th minute Bayern struck again as Cancelo dribbled down the right and crossed to an open Coman who volleyed it in for a fantastic goal 0-2 (14).
Just five minutes later Bayern won a free kick on the left side of the midfield, Kimmich hit in a good ball to a waiting Müller who easily headed it past Koen Casteels 0-3 (19).
Kimmich and Sané both would pick up stupid yellow cards in the 34th minute as Kimmich pushed over Mattias Svanberg following a foul and Sané was booked for arguing.
The following 25 minutes were back and forth with Bayern perhaps having the best chances but Wolfsburg having the higher volume. Then in the 44th minute, Wolfsburg finally got a goal through Jakub Kamiński as he broke into the box and hit it in off the hand of Sommer 1-3 (44).
The second half opened with no changes for either team and with Wolfsburg continuing their onslaught of the Bayern defense. They had several seemingly unmissable chances to score in the first few minutes of the half but a few key blocks and misses prevented the score from changing.
Things then got far worse for Bayern as Kimmich picked up a second yellow in the 54th minute for very lightly pulling down Maximillian Arnold leaving the Munich side to play with 10 men. Immediately after, Serge Gnabry replaced Coman on the wing.
In the 60th minute, Nagelsmann would make two more changes bringing on Josip Stanišić for Müller and Mathys Tel for Sané thereby changing the formation to be far more defensive.
In the 73 minute, Jamal Musiala took the ball in on the wing in a seemingly innocuous position. He shook off his defender and started dribbling towards the box losing defender after defender before finally skipping past the last two and hitting a low shot into the near corner 1-4.
A few minutes later in the 77th minute Nagelsmann made his final two changes as Paul Wanner and Daley Blind replaced Musiala and Cancelo.
With ten minutes left, Wolfsburg added another goal thanks to Svanberg who blasted a shot into the roof of the net from just outside the six yard box 2-4 (80).
In the 83rd minute Wolfsburg appeared to score from open play but a whistle blew for a prior foul which then went to VAR review. Ultimately the referee called a foul on Ridle Baku who had taken out Goretzka in the build up and the score remained unchanged.
That seemed to take out the final bit of spirit left in Wolfsburg as neither team managed to make much headway through the remaining seven minutes and extra time ending the match 2-4.
Unquestionably, this was a good result. Especially when you factor in the sending off early in the second half. The actual performance however still left a lot to be desired.
Bayern were clearly the second best team on the pitch today, albeit with the better individual players. All of the goals came from either luck or a couple of individuals making fantastic plays on their own.
On another day, this game could have been an absolute disaster with Wolfsburg having by far the more consistant run of play and opportunities. The expected goals numbers bear that out with Wolfsburg at 2.51 and Bayern a measily 0.56.
Wolfsburg even managed to have more possession than Bayern (52%-48%), which of course was aided by Kimmich’s sending off, but nevertheless was very indicitive of the performance overall.
So while they can be happy that managed to get a win and remain atop the Bundesliga standings, there should be no joy in their actual performance.
All of that said, they managed to win when they were subpar. It’s something every team, regardless of how good they are, have to do every year. At the very least, they showed that they’re not going to be easy to beat, even when they’re not at their best.
At some point though, these performances are going to need to improve. The ball controll and passing especially need to improve quickly. They will now have a week to prepare to host Bochum before the first of their Champions League matches against PSG on the 14th.
If they are to have any chance of advancing to the quarter finals, they need to use this coming week and a half to get healthier and more clinical in nearly every area.
In just two matches, Cancelo is already looking like an indespensible piece to this team. He has provided more at the right back position than we’ve seen since Kimmich moved to midfield and arguably since Lahm retired.
His contributions in the attack have regularly seen him add two assists to his name in as many games and several more passes that by all rights should have resulted in goals. On the other end of the pitch, he has more than once made excellent tackles or blocks to keep the opposition from scoring.
Similarly, Coman has been fantastic so far this year. At the moment, he is by far the most consistent offensive player available to Bayern. Every match he is creating opportunities and working hard off the ball.
As of right now Gnabry and Sané both appear to be fighting for the second spot on the wing and with Mané back in training, they may be fighting for the first off the bench soon.
Lastly, Musiala appears to have quickly moved past those early underwhelming performances to start the season. The goal in todays match was absolutely brilliant and reminded anyone who needed it, that he is a generational talent.