The same boring story yet again
Thomas Tuchel’s reign at Bayern Munich is still young, yet the fans have begun to get accustomed to a familiar pattern. Bayern enters a match as the clear favorites, dominates possession, has absolutely no cutting edge and no idea how to break down low blocks, chucks in a bunch of crosses to players under 5’10”, before conceding to the odd counterattack. It has already caused the team to drop games against Freiburg, Hoffenheim, Mainz, while Bayern followed the same script only to squeak out victories against Freiburg (again), Hertha Berlin last week and today against Werder Bremen.
In total, Bayern has scored 13 goals in 9 games in all competitions under Tuchel. If we remove the outlier of the Dortmund game, in which Bayern scored 4, it’s even worse. 9 goals in 8 games. For context, the bottom three teams in the Bundesliga, VFB Stuttgart, VFL Bochum and Hertha Berlin, have scored 13, 10 and 9 goals respectively in their last 8 games in all competitions.
Considering that Bayern was one of the teams with the best attacks in Europe before Tuchel joined, only to score at the rate of a relegation threatened team now, it’s a problem that seems to fall squarely on his shoulders. It’s important to note that he was thrust into a terrible position and only last week did he have a full week to train with the team, but even so, things need to improve. And fast.
Gravenberch and Kimmich partnership is still flawed, but improving
We got the first real taste of the Ryan Gravenberch and Joshua Kimmich partnership in the January friendly against RB Salzburg. It ended 4-4 and the midfield duo were absolutely dreadful defensively, consistently allowing the Austrian champions to slice through the heart of the Bayern team. We saw this partnership again in the 3-2 loss to Gladbach and it wasn’t much better, though a mitigating factor is that Bayern were down a man. Still, Gravenberch was hauled off at halftime.
So how was the partnership this time around? It was… fine, which is a massive improvement. Gravenberch put in a lot more effort off the ball and prevented Bremen from making any dangerous counter attacks. Kimmich and Gravenberch still looked completely out of sync in certain phases of the game, but in settled possession and in the first few seconds after losing the ball, the duo looked pretty good together. It was noticeable how much less control Bayern had of the game when Gravenberch was replaced.
However, Gravenberch was particularly unimaginative on the ball today and his substitution was not undeserved. He will need to keep improving to challenge for a starting spot. Though, if Leon Goretzka continues playing poorly, maybe the Dutchman’s current level should rival Bayern’s #8 after all.
Mazraoui and Sane make their cases for more playing time
Two players who have struggled for game time recently have been Noussair Mazraoui and Leroy Sane. In Tuchel’s first five games in charge, Mazraoui was only allowed to play a grand total of one minute and has only recently played more due to a rash of defensive injuries, while Sane has been benched for the last three games. Both had ample motivation to prove themselves today and they did so fairly well.
The obvious highlight is when Mazraoui combined with Sane for Sane to slot the ball into the goal, for what turned out to be the match winner. But the Moroccan also showed consistent quality on the ball, demonstrated intelligent positioning on and off the ball and proved to be indomitable on the right. Meanwhile, Sane came off the bench to immediately add his verve and skill to the game, immediately giving the team a shot in the arm which lead to an obvious uptick in Bayern’s overall game. Sane was perhaps not as impressive as Mazraoui today and still faded in the last few minutes, but he had done enough at that point. The two certainly did not do their chances of more playing time no harm today.
Bouna Sarr played a game for Bayern this season! It finally happened! By the way, Bayern has won every game Sarr has played this season. Maybe he should play more often.
Interested in an in-depth discussion of the win over Bremen? Then check out our postgame podcast! Listen to it below or on Spotify.
As always, we appreciate all the support!