Bayern, a running-in defense

Climbing aboard the Bayern car last July, Julian Nagelsmann surely expected to dominate the Bundesliga. However, if the Munich residents are largely leaders in their championship, a few mechanical problems sometimes come to stop the machine.

After their surprise defeat on the lawn of promoted Bochum (4-2), many observers expected to see Bayern roll up their sleeves and take FC Red Bull Salzburg by the throat. It has not happened. On Wednesday evening, Julian Nagelsmann’s men even had to wait until the last minute of play and a goal from Kingsley Coman to avoid going off the road which would have caused the giant to falter. Worse: in Austria, the Munich residents displayed rather unusual weaknesses for a machine that is usually so well oiled. If the rekordmeister is still today well ahead of its championship with six points ahead of Dortmund and has a good chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Champions League, the state of its defense deserves a pit stop. Beyond eight goals conceded in their last four outings in all competitions, Bayern managed to break an old record last weekend by conceding all four goals in the defeat at Bochum in a single half. What’s happening ?

A new driver and mechanics to adjust

In Leizpig, Nagelsmann had however taken the habit of sailing aboard a reference team on the defensive level: the best in the Bundesliga last season (32 goals conceded in 34 games). This season, his Bayern have already conceded 25 goals in 22 league matches, an average of 1.14 goals conceded per match (compared to 0.94 last season for Leipzig). If the Bavarians still have, by far, the best attack in Germany (already 70 goals scored!), the rotten would be well advised to solidify their rearguard when their offensives sometimes struggle to be creative or effective, as during the trip to Austria on Wednesday (2.35xG for a single goal scored). We must concede one thing to the young German technician: the Bayern he recovered saw two major defensive elements – David Alaba and Jérôme Boateng – set sail, and a third – Niklas Süle – will pack his bags for Dortmund at the end of the season. . A surprising choice when you know that the Bavarian club usually only rarely separates from elements in full force of age.

Dayot, he’s not the mechanic

If Bayern has somewhat shaken up its policy in recent years by taking out the checkbook to fill these departures, the latest recruits in the defensive sector are for the moment far from giving complete satisfaction. Symbol of the sinking in the first half in Bochum, Dayot Upamecano is, for example, not spared by the critics. A few days ago, Lothar Matthäus notably qualified the French defender, already fragile during the victory against Hertha Berlin (4-1) at the end of January, of “dead weight, both in building play and in defensive behavior” . The French international is going through a delicate period, but Nagelsmann continues to support his defective piece: “Some things could have been better, but he’s still a young player and we sometimes forget that…” His mistakes cost him his place in the starting eleven in Salzburg.

On the other side of the defense, another French international, also recruited at a high price by Bayern, is subject to debate, not for mistakes made, but for his use. It is however difficult to throw the stone at the 2018 world champion, used to plug the hole left by Alphonso Davies, currently absent with heart problems. During the defeat in Bochum, Hernández was thus given the task of occupying the lane, while in Salzburg or against Leipzig (3-2), Kingsley Coman was placed as a piston and his compatriot replaced within a defense at three. Bayern then evolved with five very attacking profiles, which had the effect of unbalancing the team on several sequences. Among the only professional laterals that the rekordmeister in his workforce, Omar Richards is struggling to establish himself as a worthy replacement for Davies. The 24-year-old Englishman has to settle for a few games and entries. Not really in the plans of the pilot Nagelsmann, who has already had to digest a few slaps. He must quickly find a solution to help a sector which will be scrutinized on Sunday, against Greuther Fürth.

By Nelio Da Silva

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