Bundesliga: The reasons for Bayern’s weak restart

Two draws, some top performers aren’t performing and a lot of noise off the field – FC Bayern Munich certainly had a different idea of ​​returning to day-to-day business after the long World Cup break. Before the cracker against Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, one thing is clear: the record champions face a number of problems.

“Overslept”, a sad Hasan Salihamidzic summed up FC Bayern’s botched Bundesliga restart after the 1-1 draw against 1. FC Köln – after all, four days earlier it hadn’t been enough in Leipzig.

“It’s high time we switched over,” said Bayern’s sporting director and warned: “We have to understand that it’s about the championship now.” After the World Cup in Qatar, which was disappointing for a large part of the squad, the players don’t give the impression that they have understood the seriousness of the situation, he commented meaningfully with: “Yes, I have that feeling too.”

The weak start to the second half of the season can be seen at several construction sites.

FC Bayern: Jamal Musiala on the way to the form crisis

He was one of Germany’s few bright spots at the World Cup, but Jamal Musiala hasn’t really found his feet at FC Bayern since then. As in Leipzig, the 19-year-old hardly achieved anything.

Only one of his five dribbles was successful, he lost eight of his twelve duels – and on top of that there was a pass rate of 58 percent in the attacking third, which was below average for his standards. After all, it worked differently than at the start with a shot on goal.

The Bayern talent actually threatens to slip into his first form crisis. It was characteristic of his performance when he repeatedly made the wrong decision in the second half and went into a hopeless dribbling instead of finishing from a promising position. A scene that trainer Julian Nagelsmann even moved to a little reprimand.

“We have a thousand percent chance with Jamal, where we just have to be clearer in a situation like this. Finish clearer,” he said Sat 1. Shortly thereafter, Musiala’s working day was over. Thomas Müller came into play for him.

In his current role as “noble joker”, Müller could not knock the buck over, but still provided a breath of fresh air in Bayern’s meanwhile sluggish attacking game and even almost made it 1-1 himself when he headed the brilliant FC goalkeeper Marvin Schwäbe failed.

The role of Müller, who was on the bench for the second time in a row, has been hotly debated for days when FCB officials confront the press – and the questions will certainly not decrease if Musiala’s performances are not significant getting better. Around the top game against Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, the next round will very likely be heralded.

FC Bayern: Missing solution in central midfield

A little further behind Musiala and Müller is another Bayern construction site. Although Joshua Kimmich improved significantly compared to the Leipzig game – even apart from his goal in the 90th minute – and Leon Goretzka was probably the best Munich player on the pitch in the first half, there was a noticeable lack of coordination in the control center.

While Kimmich acted as a backup and build-up player in Nagelsmann’s offensive 4-2-3-1 system, which can also be seen as a 2-3-5 when in possession of the ball, Goretzka was almost at his side to find Musiala. Every now and then there was a huge hole in between, which made it easy for Cologne to quickly bridge the center after winning the ball and to overplay the advanced FCB defense relatively easily.

Kimmich then primarily attributed the weak first half to his team’s lack of “attitude and sharpness”. “In the end it’s relatively easy to change, it’s not a matter of tactics or technique or fitness, it’s just the willingness. I expect that we can change that relatively quickly,” he explained: “We have to be more gripping and greedy again. Last year it was a completely different self-image.”

As those responsible and players emphasized across the board, Bayern presented themselves much more consistently in their actions in the second 45 minutes. This was mainly due to the improved game against the ball, which was also due to the fact that Goretzka had to leave the pitch after being hit to the head. Because replacement Ryan Gravenberch filled his role a lot more defensively.

As a kind of bodyguard, the Dutchman gave Kimmich the necessary freedom to direct the game from the center line in the usual way. At the time he scored from around 30 meters, the people of Cologne no longer dared to go near him. An application from the permanent reserve for further assignments – also for the starting eleven.

Gravenberch’s substitution was another blow for Marcel Sabitzer, who spent another 90 minutes on the bench. Accordingly frustrated, he ran straight to the team bus shortly after the game as one of the first professionals. After he played Kimmich’s next-door man more often at the beginning of the season, his services hardly seem to be needed anymore.

With his quick departure, Sabitzer probably already had in mind that Konrad Laimer’s imminent commitment for the coming season will not exactly increase his chances of playing time. But on the contrary.

FC Bayern: Two fires in the background

To make matters worse, there is still a lot going on behind the scenes. First, Bayern separated from their long-time goalkeeping coach and new confidante Toni Tapalovic because of insurmountable differences with Nagelsmann and his team, then Serge Gnabry thought it was a good idea to go to Paris for Fashion Week on his day off after the Leipzig game to travel.

“It’s amateurish, it doesn’t suit Bayern Munich,” Salihamidzic dismissed the winger in the catacombs of the Allianz Arena: “On a day off, it’s important to rest and not twirl around somewhere. We’ll talk about that.”

Nagelsmann announced before the game that Gnabry would now have to provide “answers” on the pitch. None! The international stayed in the dressing room at half-time. He was replaced by Kingsley Coman, who noticeably stimulated the offensive game and thus had an influence on the increase in performance.

Although Nagelsmann asserted that his decision was “certainly not a Fashion Week issue”, the intervention, which was early by his standards, should not only be due to Gnabry’s moderate performance. In the end, the entire offensive fell far short of their expectations. Leroy Sané, for example, hadn’t really been able to convince on the other flank either. However, the choice fell on Gnabry.

It is now up to Nagelsmann, Salihamidzic and Co. to calm things down as quickly as possible. After all, the weeks of truth have long since begun. In addition to the upcoming game at Eintracht Frankfurt, the round of 16 in the DFB Cup in Mainz (February 1) and the first leg against PSG (February 14) are just around the corner.

With a view to the Champions League round of 16 against Paris Saint-Germain, Salihamidzic emphasized that there was “enough time” to solve the problems. Nevertheless, he issued a warning: “It is important that we all wake up.”

FC Bayern Munich: The games after the winter break

date contest Opponent Result
January 20th Bundesliga RB Leipzig (A) 1:1
January 24th Bundesliga 1. FC Cologne (H) 1:1
January 28th Bundesliga Eintracht Frankfurt (H) -:-
February 1st DFB Cup Mainz 05 (A) -:-
February 5th Bundesliga VfL Wolfsburg (A) -:-
February 11th Bundesliga VfL Bochum (H) -:-
14th of February Champions League PSG (A) -:-

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