Bayern Munich look lost – Thomas Tuchel’s team has too many individuals

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The clash with unbeaten league leaders Bayer Leverkusen was a game for “pulling down (our) trousers and putting the cards on the table,” buoyant Bayern Munich head coach Thomas Tuchel had said. But instead of the desired show of prowess, Saturday’s big reveal was a truly sorry sight.

His Bayern side had little up front and a dangerously exposed back side. Their hand turned out to be seven deuce, the worst two cards in poker and, incidentally, the same two numbers which summed up all of their impotent misery better than a thousand words: A paltry 0.27 expected goals in a 3-0 defeat is all they managed in the most important game of the domestic season.

Seeing the serial champions being outplayed on an occasion of such magnitude was barely believable. For 11 years running, they have always turned up when it matters against whoever was closest at the time, but their defeat at BayArena was reminiscent of the 5-2 hammering by Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund in the 2012 DFB-Pokal final, the year before their hegemony started.

In the league, you had to go back even further, to 2009’s 5-1 humiliation away to eventual champions Wolfsburg, to find a title bout this one-sided in their opponents’ favour.

The post-mortem predictably zoomed in on Tuchel’s surprise 3-4-3 formation, practised all week behind the grey curtains at the Sabener Strasse training ground.

The unfamiliar setup, deployed for the first time this season, was designed to mirror Leverkusen and was supposed to pit the right-footed Sacha Boey on the left to deal with the pacy Jeremie Frimpong.

Tuchel could not have known that Xabi Alonso would opt for a different system, too, moving away from his wing-back-reliant game to a hybrid four/five-at-the-back with the much more defensively-minded Bayern-loanee Josip Stanisic in Frimpong’s place.

Boey had not played on the “wrong side” in four years. And going out to negate their opponents’ strengths rather than ruthlessly exploit their weaknesses is not how things are traditionally done in Munich.

Boey, left, struggled with Stanisic throughout (Stefan Matzke – sampics/Corbis via Getty Images)

Tuchel nevertheless had a point when he insisted that putting it all down to the formation was “too polemical” a take. Bayern started well and controlled matters, for 10 minutes at least, before a series of mistakes and mishaps that had little to do with the system opened the door for the home side. But the complete lack of reaction after going a goal down to Stanisic in the 18th minute proved that this went a lot deeper than that.

“A team like ours should be able to adapt to a new system,” second-half substitute Joshua Kimmich claimed, quite rightly. Thomas Muller concurred, going on a loud, angry rant about players “lacking the balls” to play with the sort of freedom and guile they routinely showed in training.


Read More: Bayern Munich look lost – Thomas Tuchel’s team has too many individuals 2024-02-11 20:26:07

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