stats analysis

Bayern’s midfield delivers, but the attacking falls short

Bayern failed to take three points at the Allianz Arena against Hoffenheim. Despite putting in a decent performance, die Roten fell short in some areas.

Okay, so Bayern fell short and drew against Julian Nagelsmann’s surprise Achtzehn. Mind you, Hoffenheim came into the game undefeated. They boast a solid tactical disposition, and results to show for it. It was not supposed to be an easy game.

Still, the numbers show that the game was not as bad as some people think. Statistics never reflect the full picture of a football match, but they can offer pretty good approximation. So, let us delve into them.

Solid midfield

Bayern’s midfield trio had a good day at the office. Each of Xabi Alonso, Thiago Alcântara and Arturo Vidal performed according to their skillset. They faced a secondary pressure from Hoffenheim’s own midfield, although Nagelsmann placed more workload on high pressure.

Thiago: good as always

It has surprised me to see that Thiago Alcântara’s impact with Bayern is more noticeable under Carlo Ancelotti than it was with Pep Guardiola. The Italian manager has made Thiago his midfield maestro.

The Spanish international contributes more and more in defence lately. Today’s game saw Thiago act as a clog against potential Hoffenheim counterattacks. That is not to say he single-handedly eliminated such threat, but he did do a lot of good.


Number 6 made three interceptions and as many tackles. The important bit is that he made them in crucial midfield areas. This sometimes enabled the team to start attacking moves from there.

As always, Thiago excelled in passing. 80 of 90 attempts reached their destination, for a 88% success rate. This certainly is not his best, but anything over 80% is remarkable. We are just spoiled.

Vidal and Alonso: toughness and class

Admittedly, this is not news to anyone. Alonso is good at distributing the ball. Vidal likes to play more physically, with a different kind of quality.

Indeed, Xabi did a good job of taking the ball forward. A lot of Bayern fans seem to dismiss Alonso as a slow player way past his prime. However, it is easy to take for granted the fact that few players in the world make such good decisions on the ball with such consistency.


Alonso put in a full shift today. In fact, he added a bonus in the form of a couple of interceptions and tackles. He even won the odd aerial duel in the middle third!

Another noteworthy bit was the amount of fouls he suffered. Hoffenheim brought Alonso down six times.

Vidal’s display was not as outstanding as in other occasions. Still, he provided the muscle necessary to offset Hoffenheim’s brave pressure to an extent.


Attacking trouble

For all the solidity Bayern’s midfield displayed, the attack was rather lacking.

See, I thought that with Nagelsmann’s high pressure and coverage of receptors, it would be the midfield that would find itself in trouble. This stuff is what goes into tactical analyses and I will not go too deep into it. However, it was clear that Hoffenheim balanced pressure and retreating remarkably well. That is extraordinary. Today, it meant that Bayern’s attacking trio had a rough day. Robert Lewandowski, Arjen Robben and Douglas Costa were made to be uncomfortable and inefficient.

Take, for instance, Lewandowski’s dashboard.


A bit sad, really. Lewandowski was cut off. He trailed back to avoid being trapped between and behind Hoffenheim lines. Alas, that did not work either. As you can see, he did not have a single successful action inside the box.

Robben and Costa offered a bit more. Still, it was nothing to go crazy about.

Look at all those red arrows!

Costa’s adventures around the box were somewhat satisfactory. He made right decisions. He produced a couple of take ons and created a few chances (light blue arrows). However, when he tried to put the ball inside the box or go in there himself, there was not much success.

Robben suffered the same fate. A lone take on was the Dutchman’s only successful adventure in the box.


A word on Ancelotti’s progress

Bayern are not playing the greatest football at the moment. There is no denying that. While that is true, the numbers also shed some light as to how Bayern are faring thus far:

The team have played a total of 17 games:

  • 13 wins;
  • 3 draws;
  • A single defeat;
  • 82.4% success rate;
  • 45 goals scored;
  • 10 conceded.

Enough said.

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