thoughts

Indecisive Bayern’s season hanging by a thread

Bayern Munich traveled to Bayer Leverkusen, but… did they really? The teams drew 0:0 in a disappointing display for the away side, considering Bayern were up a man for the majority of the second half.

A trip to Estadio Bernabeu looms on Tuesday, but there are serious questions ahead of that Champions League quarterfinal knockout tie.

Ponderous XI and subs

Where Madrid’s trainer Zinédine Zidane rested pretty much everyone he could in their 2:3 victory at Sporting Gijon, his counterpart, Carlo Ancelotti, saw fit to start the most crucial stars in his midfield: Thiago Alcantara and Arturo Vidal. Xabi Alonso would strangely spend the majority of the match on the bench.

While this was a match that Bayern could afford to lose, Ancelotti’s approach seems a bit off. That’s being kind– it was horrible. Despite Carleto’s insistence that the match at BayArena was a must win. It wasn’t. And it showed in his Startelf.

He seemed incapable of deciding whether the match was important enough, or not, strictly at whim– starting his midfield, but resting Philipp Lahm, Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben. That is until the second half, being a man up, and throwing in Lahm and Robben to try to unlock Leverkusen’s excellent defense.

Ten man clinic

Leverkusen’s trainer Tayfun Korkut took Ancelotti back to school in an absolute clinic on how to play a second half with ten men. Where Bayern just survived the first Madrid tie due to the absolute brilliance of Manuel Neuer after Javi Martínez was sent off, here Korkut’s men were focused and resolute. Centre-back Omer Toprak and ‘keeper Bernd Leno were especially notable– not only before Tin Jedvaj’s departure, but after as well.

The Müller question

After the match, the “center forward” would tell the assembled press that Bayern had a good match but didn’t finish well. And to that I say: this means you did not, in fact, have a good match.

Poor Thomas. On top of an underwhelming season, he is a Raumdeuter being forced in to a centre-forward role. This blame can be spread around from the board (“Robert Lewandowski never gets hurt”), through Müller’s form, to Ancelotti’s failure to come up with a Plan B. Well, I suppose he does have a Plan B– if B stands for Bob.

So, what happens next?

All is not lost– yet. Despite shoddy displays against Madrid and Leverkusen, Ancelotti has his ace-in-the-hole– possibly his saving grace– in the form of Lewandowski. Mats Hummels’ return is also a very big deal, but make no mistake about it– Tuesday’s match relies on Bob’s brilliance. PUNKT.

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