Bayern Munich beat Anderlecht 2:1, but they did so with an uncoordinated performance with a rotated squad and formation.
Rotation, rotation, rotation
Jupp Heynckes decided to go for a rotated lineup and formation. He decided to give some of the youngsters a chance. While the performance certainly was not an impressive one, it was a learning experience.
Sebastian Rudy dipped back as a lone defensive-midfielder. I think a two-person defensive midfield pairing is always a far better idea for this Bayern side – they just seem a lot more effective and comfortable. They looked to be the opposite this time. The defence was slacking, the midfield was crowded and the attack was inefficient for the most part.
The game was heavily concentrated in the midfield but in a stuck-in-quicksand sort of way if that makes sense. There was little efficiency and Anderlecht looked the better side in the first half.
Bayern did seem to be struggling tonight against an Anderlecht side that were playing a physical game, making all the right tackles in all the right places. Bayern’s players looked to be unable to communicate with one another effectively.
Their communication seemed to get better in the second half though. The second half saw Arjen Robben hobble off injured and Javi Martínez come on to replace him. This seemed to make things better in some ways as he brought a bit more order to the midfield and the team looked a little more together.
James threaded the ball forward through to Corentin Tolisso who passed it to a waiting Robert Lewandowski to finish it neatly into the back of the net to get Bayern their opener (51’) just moments later.
Oh defence, where art thou?
Niklas Süle was slow but he was trying to keep close and mark Anderlecht’s attackers. He was unable to stop them on numerous occasions, though. As a result, Anderlecht had many opportunities to push forward and get shots on target.
Marco Friedl was especially quiet. Jérôme Boateng did manage to stop a few attempts but did not look too strong. Mats Hummels came on in the final five minutes but even he seemed a unable to thwart Anderlecht’s attackers.
In fact, even Joshua Kimmich seemed a bit quieter than his usual self. He did play quite high up and this worked to his favour as he passed the ball forward to Lewandowski, who almost managed to make it 2:1 in the second half – but alas, nothing came of it. About 10 minutes later though, Kimmich again proved that even in a bad game, he’s bloody good. He pushed through the pool of defenders and crossed the ball to Tolisso who headed It through to make it 2:1.
Luckily, Sven Ulreich was totally in form tonight and was blocking (nearly) all attempts. He had a solid night. Neuer’s long spell on the sidelines has proven that Ulreich can step up to the plate in a big way. He made some key saves – but he is not a sweeper keeper like Neuer and Bayern do often tend to need a goalkeeper who can act as a defender.
Often Bayern’s defence tends to slack and Neuer would tend to pick up that slack. It’s true, we have become spoilt by Neuer because Ulreich has done quite well and proved that tonight. Without Ulreich’s sharpness, Bayern would have most certainly lost.