Although Bayern’s first half was worrying, their energetic younger players paired with strong leadership dominated the second.
Bayern did have much rotation this evening – they haven’t slowed down after sealing the league title. Robbéry and Lewandowski were the biggest names to start on the bench but it was a pretty strong team. During the Pep Guardiola era (and to an extent even the Ancelotti era), Bayern had considerably slowed down after they had successfully sealed the Bundesliga. Under Jupp Heynckes, there is no room for slowing down.
Today, they played a conservative, careful, poised game to start with and then amped it up. Their performance has not changed dramatically from all guns blazing to a limp fish; rather, there is a gradual strategy to the way the team approaches the entire season.
As they got into the game, the goals began to pour. Bayern pushed Borussia Mönchengladbach uncomfortably back, exploiting their defensive gaps.
Alaba is sensational
It has definitely been said before but it need to be said again; David Alaba is freaking sensational. This evening, he displayed all-star qualities. Alaba is versatile, he was channelling Ribéry today, racing high up the pitch down the left flank in order to help create goalscoring chances. Then, his magic moment came from a curl (right foot, his weak foot!) 67’ minutes in where he fired the ball in from a tight angle.
He got a tackle in as well and was hugely influential in attack – an absolute all-rounder. 👏
Young blood impressive
Bayern’s younger talent was exceptionally impressive today. Even Juan Bernat was not as blunderous as he has been in the last few games. Joshua Kimmich was all over the pitch, getting 105 touches in the entire game. He was defensively aware and pushed the game forward to, playing various different roles throughout the evening.
Thiago Alcântara’s fancy footwork was fabulous too. In fact, Sebastian Rudy was showing bright moments as well – he even got a shot on target in the second half.
In Lewandowski’s absence, Sandro Wagner got his name on the scoresheet (twice) too. The newcomer did take a bit of time to show his clinical-ness, but after that first goal he seemed to gain confidence and capitalised on chances set up by his teammates – including a backwards header.
Bayern should have absolutely no reason to stress about their future with these guys in their arsenal.
Defensive question marks
One issue was Bayern’s defence. It was tested, especially in the first half and was pushed quite far back. There were moments when questions arose – Gladbach’s attackers were speeding down the pitch and the defence was not quite fast and prepared enough to stop the threats.
Niklas Süle was too slow to stop the opener which was a bit frustrating. In the second half, he seemed to release this though and he was much more impressive and pacy. While Mats Hummels did show leadership at the back, they do seem to struggle against fast counter-attacking teams and this can land them in sticky situations.
Gladbach gave Bayern a very challenging time in the first half especially. Their defence played quite deep and their attack was sharp and clinical. They were unwound and tired out by Bayern throughout the game though and by the middle of the second half, they were completely out of it. This is a testament to Bayern’s tactical approach and ability to adapt to the game as needed. As the home side amped it up, they unwound a difficult Gladbach side with some top attacking players.