Munich Bundesliga fluctuations this season are so frequent and wild that they can’t ignored
Julian Nagelsmann likely had many different visions for this point of the season when he returned to work after the World Cup. However, this is not what he imagined. His squad will being April with more fixtures than usual, due to the international break in Qatar, although they enter that period sitting in an unfamiliar second place. Bayern Munich didn’t completely lose their edge in Leverkusen, however a misconception that it’s business as usual for them has been dispelled.
This match was full of remarkable moments;
Leverkusen displaying more nerve than their guests to gain a 2-1 victory, the home side’s Amine Adli twice receiving simulation cautions from Tobias Stieler only for the referee to consult video evidence both times, retracting his decision with a smile and an embrace before awarding a pair of penalties – successfully converted by Exequiel Palacios and directed towards Yann Sommer’s right each time. This proved sufficient to lead Die Werkself back from behind and take them over the line.
Performance during their match has caused them to be subject to review. Sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić was appalled by the team’s passivity, their lack of passion and will, which he asserted is not typical of Bayern. Just before their opponent’s winning goal, young star Jamal Musiala almost secured a lead for Bayern with a nimble scene down the flank. Moreover, as if things weren’t bad enough already, on Monday morning it came out that Musiala had pulled out of the Germany squad due to a thigh injury right before important games such as the Klassiker against Dortmund and the Champions League Quarter Final versus Manchester City Munich.
At the half, Bayern found themselves ahead due to a lucky deflection. Despite their good fortune, Leverkusen had been in control for much of the period before. The second half saw Xabi Alonso’s team come out with renewed energy and enthusiasm for the win – and they got it, having earned it against a side that let the half unfold without them. Any outsider looking at both conceded penalties may not have seen why Stieler needed to take a second look, but Benjamin Pavard and Dayot Upamecano’s challenges had been wild and uncontrolled enough to show a lack of composure on Leverkusen’s part.
It may have required a crucial double save from the erratic Hradecky late in the game to keep Leroy Sané and Alphonso Davies out of the net, but Leverkusen had earned this victory. They were simply superior, and moreover, commanded the pivotal moments of the match better. Some have drawn parallels between Alonso’s situation and Steven Gerrard’s time at Aston Villa. As he trained for a while before taking his rightful place at Bayern Munich’s helm (a perspective unarguably supported by their leading figures). The eventual outcome differs significantly in this case Munich.
The results of Alonso’s fledgling managerial career have been extremely positive. Especially given he took over a side battling the drop that was (at least on paper) not particularly well prepared for the challenge. As far as Alonso’s communication skills are concerned. Getting his ideas across to the players quickly and clearly has been the key Munich.
Leverkusen have been able to benefit from the shrewd management of Peter Bosz. Make use of the speed of Jeremie Frimpong and Moussa Diaby out wide. Their defence has also grown more reliable under Alonso’s guidance. Especially with Robert Andrich providing a key presence in the heart of their defence. This was particularly evident when they travelled to Hungary in midweek to reach the Europa League quarter-finals Munich.
We have come to expect clarity from Nagelsmann. As evidenced by his statement that “maximum hunger and passion” plus quality will be enough to achieve success. Even though he is a man of insight and intelligence. It would be unsurprising if Bayern came out against Dortmund determined to win. Considering we’re so familiar with this routine already. The Bayern narrative of action and reaction has been around for years prior to Nagelsmann’s arrival, which begs the question. How much progress has been made under their acclaimed coach?
The fluctuations in Bayern this season are so frequent and so wild that they must invite scrutiny. They may respond against Dortmund, but it seems unlikely to be definitive Munich.