Based on the result, disappointment. Based on the performance, contentment. An exhausted Bayern was the weaker team in Sinsheim yet didn’t lose, no, they didn’t even concede a goal and thus keep the streak alive.
You know what’s first, the lineups. Franck Ribery started again while Arjen Robben didn’t, two things I, to be honest, didn’t expect. Anatoliy Tymoshchuk unsurprisingly started alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger, Rafinha had to be replaced by Jerome Boateng (with Holger Badstuber returning to the lineup as CB) due to muscle stiffness. Hoffenheim’s only slight surprise was that Daniel Williams was a part of the starting lineup. Holger Stanislawski’s system was visualized as a 4-3-3 by most but the offense was anything but static.
6 mostly brilliant matches in the last 3 weeks took their toll. You couldn’t miss the difference between the rested boys in blue and the drained players in
red white. Bayern tried to attack but didn’t seem capable of controlling the pace of the match so the team mostly had to rely on counter-attacks that couldn’t work either because fatigue affects speed and the ability to push forward to support the attacking teammate.
To be fair, exhaustion wasn’t the only reason. Hoffenheim was very aggressive in terms of pressing (demonstrated by Ryan Babel overly keen try to exert pressure on Manuel Neuer that resulted in a free kick for Bayern), they pretty much forced the guests to rely on fast attacks, the probably least ideal way to play for a weary team (as mentioned above).
The main question of the match: how did the hosts manage not to score a single goal? Rafinha’s injury all but forced Heynckes to use three rather slow defenders, a situation made for players like Chinedu Obasi, Roberto Firmino and Ryan Babel. They occasionally took advantage of this by going one on one but made nothing of that. While Manuel Neuer showed a couple of good saves, it was far from being a one-man show. Hoffenheim can’t be satisfied with the result, they often didn’t even seem to be aware of the opportunities that arose right in front of their faces.
A couple of thoughts on this FCB performance:
- Hoffenheim’s pressing made Anatoliy Tymoshchuk’s greatest disadvantage compared to Luiz Gustavo obvious: his passing abilities. While he’s great to stop counter-attacks and calm the game, the Ukrainian almost seems to panic when in possession under pressure.
- Thomas Müller as striker doesn’t work (yet). He’s the kind of player who receives the striker’s pass while moving towards the goal, not the one stopping a long ball and playing that pass.
- Even with Arjen Robben on the pitch (and Franck Ribery subbed off), Bayern still focused on the left flank. Some might say that was because Robben’s performance was subpar but I tend to disagree and claim the opposite: Robben’s performance was disappointing because the team preferred the other wing and left the Dutchman isolated, with trying to dribble past two or three opponents being the only option for him. I’m not saying that Robben was great, there are days when he goes past those opponents on a regular basis, but having to operate all by himself, without Mario Gomez (who, until the substitution, was a poor man starving for the ball today) as focal point up front, certainly didn’t help.
- Holger Badstuber’s calm presence was important. Under pressure multiple times, he never lost control and instead always managed to play a solid pass to an unmarked teammate. The roles of players become more and more offensive-minded. If someone like Manuel Neuer, who anticipates and plays accurate passes, who acts like a center back, is a “modern keeper”, there can’t be any doubt that Holger Badstuber, with the calmness and passing abilities of a deep-lying playmaker, is a modern center back.
1899 Hoffenheim: Dominik Kaiser (Williams, 69′), Knowledge Musona (Firmino, 73′), Sven Schipplock (Sigurdsson, 85′)
FC Bayern: Arjen Robben (Ribery, 46′), David Alaba (Gomez, 58′), Luiz Gustavo (van Buyten, 75′)
Other Bundesliga matches:
Lautern v Stuttgart 0-2 (Cacau, Boulahrouz)
Freiburg v Gladbach 1-0 (Flum)
Nürnberg v Mainz 3-3 (Feulner, Mak, Pekhart; Bungert, Choupo-Moting, Ivanschitz)
Leverkusen v Wolfsburg 3-1 (Castro, Derdiyok, Kießling; Mandzukic)
Dortmund v Augsburg 4-0 (Lewandowski x3, Götze)
Hertha v Köln 3-0 (Lasogga x2, Raffael)
Hannover v Bremen
Hamburg v Schalke
Next match: Saturday (Oct 15) v Hertha (Bundesliga), 3.30 pm