It wasn’t beautiful but it counts. Bayern wins the match in Augsburg despite only playing well for 30 minutes. Manuel Neuer isn’t unemployed anymore, Project Alaba’s start wasn’t promising.
The lineups: Jupp Heynckes opted for Anatoliy Tymoshchuk instead of Luiz Gustavo and David Alaba as Schweinsteiger replacement. Two decisions that turned out to be not so great but more about that later. Jos Luhukay’s lineup, always a mystery (to be fair, also due to injuries), was a 4-1-4-1 with Hajime Hosogai as excellent midfield anchor and Paul Verhaegh, a right-back, as left-back (funnily, he played a lot better than teammate Dominik Reinhardt, the right-back who didn’t have to adapt to an unknown position. Or Thomas Müller played worse than Franck Ribery. Or Rafinha played worse than Philipp Lahm. Your decision.)
Surprisingly, it was Augsburg who started better. Bayern didn’t seem to be bent on scoring an early goal. Some surely hoped that this was only the beginning of a close match with a positive result for the hosts. These hopes were crushed after 15 minutes. A corner kick was headed on target by Daniel van Buyten, Mohamed Amsif’s save wasn’t good enough so, instead of clearing the ball, he put it right in front of Mario Gomez who even would’ve converted that ball while reading Leo Tolstoy. That was it, Bayern with the lead, the train started rolling.
When, a bit more than ten minutes later, Franck Ribery couldn’t be stopped by two defenders and delivered an accurate shot into the net, people started updating their standings. Only the goal differences weren’t certain yet.
Bayern missed the opportunity to score a third goal, though, which would’ve been the final nail in the coffin. Still, a two-goal lead despite kind of forgetting to play in the first quarter of an hour, nobody could complain.
What happened in the second half was as concerning as it was confusing. Control was lost without any reason, the well-known, for outsiders dead-boring no-nonsense passing accuracy with rare nearly unstoppable attacks simply didn’t exist. So it wasn’t a real surprise when Augsburg scored to make it an, at least on the scoreboard, exciting match again. A cross from the left flank couldn’t be headed but landed right in front of Hajime Hosogai whose shot was stopped by David Alaba. Unfortunately, that already happened behind the goal line.
Similar to the match against Napoli, it was now obvious that the other team from now on would refuse to give up. Still, Augsburg couldn’t create a lot of chances, most likely a result of the lack of abilities, but one was a massive chance. A through ball to Edmond Kapllani, who was left unmarked by van Buyten (don’t blame him, he had to move away from the attacker), was the big opportunity to equalize but Manuel Neuer showed a fantastic save with his right arm to deny the Albanian forward.
Augsburg tried but they were aware of the fact that they wasted their biggest chance. Bayern tried but still struggled to slow the match down, to regain control. A demonstration of the lost control was Anatoliy Tymoshchuk’s tackling against Daniel Baier. It can be discussed whether referee Felix Zwayer had to send him off for that or a simple booking would’ve been enough with only minutes remaining, but the Ukrainian never had to make that challenge deep inside the opponent’s half. Bayern still managed to win, 60 disappointing minutes weren’t enough to lose points.
To end the recap, a couple of words about the aforementioned central midfielders. Both disappointed for different reasons. Tymoshchuk, besides the red card, also created most of Augsburg’s scoring opportunities with unfocused work.
David Alaba on the other hand seemed to be way too excited to play. While running more than any other player on the pitch isn’t a bad thing by itself, it is this time because Alaba never knew when to stop and calm down, both himself and the match. After the match, I found myself using the words ‘calm presence’ quite a few times. It is what I expect from the playmaking central midfielder (to not call it the Schweinsteiger role) and it is what Alaba didn’t offer. Holding the ball for a few seconds to make an opponent move away from a teammate towards you just to play the unexpected pass to that exact teammate, that’s just one in my opinion for a central midfielder in Bayern’s system very important thing he was missing. Alaba always moved when he received the ball, that very much reminded me of Danijel Pranjic who does this as well (but maybe at least could’ve used his experience to control the pace). It is way too early to say that the Project Alaba failed, perhaps it was just nervousness, but the first impression wasn’t a positive one. I said it in the preview, in my opinion there’s only one proper Schweinsteiger replacement, and that’s Toni Kroos. While I understand that Heynckes wants to avoid messing around with the offense, I think that this is a risk that has to be taken in order to regain control in midfield. We saw it against Napoli, we saw it against Augsburg – a Bayern team without a calm presence in central midfield is a nervous bunch.
- 0-1 Gomez (16′)
- 0-2 Ribery (28′)
- 1-2 Hosogai (59′)
- FC Augsburg:
- Akaki Gogia (Brinkmann, 59′)
- Edmond Kapllani (Mölders, 75′)
- Nando Rafael (Davids, 80′)
- FC Bayern:
- Luiz Gustavo (Rafinha, 68′)
- Diego Contento (Kroos, 89′)
- Danijel Pranjic (Ribery, 90′)
Team stats (Augsburg-Bayern):
- Ball possession: 39% – 61%
- Shots taken: 10 – 14
- Passes completed (in %): 284 – 569 (79% – 91%)
- Corner kicks: 1 – 3
- Tackles won: 48% – 52%
- Fouls committed: 16 – 14
- Distance covered: 116,2 – 111,4
Leading player stats (Augsburg-Bayern):
- Touches: Hajime Hosogai (72) – Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (97)
- Shots taken: Baier/Werner/Mölders (2 each) – Mario Gomez (4)
- Passes completed: Hajime Hosogai (51) – Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (70)
- Crosses attempted: Baier/Werner (2 each) – Thomas Müller (3)
- Tackles won: Sebastian Langkamp (18) – Badstuber/van Buyten (15 each)
- Tackles won in %: Langkamp/Hosogai (64% each) – Holger Badstuber (75%)
- Distance covered: Hajime Hosogai (11,7) – David Alaba (12,1)
- Fastest sprint in km/h: Tobias Werner (32,7) – Mario Gomez (32,5)
Other Bundesliga matches:
- Mainz v Stuttgart 3-1 (Ujah x2, Ivanschitz; Cacau)
- Dortmund v Wolfsburg 5-1 (Götze x2, Kagawa, Bender, Lewandowski; Hleb)
- Bremen v Köln 3-2 (Pizarro x3; Clemens, Podolski)
- Nürnberg v Freiburg 1-2 (Frantz; Rosenthal, Cisse)
- Hoffenheim v Lautern 1-1 (Ibisevic; Kouemaha)
- Hertha v Gladbach 1-2 (Ramos; Reus x2)
- Leverkusen v Hamburg 2-2 (Schürrle, Bender; Westermann, Jansen)
- Hannover v Schalke 2-2 (Papadopoulos OG, Abdellaoue; Pukki x2)
Next match: Saturday (November 19) v Dortmund (Bundesliga), 6.30 pm