Bayern Munich showcase mastery over little things in win against Hoffenheim

Bayern Munich players celebrating during 4-0 win against Hoffenheim on Saturday. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
Bayern Munich players celebrating during 4-0 win against Hoffenheim on Saturday. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images) /

It wasn’t the best night for the Bavarians. Individual errors, misread plays, a touch of self-regarding, leaving enough on the proverbial plate to raise questions.

With that being said, Bayern ran away as comfortable winners against Hoffenheim; akin to their seemingly comfortable win against Benfica. Bayern Munich at its finest, unstoppable, unequivocally superior.

Hold that thought before the sense of nihilistic dread and cynicism rises within. The results aren’t as binary as they seem.

The commonality between the result on the weekend and the game in Lisbon, to varying degrees, was a working blueprint, one that countered Bayern’s well-established identity. You can’t simply decimate Bayern. You can, however, lull them off their rhythm. You either sneak past a sleeping Giant, or you strike first and hope.

Benfica adopted the latter, disrupting Bayern’s build-up play by any means necessary. Nicolas Otamendi shackled Robert Lewandowski, an overall frustrating night for the side. Yet, Leroy Sane’s brilliance shone and a cagey affair devolved into a rout in a flash.

For Hoffenheim, their efforts to soothe a side hungry to devour fell apart early on. A scrumptious strike from revitalized Serge Gnabry handed Bayern the lead in 16 minutes with a spectacular strike from the Polish talisman put doubled their advantage before halftime. Yet in spells, Bayern looked shaky, unaware.. asleep. A two-goal advantage is hardly insurmountable and with chances piling up for Hoffenheim, there was a hint of uncertainty in the Allianz Arena.

Yet the harsh commonality between the two results is despite the mistakes that arose from their oddly similar blueprints, neither were able to capitalize. Benfica posed more of a threat on offense with Diogo Goncalves testing Manuel Neuer with a curling effort. Neither team, however, could make their advantage tangible, which begs the question – why not?

Although Bayern boasts an obvious advantage going into almost any game, they have mastered the minute details. Gnabry’s goal will highlight his performance, almost undermining his defensive efforts with crucial interceptions and being a key piece in the way Bayern has established a tranquil way of playing out from the back. Dayot Upamecano and Benjamin Pavard worked fluidly in tandem while Joshua Kimmich and Marcel Sanitizer dropped into crucial half-spaces to initiate the attacking moves and allow the flamboyant front line to flourish. Jamal Musiala and Thomas Müller multiply in their gravity due to their incisivity, opening space for Serge Gnabry and in turn, Robert Lewandowski.

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The second goal was a product of superb defensive effort from Pavard and Gnabry and the eventual awareness of Müller to simultaneously contain Chris Richards and find Lewandowski. The final two goals acted as the white flag. Bayern had once again, overcome the blueprint, dominance was never necessary. Their fluency on the pitch is a sign of chemistry, a mutual desire to be the best.

If Bayern has proved anything under Julian Nagelsmann, it’s that being the best has nothing and everything to do with the little things.