Bayern Munich: Issues persist despite win against RB Leipzig

Bayern Munich players celebrating win against RB Leipzig. (Photo by MICHAELA REHLE/AFP via Getty Images)
Bayern Munich players celebrating win against RB Leipzig. (Photo by MICHAELA REHLE/AFP via Getty Images) /

Humour the thought for a second. Picture a moment where Bayern Munich concede. One might drift towards a heart-wrenching moment or just one that recently holds onto memory. In many cases, the imagery might paint itself. Manuel Neuer raises his arm in appealing for offside, the defenders distraught, almost in disbelief of the mishap or sheer brilliance from the opposition. More importantly, it is momentous.

Bayern for decades has been an institution with a reign unmatched in the Bundesliga. This season seems to be no different. The Bavarians have established a firm stronghold over the top with a 9 point lead after the weekend’s results. A win against RB Leipzig perhaps deserves more reverence. Instead, the partisan crowd sighs in dread as another title race falls by the wayside. Bayern is once again – ‘too good’.

Yet what that notion does is mute a conversation that is clearly more nuanced. Bayern’s place amongst the European Elite is a more complicated discussion as one looks into the minutiae of their performances. The game against RB Leipzig was the frustrating albeit accurate concoction of the Bavarian dilemma.

The first half highlighted the frailties that come with Julian Nagelsmann 3-5-2. Whilst it offered a host of offensive options with Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane, and Kingsley Coman providing width and incision, it left a lot on the midfield of Joshua Kimmich and Corentin Tolisso to handle, more so with a back-three with Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez. Leipzig’s first goal was a testament to this problem. The defense continually lost the ball when pressed, allowing the likes of Christopher Nkunku and Dani Olmo to threaten on the break.

This wasn’t a rarity. Bayern has found themselves in similar situations all too often, a product of their style of play. Fortunately, the usual high-octane attack more than makes up for it. The Rekordmeister took advantage of a lackadaisical Leipzig who could not help but pass out from the back. The decision cost them twice in both halves with Thomas Muller and Gnabry as the scorers. Coman stood out as the driving force, constantly getting the better of Nordi Mukiele, even providing the assist for the header by Robert Lewandowski.

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The second goal conceded, however, was unusually simple. The image of a Bayern goal never accounted for the absolute mortal reflection of a juggernaut. Christopher Nkunku had all the time in the world to finish. The defense could only sigh and regroup, something they delivered aptly.

Bayern deserves all the praise for grinding out a win on a night where things didn’t quite go their way. After all, resilience forges the elite. Yet what is Bayern’s true ambitions? European glory would be the least surprising answer. On nights where the side doesn’t need to be at their brilliant best to beat league hopefuls, how often will their best surface when it’s necessary? With the Champions League around the corner, the questions will soon be self-evident.