Bayern Munich: Tactical takeaway from 2-1 win against Monchengladbach

Bayern Munich celebrating with fans after defeating Borussia Monchengladbach. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Bayern Munich celebrating with fans after defeating Borussia Monchengladbach. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images) /

Bayern Munich finally came away with a victory against Borussia Monchengladbach for the first time in six encounters between the two clubs.  Despite a poor start to the season, Monchengladbach was close to getting something from the game after settling into a 4-5-1 formation. Die Roten’s 2-1 victory was hard-fought, to say the least.

The defending champions started out with its customary 4-2-3-1 formation. The only personnel change from the previous game was that of Thomas Muller starting in the number ten position, while Jamal Musiala continued his recovery from a hamstring injury. Serge Gnabry made way for Muller in the starting lineup, while Sane played on the right flank.

Bayern pressed well in first half, but looked vulnerable on setpieces

Bayern wasted no time setting the tone of the game by pressing high from the onset and, for the most part, keeping the game in the attacking third with the hosts content to play on the counter-attack.

In as early as the third minute Goretzka did well to get a header on target from a corner but his attempt was straight at the Gladbach keeper who held comfortably. Muller was busy making runs in the channels and tried to link play with Sane and Kane whenever possible, but it was from a header in the 11th minute, following a quickly taken free kick, that he got a chance to score. Unfortunately, for Muller and Bayern, his header was also straight at the goalkeeper.

In the 25th minute, the hosts sounded a warning as center-back Marvin Friedrich rose well to get on the end of a free-kick from the left. His powerful header eluded Sven Ulreich but fortunately for Bayern, it bounced off the top of the crossbar and out of play.

Five minutes later, from a right-sided corner that was flicked on, Gladbach’s other centre-back, Japanese international, Kou Itakura, ghosted around at the far post to loop a header back across Ulreich to open the scoring for the Foals.

In the 39th minute, Leroy Sane was denied the equaliser as his right-footed shot from inside the box hit the crossbar after the keeper got the slightest of touches to the ball.

The Bavarians continued to look for the equaliser before the break, but the first half ended with questions being asked with regard to their defending against set pieces. Including the DFL-Super Cup, three of the five goals that Bayern have conceded this season have come from set pieces.

Clever substitutes from Thomas Tuchel changed the game

To begin the second half coach Thomas Tuchel replaced Noussair Mazraoui with Konrad Laimer at right back. Mazraoui, who had been booked in the first half, wasn’t having a good game despite getting up and down the right flank.

Laimer’s introduction brought increased physicality and activity to Bayern’s game. When he wasn’t battling for the ball, he was driving forward at pace with it or providing an outlet. His presence was felt in defence and attack and that seemed to inspire his teammates, in particular, Joshua Kimmich and Leroy Sane as he effectively provided them both with support on the right side.

With the Gladbach defence starting to wilt under the increased pressure down the right-hand side it wasn’t long before Kimmich and Sane combined for the equaliser. In the 58th minute, Sane collected Kimmich’s chipped pass on his chest to score with his left foot from the right side of the six-yard box.

Tuchel sensing that the game was now there for the taking made three more substitutions before the end. In the 69th minute, Gnabry and Choupo-Moting replaced Coman and Muller, respectively. Courtesy of a Konrad Laimer cross, Gnabry almost scored the crucial second goal with a header.

The fourth substitution of the half proved crucial. Goretzka wasn’t having a bad game, but he was sacrificed for 18-year-old forward Mathys Tel as Bayern was chasing a win. The youngster duly delivered the winning goal with a header courtesy of a Joshua Kimmich corner in the 87th minute.

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To Tuchel’s credit, a Choupo-Moting header, from a Gnabry cross, would have made it three for Bayern in the 93rd minute had it not been for an excellent save from Moritz Nicolas. Matthijs de Ligt replaced Kane, as the final substitute, during stoppage time to shore up the defence.

A terrific comeback from the Bavarian side, and one of the few times that a right-back substitute could arguably be deemed Man of the Match. Who would ever have expected such a performance from Der Konrad Laimer, Bayern Munich’s Austrian version of the ‘Swiss Army Knife’?