Following a hard-fought 3-1 victory at Mainz over the weekend, Bayern Munich travelled to Turkey on Tuesday for a key Champions League clash with a dangerous Galatasaray side.
Both teams lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. With Leon Goretzka being ruled out of the trip to Galatasaray due to a hand fracture suffered against Mainz, coach Thomas Tuchel was forced to make one change to the starting XI. Noussair Mazraoui returned to the starting lineup in the right-back position, which allowed Konrad Laimer to replace Leon Goretzka in midfield.
Shifting between a glass-half-full and a glass-half-empty perspective let us take a look at the key tactical events and takeaways from Bayern’s laborious 3-1 victory away at Galatasaray.
Bayern overwhelmed by Galatasaray from the word go
With the exception of the goal scored, for the first time in what seems like forever, Bayern were completely dominated during the first half in all key statistical areas. Galatasaray dominated in terms of possession (58%: 42%); total shots (6 to 3); shots on target (4 to 2); pass completion (243 to 187); and pass accuracy (83% to 81%). (Stats Courtesy: Fotmob)
Die Roten got the match underway but within a minute the host team seized possession of the ball and won a free kick. That passage of play set the tone for the first half. In the fourth minute, Galatasaray’s Mauro Icardi had a good chance to score. Three minutes later, Sven Ulreich denied Kerem Akturkoglu who unleashed a right-footed shot from the right side of the box. A better purchase on the shot may have made it 1-nil to the hosts.
Bayern scored the opening goal against the run of play with a devastating counter-attack
Although both teams lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Die Roten’s central midfield duo of Kimmich and Laimer struggled to shield the back-four as the hosts dictated play in the midfield. Galatasaray’s wide players were also well supported by the full-backs to create problems for Bayern. At times during the first half, the Turkish side played attractive football to trouble the visitors.
It took a moment of combined brilliance in the eighth minute from the twinkle-toed trio of Jamal Musiala, Leroy Sane, and Kingsley Coman to score the opener for Die Roten against the run of play.
Musiala deceptively turned his marker in the middle of the park; set off on a run then released Sane down the left flank. Harry Kane made a run on the outside of Sane to stretch the defense and create space for the German forward. Sane moved centrally and found Coman with an inch-perfect pass. The Frenchman made no mistake as his right-footed shot gave the visitors the opening goal. Despite being on the ropes, Bayern reminded viewers that arguably the best-attacking quartet in Europe resides in Munich.
Unfortunately for Bayern, that goal was the only reason to smile during the first half. Kerem Akturkoglu drew a brilliant save from Ulreich who turned the shot behind for a corner in the ninth minute.
The Turks kept faith in themselves and again threatened to score with numerous attempts before Icardi equalised from the penalty spot in the 30th minute. There was some doubt regarding the validity of the penalty call. After the VAR review, it was deemed valid. The rash challenge from Joshua Kimmich to concede the penalty summed up Bayern’s performance. They were sloppy on the ball, which allowed Galatasaray to dominate possession and territory.
Bayern got better in the second half and eventually delivered the knockout blow
Bayern started the second half as they ended the first one. Galatasaray looked to score the crucial second goal by putting more pressure on Die Roten’s defense. The back four defended well and helped the visitors to weather the storm.
In the 74th minute, following good work down the right flank, Mazraoui picked out Musiala in the box. The German midfielder squared the ball to Harry Kane in the front of the goal. After having the first shot blocked by the defender, Kane pounced on the rebound to put Die Roten back in the lead. With Laimer having to fill in for Goretzka in midfield, it was good to see the Moroccan right-back contributing to the attack as well as defending.
The Bavarians were second best for 70-odd minutes, but after Kane scored their second goal, they took control of the game. Konrad Laimer had been providing the legs in midfield without being able to wrestle control from the Turks. The Austrian midfielder played a crucial role in the third goal as he played the decisive pass to Kane near the box. The English striker picked out Jamal Musiala in the box, who showed great composure to slot the ball past the goalkeeper and put the game beyond Galatasaray. Bayern soaked up all the pressure in the first 25 minutes of the second half to deliver the knockout blows in the last 20 minutes of the game.
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A game of two contrasting halves
It was a game of two contrasting halves. Despite scoring first, Bayern delivered an awful first-half performance. Fans would have to look far and wide to find a more disappointing half. Key saves from Sven Ulreich and poor finishing from the hosts helped Die Roten to remain level at half-time.
In the second half, the quality of Bayern’s attack made the difference. Kane and Musiala combined for the second and third goals, while Bayern’s defence was able to do just enough to keep the Turks at bay.
Considering the injury problems Bayern are dealing with right now, leaving Turkey with a 3-1 victory against a team that was unbeaten in 23 previous matches across all competitions was quite the achievement.
With the exception of the opening goal, the Bavarian faithful would be hoping to never again see such a first-half performance.