Not too bad, eh? FC Bayern have returned to form with a mostly dominant and convincing 5:2 win against Eintracht Frankfurt that righted the wrong in many ways.
Working as a unit
It’s no secret that when the same matchup happened in the early season, the Bavarians were not playing as a team. Saturday’s match was different.
The Frankfurt heavy pressing in the early minutes met structure and calm defending in the Bayern end. A compact and aggressive Eagles formation tried to delay the action with two defensive lines at the back, but that was not enough to prevent “possession with purpose” from drilling holes and creating chances.
Kevin Trapp was a bit lucky since he mostly faced shots that went straight to him, in the middle, in the early first half. The Reds’ cohesion was strong, a solid indication that Hansi Flick corrected the lack of purpose found in the return match against Union Berlin a week ago.
Flick didn’t only right the ship in one week. He is demonstrating, despite a coronavirus pandemic that halted the season, how he appears to be the right conductor for the Bavarian orchestra.
This matters, y’all. Remember the whining from Bayern “fans” who once pretended that no one but Pep Guardiola (or Jupp Heynckes when he was ‘subbed in’) could bring this team to the battlefield. Oh, how wrong they were. His football is solid and effective, and he makes adjustments after a lacklustre game to avoid a loss of momentum.
It goes without saying that the Bavarian defense was caught napping to concede two consecutive goals in the first 15 minutes of the second half. Marking was forgotten, which is dangerous in top-flight football. Nevertheless, the team sharpened up once again after 56 minutes.
The two Perišićs
Ivan Perišić showed two different faces on Saturday. In the early going, he proved to be a force with solid passes and great timing to provide Joshua Kimmich a fine target before getting past the offside trap. Then, he got too selfish to pass the ball to his mates, before going largely quiet and ceding control of the attacking midfield to Thomas Müller.
While more consistency would be welcome, Perišić remains a smart signing. He is no superstar, but he can deputise effectively on the wings.
Müller himself had a solid match, a far cry from the “Müller is finished” that many Bayern “fans” shouted prior to Flick’s selection as interim-then-permanent head coach.
The wonder kid
Once again, Alphonso Davies’ prowess is remarkable. Not only can he go through two lines by himself or overload the left flank before crossing. His acceleration can turn a loose, or lost, ball into regained possession as he did in the Frankfurt end in the 33rd minute.
The same goes for his calm and accuracy when crossing from behind to find Thomas Müller on the second goal. And his ability to slice through the Frankfurt defence, draw Trapp out of his net and make the netting move with the fourth goal. You have to be a mature player to deliver the way he does it, independently of your age.
I cannot say the same at the moment about Kingsley Coman, who has plenty of intention, but is missing the spark and effectiveness of old. He has the talent, but he needs to find the form.
No home advantage
The Guardian recently reported that based on the first matchday since returning, the Bundesliga had no home advantage with the referees.
That became even more obvious in the first 10 minutes of this match. Two fouls that were previously obvious were left without a call. Even my Sky Deutschland announcer expressed surprise. Perhaps it shouldn’t be so astonishing until crowds return to stadiums. Without their noise and protest, officials have no reason to feel pressure to make decisions favourable to the hosts of a game.
This developing reality could be important for FC Bayern, which tend to do well when playing at home. It should be factored in match planning, with less play-acting to draw the calls and more focus on the flow of the game as well as the position of the ball. It’s important since quitting playing for a moment can give the opposition time to move decisively. In the worst case, it can cost a goal.
However, how far should the officials take this logic? Robert Lewandowski absorbed a questionable punch in the face given by Martin Hinteregger in the first half. He may have been lucky to get away with it with a yellow card. Where is Iron Mike Tyson when you need him?