Monday, June 17, 2024

FC Koln 1-2 Bayern Munich: Talking points as Bavarians defend Bundesliga title in shocking fashion

Veselin Trajkovic in Bundesliga, Editorial 28 May 2023

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Bayern Munich have won the Bundesliga title for the 11th consecutive season. Going into the final round, they had to beat FC Koln in Cologne and hope for a Borussia Dortmund slip-up against Mainz 05 at the Signal Iduna Park, and though it seemed unlikely to happen, both conditions were fulfilled on Saturday afternoon, as Bayern emerged victorious at the RheinEnergieStadion, while Dortmund barely scraped a 2-2 draw after trailing 0-2.

These results have put Bayern and Dortmund level on points, but the title is Bayern’s due to their superior goal-difference.

It was Kingley Coman who broke the deadlock for the Bavarians in the eighth minute, and Dejan Ljubicic equalized from the spot in the 81st. And just as it seemed the title would slip away, up stepped substitute Jamal Musiala to bag an 89th minute winner with a pin-point low effort from outside the box.

The game

Bayern head coach Thomas Tuchel started with Serge Gnabry as the main attacking focal point, choosing to leave Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, the only designated striker in his squad, on the bench. It didn’t work too well for a large part of the game, as Tuchel’s men presented very little threat to goalkeeper Marvin Schwabe apart from the situations when the goals were scored and two good chances that went to waste. The latter were the work of Thomas Muller, who saw his header hit the post, and Leroy Sane, who had his effort from a one-on-one situation stopped by the Koln goalkeeper just before Musiala scored the winning goal.

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It should, on the other hand, be said that Koln offered even less attacking threat. The penalty was given to them for an extremely unwise move by Gnabry who raised his arm to block a cross and, to his dismay, realized too late he was inside his own box. Davie Selke had a good chance too, but his header was brilliantly saved by Yann Sommer.

Apart from those situations, both teams spent the majority of time when the ball was in their possession building out from the back and eventually circling the opposition box, without any creative ideas on how to break through the defensive ranks.

As the two teams alternated in showing initiative, the subjective feeling was that Koln had more of the ball, though in truth it was the other way around – it was Bayern who had more (54%), but that feeling only goes to show how unimaginative they were for a large part of the contest.

Bayern’s Bundesliga domination continues

As has been said, it’s been 11 years since any team other than Bayern won the Bundesliga title. The last to do it was Borussia Dortmund under Jurgen Klopp, twice in a row, in 2011 and 2012. Much has been said about the lack of proper competition in the German top flight, and Bayern triumphing again will do little to silence the criticism.

The fact that the Bavarians have been far from impressive throughout the campaign and still kept their crown is even more damning, and questions about what the others are doing wrong must be asked. As some have already said, Bayern can’t even give the title away. They changed the head coach in mid-season, they were comprehensively beaten by Manchester City in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, and yet, no team in the Bundesliga can edge them out.

On the other hand, it’s also worrying that similar trends are being established in other leagues as well.

More changes afoot at Bayern

Immediately after the match, having just won the title, Bayern confirmed the decision of the supervisory board to sack CEO Oliver Kahn and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic. It seems they’ve changed their usual approach of stopping the rot with the head coach and went higher in the hierarchy this time.

Will it prove to have been the right decision? Only time will tell.

For their part, Kahn and Salihamidzic, both in the service of the club for a long time, will feel it to have been made unjustly, having just won the title. And yet, it seems that isn’t enough anymore.

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Presumably, what is needed is for Bayern Munich to show stability in terms of results, as well as efficiency in the transfer market. The team has been far from stable this season, and there’s a huge question mark over the acquisition of Sadio Mane last summer.

The player whose career top market value, according to Transfermarkt, amounted to €150m, was signed from Liverpool for €32m, and while that may look like a shrewd piece of business, the Senegalese has failed to justify even that kind of money being spent on his services. His frustration and the frustration of his teammates with him culminated in a dressing room brawl which ended with him giving Leroy Sane a bloody lip.

Further more, Mane, who mostly played on the left attacking flank in Liverpool’s famous attacking trio involving Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, was apparently expected to play centrally at Bayern, following the departure of Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona.

Mane has been known to play rather well there, but usually as a ‘false nine’, emulating Firmino’s contribution when the Brazilian wasn’t on the pitch and Luis Diaz played on the left. He simply isn’t a proper centre-forward, a classic No.9 like Lewandowski. And Bayern need that kind of player upfront.

Despite his agent claiming otherwise recently, it’s hard to imagine the 31-year-old having a place at the Allianz Arena in 2023/24. It’s very telling that Tuchel didn’t put him on against Koln when his team desperately needed a goal. Even more so that the decision proved to have been the right one.

Instead, Bayern are looking to sign a striker. One of the names frequently mentioned is Tottenham Hotspur star Harry Kane, as well as Eintracht Frankfurt’s Randal Kolo Muani.

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Veselin Trajkovic

Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.



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