The Bundesliga is back from its winter break after the World Cup, but Bayern Munich don’t seem to have gotten the message that the season is back on. The Rekordmeister dropped two points against RB Leipzig in a 1-1 draw on Friday before needing world-class Joshua Kimmich to salvage a 1-1 draw against Köln on Tuesday.
While the result of the Säbener Straße Spitzenspiel against Leipzig will be a concern, it was a slightly different story after Tuesday’s match against Köln. The first half in particular was poor as Bayern had no solution after Ellyes Skhiri put the visiting Billy Goats 1-0 up.
Bayern lacked creativity, depth in deep runs and looked incredibly vulnerable when Köln won the ball quickly in transition. In fact, Köln can feel disappointed that they didn’t score a single second in a quick transition that effectively ended the game.
“We really have to talk about the first half, especially the attitude and attitude,” Bayern midfielder Joshua Kimmich told the media after the match. “We conceded a goal again after the attack. It happened so often in the first half of the season. It has to stop as soon as possible. The second half was better.”
Bayern Munich’s new goalkeeper Yann Sommer echoed Kimmich’s sentiments. “We didn’t play well in the first half and we made a lot of mistakes,” Sommer said. “We brought a lot more energy to the field in the second half. The goal was great. Unfortunately, it was a little too late. If we had equalized earlier, we could have won the game.”
Bayern were definitely better in the second half. But part of the truth is also that there were occasional flashbacks to Germany’s games in Qatar. The Rekordmeister finished the game with 78% possession and dominated 855 to 243 passes.
“We were better in the second half after half-time,” Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann said. “Cologne sat deep and made it difficult for us. If we had scored earlier it would have been difficult for them. The way we played in the second half was what we imagined. I’m sure we’ll get back to winning ways if we keep it up.
Of course, Bayern improved after Kingsley Coman replaced Serge Gnabry (he was criticized after the match for an illegal trip to Paris) and Leon Goretzka was replaced by Ryan Gravenberch. Two changes brought more speed and depth to Bayern’s game. However, Köln still managed to break down the final third, making it difficult for the likes of Jamal Musiala to find space in the box.
In the 68th minute, Musiala was sent off and replaced by Thomas Müller. Visibly, Musiala lacked freshness and creativity before the World Cup. Without Musiala, Bayern have very few solutions to overcome deep defensive lines.
Instead, it took a world-class finish from Kimmich to equalize for Bayern in the 90th minute. Kimmich’s shot from outside the box was certainly special, but it also highlighted the Rekordmeister’s frustration at finding solutions inside the box.
Perhaps bringing back Musiala will be the solution to many of Bayern’s post-World Cup problems. But the rest of the league will be hoping the Rekordmeister needs a few more games to shake off the World Cup rust.
Frankfurt can cut the gap at the top of the table to just three points after beating Freiburg on Wednesday. That would make for a tasty top-of-the-table finish on Saturday when Bayern host Frankfurt in a true Topspiel.
Manuel Veth is the host of the show Bundesliga Gegenpressing Podcast. and US Area Manager Transfermarkt. He has also been featured in the Guardian, Newsweek, Howler, Pro Soccer USA and several other publications. Follow him on Twitter: @ManuelVeth