The big question before this big game remained unanswered afterwards. Was it an advantage for FC Bayern that coach Julian Nagelsmann was recently in the service of opponent RB Leipzig and thus not only knows every path in the catacombs of the stadium, but also most of the paths on the lawn? Or would the still very young RB finally benefit in this historically unequal duel – because in Leipzig they know exactly how Munich’s new coach Nagelsmann thinks and sees football?
The result – a spectacular 4: 1 (1: 0) for FC Bayern – had less to do with cabin secrets and betrayal of tactics. It depicts the current balance of power between the eternal defending champion and the latest challenger, whereby the Leipzigers now have to console themselves with the fact that their performance in the top Bundesliga game was more promising than their overall unsuccessful start to the season.
His team “didn’t play badly,” said RB coach Jesse Marsch at Sky, “the group gave everything. With a little more luck, things can look different.” Nagelsmann replied mischievously: “I’ve always felt comfortable here in the stadium, even today.” Looking at the clear result, he added: “We weren’t that much better. We can certainly play better.”
The game had started in a little puzzling way, it took exactly the course that the experts had prophesied. Conveniently, RB Leipzig was not yet founded when the TV commentators reflexively called the first 15 minutes of a game “the sampling phase”, they don’t know anything like that in Leipzig – especially not since Jesse Marsch is a coach at RB, a trainer , which represents the American sports culture, in which there are no sampling phases. RB took the kick-off as an opportunity to play forward quickly and intensively, but a robbery that the opponent expects is only half as effective.
Leipzig is too seldom able to plunge the Bayern defense into serious turbulence
Bayern watched the rival attempt to attack, lured and lurked in order to use possible Leipzig ball losses for a swift counterattack. As is well known, efficiency, cleverness and what the ex-trainer Ottmar Hitzfeld once called “battle luck” are part of Munich’s sporting culture, and so it did not surprise any expert what happened in the 12th minute. Leipzig’s Kevin Kampl was helpful to Bayern by taking the ball in his own penalty area with his upper arm – which referee Aytekin, after consulting the television court on the sidelines, declared that it was worthy of a penalty. A decision that, on its own, should not lead to any major debates about a possible Bayern bonus, unlike on the first match day, when the Gladbachers were denied two hardly debatable penalties against Bayern; However, the counter-cut to a scene from the third minute of the game, when Thomas Müller blocked a ball on the edge of the penalty area with a slightly splayed arm, should also provide discussion this weekend.
The court of arbitration in Cologne did not recognize any unnatural hand movements – and saw no reason to convict referee Aytekin of a clear wrong decision. In Robert Lewandowski’s sports culture, missed shots are not provided, just as concentrated and relaxed, he converted the penalty to the early Munich lead – his sixth goal of the season in the fourth Bundesliga game.
This goal steered the game in a direction that seemed familiar to the audience. The people of Leipzig worked their way through, they tried to be a decent challenger, and the Spaniard Olmo in particular proved several times that his feet are quite on FC Bayern level – but as a team, the hosts were too seldom able to to plunge the Bayern defense into serious turbulence. Coach Nagelsmann had decided to leave Niklas Süle, who had returned from the DFB, on the bench, in his place the Frenchman Lucas Hernández was allowed to play the left central defender. The basic order that Nagelsmann had chosen was quite interesting: The three-chain lover presented a kind of three-and-a-half chain. In the event of opposing possession, Benjamin Pavard, Dayot Upamecano, Lucas Hernández and Alphonso Davies formed the usual alliance of four, while in possession of the ball, Davies stuck forward and let his colleagues form a kind of three-way chain.
To give up? Give away? It doesn’t exist at Leipzig
Bayern don’t like it so much when you force a wild game on them, they prefer to have things under control and decide for themselves when it gets quick and adventurous. After the break, however, they showed what it means when several centuries of competition routine lie between them and their opponents. In that intense back and forth in which they embroiled Leipzig, Bayern initially kept a brutally cool head: They dissected the Leipzig defense as cold as ice, Pavard’s pass found Davies on the wing, whose cross was played by Jamal Musiala, who came into play for the ailing Serge Gnabry steered into the goal (47th). Seven minutes later, Musiala chipped the ball into the center after Lewandowski’s preparatory work, where Sane gratefully used it (54th) – that now looked spectacular after a preliminary decision and maybe even after a show of power by the record champions, especially since a supposed connection goal from Leipzig’s Silva due to offside shortly before ‘was rightly revoked (52nd).
With such dynamic game dynamics, normal teams would ask themselves whether they shouldn’t do better that day; whether it would not be better to keep the damage within limits before these outrageous on-the-rocks Bavarians might add a few more hits. But the Leipzigers are not only an RB team supported by Fuschl am See, they have also become a bit American under Jesse Marsch. To give up? Give away? Doesn’t exist. Four minutes later the Austrian Konrad Laimer chased the ball with force and a lot of American optimism from 25 meters into the Bayern goal – with a triple change (Forsberg, Haidara and Gvardiol came) Marsch tried to ride the wave, while Nagelsmann countered with the use of Marcel Sabitzer who was still from Leipzig until last week. The audience whistled Sabitzer, but was amazed at the same time because Nagelsmann also took Lewandowski off the field – possibly to get him some strength for the game in Barcelona on Tuesday evening.
What would have happened if RB attacker Silva hadn’t just slipped past a cross from Nkunku in the 64th minute? Then the American coach might have believed in a 6-3 victory. But on this warm Saxon late summer evening, the logic remained Bavarian: The substitute Choupo-Moting scored the 4: 1 in stoppage time.