The Bundesliga has returned from the post-World Cup winter break, but it seems Bayern Munich haven’t gotten the message that the season has started again. The Rekordmeister dropped two points against RB Leipzig on Friday (1-1) and then needed a world-class finish from Joshua Kimmich to salvage a 1-1 draw against Köln on Tuesday.
While the outcome at the Spitzenspiel against Leipzig will have few worries on Säbener Straße, the story after Tuesday’s game against Köln was slightly different. The first half, in particular, was poor as Bayern were left without a solution after Ellyes Skhiri made it 1-0 for the visiting Billy Goats.
Bayern lacked creativity, depth on their deep runs and looked incredibly vulnerable whenever Köln quickly won the ball in transition. Köln, in fact, might be disappointed that they didn’t score a second, effectively ending the game, on any of their quick transitions.
“We definitely have to talk about the first half, especially in terms of approach and attitude,” Bayern midfielder Joshua Kimmich told the media after the game. “We conceded a goal again after a set piece.” That was often the case in the first half of the season. This has to end as soon as possible. The second half was better.”
New Bayern Munich goalkeeper Yann Sommer echoed Kimmich’s sentiment. “We didn’t play a good first half and we made a lot of mistakes,” Sommer said. “We brought a lot more power to the field in the second half. The goal was great. Unfortunately, it was a bit late. If we equalized earlier, we could have won the game.”
In fact, Bayern was better in the second half. But part of the truth is also that, at times, there were memories of the German games in Qatar. The Rekordmeister would finish the game with 78% possession and dominated with 855 to 243 passes played.
“We were better in the second half after the substitutions,” Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann said. The second half was what we had imagined. I am confident that we will win again if we continue like this”.
Bayern sure got better after Kingsley Coman replaced Serge Gnabry (he faced criticism after the game for an unauthorized trip to Paris) and Ryan Gravenberch replaced Leon Goretzka. The two substitutions brought more speed and depth to Bayern’s game. But Köln still managed to tear down the final third, making it difficult for the likes of Jamal Musiala to find space inside the box.
Musiala would be taken off in the 68th minute and replaced by Thomas Müller. Musiala visibly lacked the pre-World Cup freshness and creativity. Without Musiala in his prime, Bayern have very few solutions to break through deep defensive lines.
Instead, it took a world-class finish from Kimmich in the 90th minute for Bayern to level. Kimmich’s shot from outside the box was surely special but it also highlighted the Rekordmeister’s frustration with finding solutions inside the box.
Perhaps getting Musiala up and running again will be the solution to many of Bayern’s post-World Cup problems. The rest of the league, however, will be hoping that the Rekordmeister needs a few more games to shake off the World Cup rust.
Frankfurt can close the gap to the top of the table on Wednesday with a win against Freiburg by just three points. That would set up a tasty top-table clash on Saturday, when Bayern host Frankfurt in what will be a veritable Topspiel.
Manuel Veth is the presenter of the Bundesliga Gegenpressing Podcast and the US Area Manager at transfer markt. It has also been published in The Guardian, Newsweek, Howler, Pro Soccer USA and various other outlets. Follow him on Twitter: @ManuelVeth