By 90Min
August 25, 2019

Reigning Bundesliga and DFB Pokal champions Bayern Munich faced Schalke on Saturday at the Veltins Arena, and comfortably dispatched Die Königsblauen 3-0 thanks to a Robert Lewandowski treble.

The Pole has started the league campaign in fine fettle, with five goals in just two matches masking what has been a relatively slow start to the season by Bayern's standards.

Four points out of a possible six means that Die Roten are not leading the Bundesliga and whenever that it is the case, most fans think Bayern are in a crisis. However, it could end up being like that with the signs not all pointing in the right direction - as of yet.

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Manager Niko Kovac has had a year at the helm but it still seems he has not settled into one specific system and an obvious playing identity. 

Bayern are in somewhat of a transitional period after losing club legends Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and Rafinha, as well as turfing out Mats Hummels in a bid to liven up their ageing squad.


To compensate, Lucas Hernandez, Benjamin Pavard, Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Perisic have arrived, but they will need time to adapt to the Bundesliga, the city and the club. Throw into the mix the fact that Corentin Tolisso has just returned to full fitness after a season out of action, and you begin to understand that patience may be needed.

That being said, there are some fundamental issues that Kovac needs to solve that were very evident against Schalke and in their previous fixture against Hertha Berlin. 

Against Schalke, Bayern were unable to muster up clear cut chances despite, scoring three goals. Individual brilliance from Lewandowski bailed them out as he scored from the penalty spot and a sensational free-kick which sailed into the top corner.

The last goal was a great counter-attack, but Schalke were exposed after committing bodies forward - it wasn't hard. That alongside a Tolisso half volley were the only good opportunities that Kovac's side were able to create, despite having Serge Gnabry, Kingsley Coman, Thomas Müller and Joshua Kimmich among their midfield ranks.

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In their 2-2 draw against Hertha, it was a somewhat similar scenario. Thiago, who was injured for the Schalke match, featured against Hertha and was at the heart of everything Bayern created.

With such talented players at their disposal, the disheartening nature of Bayern's inability to carve out opportunities will frustrate even the most devout of fans.

With Bayern being so lacklustre in front of goal, you would expect their defence to be solid at least. Unfortunately, that is not the case either for the Bavarian faithful, as they appear susceptible to the counter. Schalke, Hertha and rivals Borussia Dortmund have all carved open Bayern at various points, but only BVB, in the DFL Supercup, have taken their opportunities.

Kovac and new Bayern assistant Hansi Flick tested a new system against Schalke which resembled a 3-2-2-3 with Pavard, Niklas Sule and Hernandez in the heart of defence, with Kimmich and David Alaba ahead of them in central midfield. 

However, it did not have the desired effect of dominating proceedings - as Schalke managed to bypass the midfield into acres of space countless amount of times.

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Bayern were lucky that they were facing opposition in Die Knappen who lacked a cutting edge and quality, but had they faced better opposition, it would have been likely that Die Roten would have conceded at least twice. With Kimmich in midfield as a 'number six', Bayern were unable to create from deep or have any great protection in defence.


The performance also demonstrated their over-reliance on Thiago, as well as the quality he possesses. Last season, the Spaniard was among Bayern's best performers, alongside Gnabry and Lewandowski. 


His brilliance in getting out of tight spaces and opposition pressing with his flawless trickery and touch gave Bayern a huge numbers advantage in their attack last season, which resulted in a huge number of chances being created.


But Kovac knows he has an issue. He's asked the board for a new 'number six' this summer, and sanctioned the departure of Renato Sanches. Marc Roja was touted as a possible replacement, but reports suggest that Bayern will look elsewhere - instead opting for a player in the mould of Javi Martinez and similarly capable as Liverpool's Fabinho for example.

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With a week left of the European transfer window, a transfer does look quite unlikely though. If that's the case, Kovac will likely need to revert to his preferred 4-3-3 formation, if he's to have any chance of maintaining stability and pushing towards the club's desired success in the Champions League.


Right now, though, the Bundesliga title seems far from a certainty. Rivals Borussia Dortmund are looking ferocious in attack, and will have learnt many things about themselves after throwing away the title last season.


Bayern will know that they have a lot to work on from their opening few performances, and they must learn to tighten up when they concede possession. Yes, they have the best squad in the league, but they shouldn't overlook anybody this season, if their defending so far is anything to go by.

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The German giants rely heavily on individual brilliance and have structural flaws in both attack and defence. In a time where systems and styles win the big titles over individual brilliance- à la Liverpool over Barcelona- Bayern's star-studded line-up look lost and out of ideas.


Much work to do for Kovac and co, but it won't be a boring watch that's for sure.

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