Bayern Munich kicked off the 2019/20 Bundesliga season on Friday, hosting Hertha Berlin at the Allianz Arena. Despite controlling the game throughout, the Bavarians succumbed to a disappointing 2-2 draw with their visitors. Niko Kovac and Co. have plenty to take away from the match. Bayern Munich’s lack of depth, however, was the issue most exposed by the side from Germany’s capital.
Bayern Munich’s Lack of Depth Exposed
Bayern Munich went into this game firm favourites to emerge with three points. Though Hertha Berlin have become a sort of bogey side for the Rekordmeister in recent seasons, Bayern’s quality should have been too much for the Berliners. And that was the case for the majority of the match. The Bavarians suffocated their opponents, forcing them deep into their own half.
However, Hertha Berlin found a few opportunities to breathe and did well to take advantage of them. New signing Dodi Lukebakio converted a half-hearted counter-attack into a goal by way of a nasty deflection, before Marko Grujic doubled his side’s tally just two minutes later after beating a dazed Benjamin Pavard to a loose ball and cooly rounding the completely exposed Manuel Neuer.
Yes, Bayern were unlucky to go down to goals of such fashion. Nevertheless, they only have themselves to blame for the disappointment of their draw. Die Roten had plenty of opportunities to put their opponents to the sword but could not take advantage of them.
Chances Wasted or Not Created
As dismal as Bayern’s defending seemed it was their attack that truly disappointed. Some spectacular work from Serge Gnabry, easily the side’s best player on the day, and an unnecessary penalty awarded by VAR overshadowed the fact that Bayern struggled to create many significant chances against Hertha Berlin.
Perhaps Kingsley Coman should have been awarded a penalty or two, but the Frenchman otherwise disappointed with his final ball. The 23-year-old has a bad habit of beating his man just to continue dribbling without ever making anything significant happen afterwards.
With Thiago Alcantara – Bayern’s de facto source of creativity in the centre of the park – sequestered to defensive midfield, Bayern struggled to pick apart Berlin’s compact five-man backline.
In most cases, a second-half substitute would come on to mend these issues. Such is Bayern Munich’s lack of depth, however, that Niko Kovac could not rely on that to solve his problem. With Leon Goretzka injured and new addition Ivan Perisic suspended, Kovac was forced to turn to youngsters Alphonso Davies and Renato Sanches.
Davies and Sanches are good players in their own rights, but neither is much of a game-changer. Both players were brought on far too late to make much of a difference regardless. But Kovac’s choice to make his subs with only five minutes left in the match is not the problem. The issue most clearly exposed on Friday was Bayern Munich’s lack of depth that has come as a result of a quiet summer transfer window
Bayern Munich’s Lack of Depth: Problem Solved?
Shortly after the final whistle of Friday’s match, Bayern Munich confirmed the signings of Brazilian superstar Philippe Coutinho and 20-year-old French midfielder Mickael Cuisance. Whether these announcements were already planned or were simply made to appease the Bayern faithful is up for debate. One item that is not up for debate, however, is that both moves were ones the club needed to make.
Coutinho will offer Kovac a fine alternative to Kingsley Coman on the left flank or another creative outlet in midfield. Against sides like Hertha Berlin who sit deep and compact, the 27-year-old’s creativity and passing range will be invaluable.
Cuisance, meanwhile, might not have the same immediate impact as Coutinho, but he could still play an important role. Thiago Alcantara is too good going forward to play exclusively as a number six. Cuisance will provide Kovac another option at the position and could even develop into a player of real quality by the end of the season.
Whether or not these additions will be enough to fix Bayern Munich’s lack of depth remains to be seen. At the very least, it is a step in the right direction from the Bavarians. But only time will tell if a lack of depth is the only problem plaguing the German giants or if the root of the issue lies much deeper.