On the opening day of the Bundesliga season, as Bayern Munich were thrashing Eintracht Frankfurt, only the defending Europa League champions, the joke on Twitter was that the championship was already decided. It’s only half of the joke. Munich have had their last 10 league titles, not really all that has been challenged in any of them, and the pair ended up being a real canter. Even losing to the goal-scoring cyborg, Robert Lewandowski doesn’t seem to matter much, as Sadio Mané seems to have integrated seamlessly into a slightly more dynamic-looking striker with varied movements. his.
That feeling didn’t go away as Munich added two more wins over the next two weeks, 9-0 on aggregate, against Wolfsburg and Bochum. We look like we’re going to have another season-long debate about Model “50 + 1” of German football which many say makes Bayern inaccessible to anyone else, but also keeps the game in Germany in general much healthier than anywhere else.
Well, the funny thing about that…
Munich have not won any of their last four at the tournament, drawing three and losing yesterday to Augsburg. They are currently 4th in the Bundesliga, could drop to 5th depending on what Hoffenheim do after today and are 5 points behind Union Berlin, inspired by Jordan Pefok at the top of the table (Jordan Pefok) , the striker was so excellent that Gregg Berhalter didn’t want to offend him by making him spend time with the USMNT this week).
So is there anything here? Does Munich really have to try to win an 11th title in a row? Dare we whisper about the possibility that they… don’t really win?
It’s hard to achieve that. Indices still love Munich. They have a 5 goal lead in projected goals for the season at 17.7, actually scoring 19. They are as stingy as anyone, having the third best expected goal count of the season, just behind Union and Koln. No one comes close to them in shots and shots on target every game. And of course, they also lead in shots and on target per game. If the stats and numbers on the ground start to differ, we know where this is going.
That doesn’t mean weird things haven’t been happening to Munich. They were on the receiving end of the top goalkeeper performance all-time in Germany by Yann Sommer, who helped them hold a draw at home to Monchengladbach. They drew with Union as Union scored with just one of two shots on target while Bayern hit six on target for a total of 21 goals. The story was similar in their subsequent draw with Stuttgart, when they scored with both shots on target. And yesterday, they simply could not find the net, even though they had piled up 1.8 xG. In this 4-match winless streak, Munich has 8.8 xG points while scoring only 4 goals.
There are probably more than a few Munich supporters looking at Mané, who has failed to score in these four games (he started three of them), has taken 12 shots and scored none of them. there. It’s just the most unfair aspect of world football when compared to Lewandowski’s habit of finding the net, but it’s a job one takes on. But then, none of the Munich strikers actually opened fire this time around. Only Leroy Sané has scored among their regular fixtures in the previous three. Thomas Müller has not found his target yet.
Fatigue can also be an issue. A draw and a loss followed their Champions League excursion (where they were conceded 2-2 against Inter and Barca). That pace will not stop when this international break is over, and there is no club in Europe that is not feeling the crunch.
However, that feeling of hope fades pretty quickly when looking at Munich’s defensive stats, all of which are better than last season. According to FBRef.com, although they don’t have as much pressure in the attacking third as last season, that’s mainly because they always have the ball. According to Understat, they ramped up the pressure without the ball, reducing their number of passes per defensive act to just 6.40, the lowest in the league by 25% (PPDA measures how quickly a team tries to hit the ball). block or intercept the opponent half when the other team has the ball). Mané’s better mobility and energy than Lewandowski play a big part here.
Munich are allowing less progressive passes this season (those that go more than 10 meters from the deepest point of the last six or any pass into the box), down to 16 from 25 passes last year. Opponents completed only 68% of their total passes compared to 75% last season. Teams made just 11.5 shots per game in 13 games last season. Coach Julian Nagelsmann has imported some of his Leipzig spice to turn Munich into a more intense defensive and attacking team.
After that, this seemed like an odd finish, not good for Munich and good for a host of opponents, but not a trend. In this particular season, more weird things will happen, but as the basic numbers tell, the world hasn’t changed.