What was important and done right
Fri, 23/12/22, 09:47
Reviewing the first half of the Bundesliga season
Real winners don’t let setbacks knock them off course but in fact come back stronger from them.
FC Bayern have proven impressively so far over the 2022/23 Bundesliga season that they continue to carry that mentality, going into the new year in first place after 15 games and with a four-point lead over Freiburg.
Goals remain lofty
Before the league action resumes with an away game at RB Leipzig on 20 January, there’s a feeling of confidence at Säbener Straße.
“We’re happy that we‘re where we belong,” said captain Manuel Neuer before looking ahead to the new year: “We’re to some extent the favourites, and one of the favourites in the Champions League. We have the ambition and drive to want to achieve everything.” Even though the goalkeeper will be out for the time being through injury, the goals remain the same.
In the right direction
What also provides excitement for the new year is the knowledge that Bayern have obviously scored goals and won games, but they have also learnt lessons. They failed to muster up a victory between Matchday 4 and 7, with the draw at Borussia Dortmund symptomatic of a difficult period. But shortcomings were recognised, analysed and ultimately remedied.
“It goes without saying that the results weren’t right, but the way we played wasn’t that bad. It was a process in the right direction,” stated Joshua Kimmich. But October was definitely a “golden“ month for Julian Nagelsmann’s team, with far more big chances created and, crucially, taken.
With six league wins in a row, scoring 21 goals and conceding just five, Nagelsmann was right to be full of praise: “Real credit for what the team’s doing right now. Both in terms of character and the manner, it’s outstanding.”
The right tweaks ensured things turned around. An out-and-out centre-forward in Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting came in up front to battle for and win balls.
Choupo and team in top form
The 33-year-old scored six times across 10 appearances (520 minutes) in the league and provided two assists. He was often in the right place at the right time. Just like defenders Matthijs de Ligt and Dayot Upamecano, who improved with each passing game. The team was also defending as a unit.
That new defensive strength after what Neuer called a “dip” was described as the “biggest step” by Leon Goretzka. The midfielder added: “It was our big goal to get into a flow. You have to work hard for that, which we’ve done.” There’s been the right mix of quality and attitude, and not just with the first XI.
No matter who’s played or who’s come on, “it’s worked and the game has continued smoothly,” noted CEO Oliver Kahn after the impressive 6-2 win over Mainz. It was symptomatic for how versatile the team has been in attack, with six different goalscorers in Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala, Sadio Mane, Goretzka, Mathys Tel and Choupo-Moting.
Praise from Kahn
“Everyone’s up for it. You can see how the team ticks,” said Kahn. Even the temporary absences of Neuer and Thomas Müller were excellently compensated for.
Neuer will now be sidelined for some time, while Müller and the rest of the Germany internationals, who didn’t have a great time of things at the World Cup in Qatar, now have the ideal chance of the holidays to catch their breath, reflect and recover before going all out for their club again.
Nagelsmann has already made clear what things will come down to: “It’s about maintaining the momentum for the second part of the season. But I’m confident we’ll also be able to take the spirit within the group into the new year.”
He also knows all too well that Bayern’s winning mentality has already overcome such setbacks.
Check out the best photos from Bayern’s 2022 in our gallery: