At least one of them just keeps on running: Kingsley Coman tirelessly whizzed up and down the left wing again on Saturday evening. Again and again the French helped on the defensive. And in the 67th minute, after a fabulous solo first along the sideline, then the goal line, he served the ball as if pulled on a string to Robert Lewandowski, who scored at least one point at Union with his goal to make it 1-1 for FC Bayern Berlin saved.
Bayern coach Hansi Flick recently said of Coman that the winger currently has “confidence in his body”, which is particularly important for a player who has suffered several injuries. Perhaps Coman stands out right now because this trust is gradually escaping to other players of the record champions at the end of a long year, with football almost without a break. Bayern always find it difficult to get going. In Berlin they fell behind in a Bundesliga game for the fifth time in a row – but this time after just three minutes they were particularly quick.
“We are currently not making the freshest impression,” admitted Flick after the encounter at the Alte Försterei. You have to know that the 1-0 for Union by Grischa Prömel was not only preceded by inadequate cover work by David Alaba, but shortly after the whistle, a big chance for Taiwo Awoniyi, which Manuel Neuer was able to destroy. “They were there from the very first minute,” Flick paid his respects to the Berliners, “unfortunately we weren’t.”
In the first half it seems as if Bayern have forgotten their game idea on the bus
Bayern needed a good 20 minutes to understand that there would be no passing points in this game either. At the beginning there was a lack of concentration, admitted attacker Thomas Müller self-critically: “If you fall behind early here in Berlin on this pitch, it will be difficult.” The team may have the quality to make up for a deficit, “but then sometimes it’s only enough for a draw – and that’s not enough for our demands.”
To their own amazement, Bayern have recently encountered their own style of play, especially in the league. The last opponents, Bremen, Stuttgart, Leipzig anyway, but now also Union Berlin, have long since taken over the aggressive pressing that Bayern used to humiliate FC Barcelona in the summer. In keeping with the tradition of the master locksmiths who once founded the club, the Berliners locked the entrances to their goal – not just at their own penalty area, but at the latest at the level of the center line. When the ball actually got stuck in one of Berlin’s many legs, the hosts usually looked for the goal without detour via the wings with a pass straight to the top – as if someone had told them that Bayern’s central defense is particularly vulnerable.
“We were very compact and didn’t leave Bayern much space,” said Union coach Urs Fischer. So the guests pushed the balls to each other accordingly, got caught up in misunderstandings and for a long time looked as if they had noticed on the pitch that they had forgotten their game idea in the team bus.
The situation in Berlin suddenly turned into the opposite of what the Bavarians were used to during the year. “You then notice with us that something is happening in our heads,” analyzed Flick. The ball is sometimes only knocked away under pressure or played as a safety pass “to get the ball out of responsibility”. According to Flick, there is a lack of “trust in one’s own quality”. Note: This is the coach of a club that won the Champions League, Championship and Cup this year.
Union, in turn, showed particular courage to take risks with his style of play, as the hosts had to replace two top performers in the injured Max Kruse and the suspended Robert Andrich. Before the game, coach Fischer had given the motto, which was as simple as it is sometimes difficult to achieve, that you just had to “do everything right”. Afterwards he could see that his team had come astonishingly close to this ideal within the scope of their possibilities. Unlike Bayern, who ultimately needed a stroke of genius from a single player in order to be successful, the Berlin team impressed with the unity of the team, in which the new players also integrated easily.
“I am extremely satisfied,” said Urs Fischer, summarizing his emotional state, “because the team cut everything from the start to the final whistle.” The header from Prömel to make it 1-0 was symbolic of the strength in width: it was the 25-year-old’s first goal in the Bundesliga. Prömel later reported on a second motivator alongside coach Fischer: “Before the game my dad wrote to me that it was time for my first goal.” Incidentally, Prömel was born in Stuttgart and thus completed the successful day for the Swabian metropolis, which had already manifested itself in Dortmund.
Manuel Neuer admits: “It would have been possible to beat us today.”
At least with the second half, Hansi Flick also agreed to some extent. His team played better and “occupied the rooms differently”. This is how Bayern got chances. Substitute Leroy Sane, to his own horror, could not use the biggest one in the 89th minute, because Union goalkeeper Andreas Luthe spectacularly slapped the header before he could fly over the line. Luthe’s colleague Manuel Neuer summarized his impressions of the second half in a kind of retrospective subjunctive: “It would have been possible to beat us today, but we would still have that ourselves Lucky Punch can put. “In the end, both remained only would have been, if.
It could soon be the same with the championship lead under the Christmas tree, especially since Bayern are worried before the last two league games that, in addition to the injured Joshua Kimmich, their second boss will also be absent in the center: Leon Goretzka was replaced shortly before the end in Berlin because one Thigh muscle pinched. “He felt something at the back during the sprint,” reported Hansi Flick, “hopefully it’s not a serious injury.”