I have only got round to watching this game today due to work, but it is always fun to watch preseason games. While there is not too much to be taken from these friendlies before everyone starts training with the team again, it is an interesting chance to look at early form of individual plays, some new youngsters and how all the new pieces integrate against opponents that they do not know from the training pitch.
Due to the 11 subs allowed I will look at each half individually. I will split the team into two groups – starters and youth players, and within that into three groups: good, neither here nor there, bad.
This is how the team lined up in the classic, boring, 4-5-1:
Johansson, Stanisic, Martinez (->Alaba), Bernat
Gnabry, Shabani, Will, Zylla, Ribery
Overall I think that the team played well with some good agressive football against an opponent with near first team quality. The midfield was a nice surprise because none of the three (Zylla, Will, Shabani) are first team regulars but they didn’t get completely overrun, especially Will stood out. At the same time it has to be said that Juve is a team who has it’s strengths over the wings and not down the middle.
Bayern’s best play was also over the wings with Ribery and Gnabry stand out players. Martinez also did a really good job in the center.
Ribery – has taken on the captains armband in preseason and led the team by example. Brought a lot of dynamic actions into the game and could only be stopped by fouls. Also showed the same aggression as if it were a Champions League game after he was fouled by Chiellini, spun around and then looked like he was going to take the Italian’s head off. Emotion and passion like that is great because it gives the other players something to latch on to. My player of the first half.
Gnabry – almost as good as Ribery, explosive and powerful going forward with some incisive passes and unexpected actions. Also had at least one cracking shot from the right corner of the box. If he keeps playing like this it will be tough for Robben next season.
Martinez – very stable at the back and his influence was felt even more after he was taken out because the defence was totally unsettled and without order for the 0:2. Strong in his tackling and heading but you could tell that he has lost his speed and ranginess, which I love to think of from the 2013 season where he was a midfield hoover. I still think that he would be best served as a left CB in a back 3, slightly pushed up as a hybrid DM/CB, but with the coverage in behind him of the middle CB.
Neither here nor there
Bernat – ok, so he gets points for trying, but he didn’t even manage to show that he was significantly better than the 17 year old RB Johansson. You could see that the effort was there but it didn’t really materialise into anything apart from some nice one twos with Ribery. Maybe I view him with “will-be-gone-soon” tinted glasses, but I also do not think that he is a great fit for what the strengths of the team are. Not a bad performance but not exciting either.
Wagner – I am usually a big fan of his, which is probably why he is in this section and not in Bad. In my opinion he was doing too much talking and not much movement, had hardly any chances and looked as if he could barely move. I don’t know if he put a shot on target either. What you do have to say is that he was playing against formidable opponents and that he was always binding at least one if not two, allowing for more room on the wings which made Juve work harder in one on ones or with the Wing players having to work back more.
Ulreich – come on Ulreich! He started the game with a fantastic save but it was all downhill from there. Completely responsible for the 0:1 (I got flashbacks to the Madrid game) and was beaten in the short corner for the 0:2, which isn’t exactly flattering. He recently said that he hopes he gets some playing time next season…not in any important games please if this is anything to judge by.
Alaba – maybe this is a bit harsh because he was thrown into the cold water after the Martinez injury, at a position he doesn’t play well at (CB), but Alaba has the confidence to take it and in my opinion needs to work a bit harder than the last seasons. He was only on for a couple of minutes and was completely responsible for the 0:2. Tried to play the offside trap, failed miserably, and thereby left Favilli of Turin running free on goal. Stop playing him as a CB!
Will (19) – leader in midfield. Played well above his years and looked like a player with first team experience. Good movement, good defending and not scared to shoot. Played box to box and could become a first team player in the next 4 years. I would like to say earlier but it is always going to take longer to break into the Bayern midfield with the grown up talent there. The youth player of the first half, just above the guy below.
Johansson (17) – before I watched the game I read some articles and the comments below them and they absolutely roasted him. I haven’t watched the second half yet but what the recently 17-year-old(!) played against first team level opposition who continually targeted his side, was really strong. He does not have the speed of a Kimmich or Alaba, but his tactical awareness and game intelligence put him in the rare position to be on the same level as Lahm one day. I know I sound like I am gushing but there were several instances where the decisions and movements he made were impeccable, and that beautiful perfect sliding tackle at the edge of the box. Also slight things like drifting inside slightly without the ball, taking the winger with him, to open a pass lane from our CB straight to the winger, those are the kind of nuances that end up making great players if they are refined right. Don’t get me wrong, he still hast a LOOOONG way to go, but his ceiling seems limitless. As a tactical side note, I also think that he could be perfect as a wing back with a alongside a back three, because like our current two Alaba and Kimmich he has strengths as a midfielder and can drift inside.
Neither here nor there
Shabani (19) – the comparisons to Özil are definitely understandable. There were long periods of the game where he completely disappeared, but then there were one or two moments of absolute genius. Now, I am not a fan of the Arsenal man at all, because I do not like his work rate and body language, but Shabani is a Bavarian youth player and I have the distinct hope that the work ethic that Kovac is instilling into the first team will trickle down, especially is some of these guys regularly train with the first team. I think that Shabani could have real potential, but as with all playmakers who get too much credit too early, if they don’t have the work rate to match they end up playing in a lesser league or not making it in the pros. I put him in this category because it is a nice start but he has so much more to prove.
Zylla (18) – I have to say that I did not really see much from him. He picked up and dropped off some good passes, had a dodgy shot and patrolled the midfield, but was not really very visible.
Stanisic (18) – he was not playing good and the opponent knew it. When Alex Sandro of Juventus hit the side netting it was because he got pulled into midfield attacking the ball, which left Johansson covering two players. For the 0:1 he plays a bad pass back to Ulreich (not his first or last bad pass of the day), which started the events that led to the goal as Ulreich tried to salvage it (even though he should have just given it up). The opponent played more across him now, and while it was Alaba who caused the 0:2, Stanisic also speculated for the offside and then didn’t sprint back but did more of a leisurely jog. To illustrate this: Alaba was running in the opposite direction, had to stop, turn and therefore started running with less momentum from a couple of meters further back than Stanisic, by the time the ball was in the net 40 meters later Alaba was 1 meter in front of the youth player.
Altogether it was an enjoyable first half and I cant wait to watch the second.