After not playing a game for nearly three months, Bayern Munich’s reserve team, Bayern II, roared back into action with a phenomenal 2-1 win over league leaders SpVgg Unterhaching. Here are five observations from the entertaining game:
Unterhaching played a dirty game
Bayern fans may recognize Sandro Wagner, who came through the Bavarians’ youth system in the mid 2000s and returned for a year in 2017. However, Wagner was on the opposite side today as coach of Bayern’s opponent Unterhaching.
Unfortunately, Wagner’s Unterhaching side has developed a reputation for playing dirty and it was on full display here. The team would commit horrible fouls, lunge in dangerously and endanger Bayern II’s players all night, while simultaneously falling to the ground at the slightest touch and being incredibly theatrical. Yet the referee never caught on and let them get away every time. It was awful.
…Yet Bayern still succeeded
Despite Unterhaching playing dirty and sitting top of the league, 22 points ahead of Bayern II, the Bavarian youngsters never stopped running and never lost faith. The team controlled the game from the start to the finish, with most players delivering phenomenal performances. They showed little of the defensive naïvety for which Bayern II is known and sliced through the Unterhaching defense on many occasions.
Bayern II focused more on central combinations rather than wide play today and it bore fruit with wonderful interplay from Bayern II’s central midfielders (more on them later) that created multiple fantastic opportunities. The winner came late but make no mistake, the team completely deserved to win the game. It begs the question of why this Bayern II side, even after the win, is still 19 points behind Unterhaching.
Frans Krätzig did well in an unfamiliar position
Bayern loaned out David Herold, the main starter at left back, and brought in no obvious replacements. Perhaps Bayern wanted Adam Aznou to fill the void, but the Spaniard is currently injured. And with right back Mamin Sanyang away on international duty, Bayern was light on full backs. So Frans Krätzig, usually playing in midfield, was forced to fill in at left back. And he did really well. Despite some understandable positional mishaps, Krätzig was delighted to have more space to run into and contributed greatly to Bayern’s control in midfield by inverting a lot. Coach Holger Seitz will be pleased with the success of this experiment.
Arijon Ibrahimović was great…until he got sent off
Arijon Ibrahimović missed Bayern’s first team training on Friday, so it was obvious he was going to play for Bayern II today. He started as a left winger and was required to hold the width a little more than he would have liked, but he still had a little license to roam centrally. The youngster was a livewire throughout and Bayern II’s best player on a day when most players did very well, consistently beating his man, finding great passes through Unterhaching’s defense and controlling the game. He even got an assist for the first goal, flicking on a cross from Timo Kern for Grant-Leon Ranos to score.
However, he lost his head at the end. After an Unterhaching player fouled another player with a horrible two footed lunge, the players started gathering around the incident. Ibrahimović came racing in as well and pushed an opposition player in the chest. That player used the incident to fall, clutch at his face, and claim Ibrahimović hit him — earning the Bayern man a red card. While the red card was clearly undeserved, the push was completely unnecessary and shows that Ibrahimović still needs to mature a little.
Taichi Fukui and Hyunju Lee run the show as Eyüp Aydin is benched
New arrival Taichi Fukui started his first ever game for Bayern alongside Hyunju Lee and captain Timo Kern and helped boss the midfield while Aydin, who previously was an undisputed starter, looked on from the bench. The latter was subbed in at half time, but it is yet another sign that Aydin will not renew his contract and leave in the summer. And perhaps the coach wants to start easing Aydin out of the side.
Focusing back on the midfielders who started, the Japanese Fukui was a livewire with incredible energy and stamina, completing the whole 90 minutes seemingly without tiring. His composure on the ball was fantastic as well. The exact same can be said for the South Korean Hyunju Lee. The two delivered textbook midfield performances, but the cherry on top was obviously how the two linked up for the winner in the 92nd minute. Fukui played a beautiful pass through to Lee, who just managed to round the keeper and somehow squeeze the ball past a lunging defender. Lee took off his shirt in celebration and the whole team gathered around the goalscorer to celebrate. What a phenomenal end to the match.