It wasn’t exactly the dream start in Wednesday’s DFB-Pokal contest for Bayern Munich. Yes, the red Bavarian team had powered ahead to a 1-0 lead inside ten minutes, but this time, it was FC Augsburg that held the distinction and not Die Roten — who on the day were in their commemorative Olympiastadion kits.
“We had imagined that differently, that we would hold up better there,” Thomas Müller explained afterward (via kicker).
The veteran attacking midfielder watched most of the Augsburg game from the bench, and then had to miss Hoffenheim due to illness. But his diagnosis was spot on.
One might say the only assault the Rekordmeister were mustering was on the eyes of the spectators — though opinions on the kits vary. But, much like the FC Barcelona game in the Champions League that started the same way, the Augsburg ascendancy would not last. And once their opponents started to slow down, Bayern simply revved up their engines to hit the next gear.
As Müller confirmed. “What you saw as a result is that Augsburg had already invested a lot — and then the spaces became larger,” he said. “Maybe they overpaced a bit.”
It’s a good thing for Bayern that that opening salvo of intensity could not be maintained by the home side. Then again, as Barça showed, it’s not common for even top teams to be able to do that over a full ninety minutes. The physicality wears on the pressing team as much as their opponents.
“If Augsburg plays this kind of game, they have more quality in that style than we do,” Müller mused. “There, Augsburg simply have a lot of players who can do that very, very well.”
Warning signs for a Bayern team that can sometimes struggle to deal with such a brave display? — even going back to the Villareal defeat in the Champions League knockouts, one can see the beginnings of a pattern, even a blueprint.
But as the results showed, it’s also a gamble, a double-edged sword. Fail to sink Bayern well enough, and the tides may turn — overwhelmingly so. Especially with men like Müller at the helm of the Die Roten response.