Bayern Munich were unable to bounce back from their Champions League nightmare in midweek as they were left frustrated with a 1-1 draw against Hoffenheim.
Benjamin Pavard would open the scoring in the 17th minute, as a miss-hit shot from Serge Gnabry found the Bayern defender unmarked in the box. He stabbed the ball underneath Oliver Baumann to settle the nerves around the Allianz Arena. However, the nerves soon built up again and when Andrej Kramarić equalised for the visitors putting Bayern’s two point lead over Borussia Dortmund in doubt.
With chances for both sides to take all three points, the final whistle would ultimately mean a point a piece. A late Stuttgart goal spared the blushes of Bayern, but this is a day they could have made there hunt for the Bundesliga title far easier. As for Hoffenheim, they will look to push on and climb even further away from the relegation zone.
Bayern are in desperate need for inspiration
With only a point gained against a Hoffenheim side fighting for their lives near the bottom of the Bundesliga table, it will certainly feel more like two valuable points dropped for Bayern. Tuchel’s side were unable to offer a performance to reassure those associated with the the Rekordmeister that they will bounce back from their recent poor form. The first half ended with Hoffenheim failing to register a shot on goal which would suggest a dominant performance from the hosts. However, while Hoffenheim rarely threatened the Bayern goal, Thomas Tuchel’s side were far from convincing themselves. The frustration was clear to see at half-time as when both sides went in for the second half Tuchel was visibly frustrated, and Dayot Upamecano was one of the Bayern players on the wrong end of Tuchel’s fury.
Nevertheless, if the Bayern faithful were left underwhelmed in the first-half, they would have felt infuriated in the second. The uncertainty on the pitch was resembled on the terraces as the atmosphere within the ground was palpable. Hoffenheim controlled significant parts of the second-half, and could have found the winning goal with the slightest bit more quality. However, for Bayern, if they want to ensure they reclaim the Meisterschale improvements will need to be seen sooner rather than later on the pitch. If not, then big decisions will have to be made off the pitch as to who will be wearing Bayern red next season.
Hoffenheim show desire and competence
Prior to kick-off it would not have been totally unreasonable to imagine Hoffenheim returning to Sinsheim with all three points. During the week Bayern capitulated away at Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, while their last home game saw them eliminated from the DFB-Pokal by Freiburg. Whereas, Pellegrino Matarazzo’s were on a three game winning run, threatening to steer far away from the sides below them in the table. The first-half would have offered hope to the Hoffenheim head coach, who saw his game plan nearly executed to perfection. However, a Gnabry miss-hit provided Benjamin Pavard with a glorious chance to open the scoring which he gladly accepted.
However, other than the Bayern goal, Hoffenheim defended the record champions with relative ease forcing them out wide with their compact defending. They would come out the second-half on top and looked to send the drama at Bayern off the scale with a goal that would have undoubtedly turned the Bayern fans against their side. With chance after chance going begging, Andrej Kramarić finally found the much deserved goal when he curled an exquisite free kick past Yann Sommer. This performance proved the desire and competence that is within this Hoffenheim side, which many of the clubs below them cannot claim to possess.
Should Bayern keep Benjamin Pavard
Benjamin Pavard’s time in Bavaria has been littered with ups and downs. This has seen him be linked with moves away from Bayern for over a year now and while at one point an exit seemed the only possibility, an extended stay at the club may be the best for both parties. Despite finding a knack of scoring goals this season, it will not just be for his attacking instincts that the record champions will want to ensure the French international is still at the Allianz Arena next year. Pavard offers Thomas Tuchel an outstanding quality that his defensive partners cannot; he is a significantly consistent performer. In recent games, Bayern have been the masters of their own downfall with mistakes from Dayot Upamecano and Alphonso Davies becoming an all too regular occurrence.
On top of this, while Matthijs de Ligt has proved to be more reliable in central defence than Upamecano, he too has failed to display why he should be a regular starter in this Bayern backline. De Ligt and Upamecano do not complement each other and the uncertainty in their on field relationship can be felt through the whole side. Nevertheless, Pavard is not a commanding defender, and he will not be the man to sort out Bayern’s defensive problems.
However, the Frenchman is currently the only one that can claim any kind of consistency without imploding on the pitch causing chaos for those around him. With the versatility he has of being able to cover the whole backline, he is the squad player that Bayern desperately need. If they are looking to offload anyone in defence, fingers should point elsewhere, as it is players like him that will help rather than hinder the Rekordmeister.
GGFN | Will Shopland