Bayern has been handed their first defeat since the Champions League final in Munich. And, strangely enough, it has come at the hands of the minnows BATE. When Toni Kroos missed a golden opportunity he carved out in the first half, nobody would have suggested the fact that Bayern wouldn't create another brilliant opportunity for the rest of the night.
Amongst the lessons Bayern was handed was the one which caused them endless trouble last season—possession (and tonnes of corners) doesn't necessarily translate into goals. Chelsea showed the world that Bayern can be expected to self-destruct against an opponent which defends for 90 minutes. BATE, however, also counter-attacked extremely well, exposing the holes in the Bayern defence.
At the other end, just like at the weekend, Bayern had problems breaking down a compact side. BATE, with such easy victories in the Belarusian league, hasn't had to expend much energy. They defended unbelievably well with their amazing fans behind them in Minsk. Bayern's players could do with the defensive skills of BATE's players.
As the game progressed, one knew this would be one of those days in which Bayern would have to fight extremely hard to find the back of the net. Clear-cut opportunities were a rare sight. Franck Ribery did earn a goal back in the 91st minute, but to no avail. The players cannot be blamed for not trying—this just wasn't to be their night.
The BATE goalkeeper had a good day in the office too, by the way.
Starting with a pairing in defensive midfield which has never played together before was a gutsy and rather disrespectful move by Jupp Heynckes, despite the fact that BATE wasn't supposed to be a huge challenge. Luiz Gustavo and Javier Martinez were paired together. Martinez was simply not a 40-million Euro man today—he just hasn't been so until now.
BATE could have added two more if they wanted to. The game was similar to a match Bayern played against Borussia Monchengladbach last season. Suddenly, Bayern find themselves in a fight to get out of their group. They sit third on goal difference. Last season, Bayern was never even second in the standings. They topped their group from the first match-day till the last. However, defeats to minnows isn't something new for Bayern, considering they have lost to Basel (1-0) and Bordeaux (0-2 and 2-1) in recent memory.
The last season in which Bayern had group stage troubles was in 2009-10. Bordeaux beat them twice—as mentioned before—and later helped Bayern get out of their group by beating Juventus even though they didn't have to. Bayern got out of jail by beating Juventus on the final day. Shades of United's last campaign come into mind, with the difference being that this Bayern team is far more talented than that United team.
Suddenly, the doubleheader against Lille has become hugely important. Before that, Heynckes needs to find a way to fix the defence, rather than having the offence compensate for it. Firstly, Holger Badstuber is a good left-back, but not a natural one. He didn't have a good night at all. Dante and Jerome Boateng were pretty bad too.
Luiz Gustavo didn't do his job right. Out of the trio in attacking midfield, nobody was impressive. Thomas Müller perhaps had the worst night of the lot. Mario Mandzukic should perhaps have gone off earlier, with Müller playing as a false nine rather than Claudio Pizarro coming on. Today was the first time that the absences of David Alaba and Diego Contento were really noticeable.
Maybe even good old Arjen Robben could have helped out.
Last season, Bayern's unbeaten streak came to an end against Hanover. The circumstances were different because Bayern was beaten by a penalty and a deflection. They bounced back immediately. This is the second match in a row in which Bayern hasn't fared well. Matthias Sammer had rightfully criticized the team at the weekend. It will be interesting to hear what he has to say this time.
If one has to make excuses, one can talk about the poor pitch and the poor referee. I can remember three Kroos passes that hit him. The pitch was apparently flooded to slow down the play. However, Bayern knows that teams will park the bus against them- nobody and I mean nobody has the guts to come out and play possession based flowing football against Bayern because nobody seemingly can win that way.
It's time the excuses stop coming. It is time everyone shuts up and fixes the few messes that haven't been fixed for four seasons now. Wastefulness can't be an excuse when there are no clear-cut chances. Set-pieces should be banned in Bayern matches. Honestly, every ball that goes out of play in a Bayern match in Bayern's favour should be a throw or a goal-kick.
I don't remember Bayern exiting the competition in the group stages in the last decade, and so I would like some stats on that if anybody has anything to offer. Next up is Hoffenheim, a side that is reeling right now due to Boris Vukcevic's condition. After that, an international break arrives. Dusseldorf will be the opponent following the break, with Lille on the menu on 23 October.
Mark that date in your calendars, everyone—it could be a big one.