Defensive errors and lapse in concentration: Thomas Tuchel’s Bayern Munich fall short once again

Thomas Tuchel. Source: X

Thomas Tuchel and his Bayern Munich side will be hoping for a miracle as they head to the Spanish capital next week for the second leg of the UCL semi-final against Real Madrid, following a dramatic 2-2 draw at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday. Trailing 1-0 at halftime, Bayern made a commendable comeback in the second half, finding the net twice within four minutes. However, they couldn’t hold their lead till the final whistle as Kim Min Jae’s horrendous mistake inside the box cost them dearly. Vinicius, who opened the scoring for the visitors, completed his brace from the spot kick to ensure that Real Madrid heads to the Santiago Bernabeu with a scoreline of 2-2.

Disappointment was evident on Tuchel’s face after the game, as he commented, “We were a bit naive in defending. It feels a little bit like a loss…If they had scored a fantastic goal, you could digest it a little bit better, but giving away a penalty like this hurts a lot.”

Having squandered title hopes in all other competitions, Bayern now pin its hopes on the Champions League. However, producing an extraordinary performance in Madrid seems a daunting task, potentially resulting in Bayern’s first trophy-less season since 2011/12.

The disappointing display against Real Madrid is not new for Bayern under Tuchel’s tutelage. They have succumbed to lower-ranked teams like Heidenheim and Bochum in the Bundesliga, leading to their first failure to clinch the league title in 11 years. From injury woes to failing to find the right playing XI and constant defensive vulnerabilities, Bayern’s ongoing season has been marred by significant challenges.

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Against Madrid, it was a forgettable 90 minutes for Kim Min Jae. Though Toni Kroos provided an extraordinary assist, splitting the defense open, Bayern defender Kim Min Jae could have been more alert in marking Vinicius. His silly mistake led to a penalty in the ultimate quarter of the game. Though Kim didn’t start against Arsenal, he got the opportunity due to the unavailability of both Dayot Upamecano and Matthijs de Ligt. Additionally, the Korean defender, who had an incredible stint with Napoli, is yet to replicate his form since joining Bayern last summer.

Tuchel’s tenure at Bayern has been marred by a string of injuries, disrupting lineup consistency. From Neuer’s early setback to Coman’s MCL injury, key players like Gnabry and Kimmich have faced spells on the sidelines. In their recent match against Real Madrid, they were without their two towering defenders, Upamecano and de Ligt. Despite Tuchel’s tactical prowess, navigating through this injury crisis remains a challenge, and it has somewhat affected the team’s performances on the field.

Apart from defensive vulnerabilities and injury woes, Tuchel has struggled to find a proper No. 6 despite having Joshua Kimmich in the squad, who has excelled in that position for years. Tuchel’s quest for a defensive midfielder has left Kimmich and Leon Goretzka feeling undervalued, straining relations. The failed bid for Joao Palhinha forced reliance on existing options, affecting morale. Feeling inadequate for Tuchel’s vision could isolate them further, highlighting the delicate balance between managerial strategy and player confidence.

Bayern’s recent signing of Sacha Boey as a right-back under Tuchel’s direction has raised eyebrows, given the loaning out of Josip Stanisic to Leverkusen. Stanisic, a product of Bayern’s youth system, may not be world-class but has impressed for Leverkusen.

Tuchel’s managerial stints at Chelsea, PSG, and Dortmund have been marked by brief tenures and strained relationships. Despite winning the Champions League with Chelsea, he was sacked within 20 months, reportedly due to conflicts over recruitment and player support. At PSG, his tactical decisions were questioned, leading to a fractured relationship with the club’s hierarchy. His time at Dortmund ended abruptly after clashes with executives and staff, culminating in his dismissal despite winning the DFB Pokal. Across all three clubs, Tuchel’s inability to foster strong relationships has raised concerns about his long-term suitability as a manager.

In Bayern, the Tuchel story has been much the same. Now, as the manager set to leave the club at the end of the season, can he guide his boys to ultimate silverware in Europe’s premier competition? Though challenging, it’s certainly within reach.

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