Dhe game was over long ago and only TSG Hoffenheim was in a really good mood. The team let themselves be celebrated by the small crowd of fans who had traveled with them for the 1-1 draw against FC Bayern when it got loud on the other side of the arena. The result of the Borussia Dortmund game had just been announced, the 3:3 in Stuttgart, which the Bavarians applauded. The players had already disappeared into the dressing room.
Although the draw has no consequences in the Bundesliga table, the two-point lead remains, the news at Bayern was not good as a mood lifter. “We missed everything,” said coach Thomas Tuchel. “Today was the moment to step it up, win with might and main and light the fire. And we didn’t succeed at all. Our game was only good in very, very few sequences.”
The game against Hoffenheim was not isolated, but between what had happened in the past few days, this “blatant incident”, as Tuchel called Sadio Mané’s fisticuffs in the Bayern dressing room, the 0-3 defeat at Manchester City , and the Wednesday (9 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the Champions League and on DAZN), on which the Munich team want to do what seems impossible. But the performance against Hoffenheim did not necessarily fuel the hope that Bayern’s Champions League season would be extended into the semi-finals. “We played without energy,” admitted Joshua Kimmich self-critically.
There wasn’t much of a “cleansing effect” that Tuchel hoped for from the cabin brawl and the subsequent work-up. On the contrary: FC Bayern, who have only won two of the last six competitive games, seemed unsettled against the generally harmless Hoffenheim team. “It’s a big step backwards in terms of performance, of conviction,” says Tuchel. After the win in Freiburg and the first 70 minutes in Manchester, in which the Bayern coach saw his team on an equal footing with the English three days and a few video studies later, the performance against Hoffenheim was “extremely surprising”.
His goal was “to score as many goals as possible and not concede any”. Neither the one nor the other had succeeded in Manchester. And on Saturday they had to settle for one goal. The fact that a defender scored in Benjamin Pavard, while the offensive players once again had no luck, is one of Bayern’s big problems at this stage of the season.
Tuchel still had to do without Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting – and thus without a striker. Since the young Mathis Tel has just recovered from a muscle injury and was not yet a candidate for the starting eleven, Mané had been suspended for this game, and Thomas Müller, according to Tuchel, sees “a line behind” in better hands, only Serge Gnabry remained again. The German national player acted more conspicuously than in Manchester, was more present, more active, but he is just as little the solution to the center forward problem as Tel.
In the uneventful first half, Bayern dominated, but rarely found gaps in the opponent’s tight defense. The opening goal was not the result of a nice play either, but came after a corner and a prevented low shot by Kingsley Coman, which ended up at Pavard. The Frenchman shot the ball into the goal from close range (17th minute). The 1-0 was not a liberation, however, the attacking efforts remained cramped and were rarely played to the end convincingly. “Too little pace, not enough pace changes,” noted Tuchel.
After the break, Hoffenheim, who had been harmless until then, became a little braver. “There was a completely different energy on the pitch,” said TSG coach Pellegrino Matarazzo. That provided a little more space for Bayern, but also more work in front of their own goal. But Hoffenheim needed a set piece to get back in the game, a clever free-kick being saved by Andrej Kramaric against Müller 20 yards from goal. Kramaric placed the ball himself and shot well into the left corner, but the ball didn’t seem entirely unstoppable for Munich goalkeeper Yann Sommer (71′).
The equalizer didn’t impress Bayern, they tried everything and had good chances, including an offside goal by Pavard. But either they didn’t hit the ball properly in front of the goal or Hoffenheim were able to clear it at the last moment. A day almost to forget, except for the Borussia Dortmund result.