Bayern Munich’s lack of progress under Julian Nagelsmann highlighted in Villarreal defeat

Julian Nagelsmann had big – no, colossal – boots to fill when he arrived at Bayern Munich at the start of the season.

Hansi Flick, who claimed seven titles in his 18 months at the helm of the German giants, was the man he succeeded. To be fair, serious improvements would never materialize, simply because you can’t improve on perfection.

But, since Nagelsmann’s arrival at the club, the only steps Die Rekordmeister have taken on the pitch are backwards. And that was made clear with a sensational Champions League performance from Villarreal on Wednesday night.

Unai Emery’s Yellow Submarine sank Bayern with a collective display that had it all; From a daring, regimented and selfless defensive diligence, to dynamic, fascinating and quick breakaway moves, Villarreal were too much for the team aiming for continental glory this season.

Flick’s Bayern consisted of utter ruthlessness throughout his reign; Nagelsmann’s Bayern have repeatedly fallen short of those standards since mid-December this campaign.

The departures of David Alaba and Jerome Boateng and Dayot Upamecano’s outdated drive for regularity in the first team seem to have been catalysts for defensive mistakes.

The Frenchman has metamorphosed from a precision-focused, rampaging rock at RB Leipzig to a wavering, error-prone, shaky mess at the heart of Bayern’s defensive line. Indeed, the 23-year-old was at fault when Dani Parejo was granted freedom from eastern Spain when his shot was deflected into Manuel Neuer’s net by a grateful Arnaut Danjuma.

It should be noted, however, that Benjamin Pavard (who was caught dozing and did not see the Dutchman at the far post) and Jamal Musiala (who was unable to track and follow Gerard Moreno’s run into the box) were also guilty in that sequence. fatal game.

That decisive goal in Villarreal’s 1-0 victory over Bayern on Wednesday was a symptom of what Die Roten has become as this campaign progresses; they have lost their unvarying alertness and killer instinct and have lost their reputation as indomitable beasts.

His new penchant for defensive messiness is usually rescued by his on-field divinity.

But, facing a perfectly trained, insatiably energetic and collectively compact defensive form like Villarreal on Wednesday night, they had no answer.

The typical electricity of Kingsley Coman had no end product, the elegance and wiry quality of Serge Gnabry was stifled by workhorses in yellow, the usually elusive Thomas Muller was managed to perfection in a crowded midfield, and Robert Lewandowski? Well, he might as well have stayed in Munich.

While Flick’s monstrous machine gave his opposition no choice but to succumb to his gleamingly ruthless magic, Nagelsmann’s men too often find no answer to sticky situations; this has been the case against Bochum, Salzburg, Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim and Villarreal in the space of their previous ten games in all competitions.

The young German trailblazer will inevitably secure the club’s tenth consecutive Meisterschale in May: their nine-point cushion at the top of the Bundesliga with six games remaining looks unassailable now, but their inability to get past major opponents and distinguish themselves (as they did under Flick) has stood out for an excellent performance by Villarreal on a magical night.

Until individual mistakes and 2D attacks fade from these crucial moments, Bayern are a long way from Champions League success under Nagelsmann.

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