Not every team wins 4-0 in Berlin! Flick lauds Bayern for ruthless display

By Sports Desk January 19, 2020

Bayern Munich boss Hansi Flick praised his players for turning on the style in the second half to see off Hertha Berlin 4-0 at the Olympiastadion.

The reigning Bundesliga champions scored four goals in the final half-hour of Sunday's match to climb into second place, four points behind RB Leipzig.

Thomas Muller opened the scoring and Robert Lewandowski added a second from the penalty spot to pave the way for an ultimately emphatic win.

Thiago Alcantara and Ivan Perisic were also on target as Bayern made it four league wins in a row and back-to-back away victories in the competition for the first time since March.

Flick was pleased to begin the second half of the campaign with all three points against a Hertha side that had not conceded in their past three outings.

"A four-nil win – not every team in Berlin can do that!" he said at his post-match news conference. 

"I think we deservedly won. In the first game after the [mid-season] break, with such a short preparation, it is not always so easy to know where you are. 

"So, it was great for us that we started the second half of the season with such a result."

Muller scored the all-important breakthrough goal and, in the process, became the first player to net every calendar year in the German top flight since 2009.

The Germany international, who also set up Perisic to make it 12 league assists for the campaign to go with his three goals, told Sky Sport Germany: "We made them tired.

"The gaps got bigger in the second half. In my opinion, we played too patiently in the first half. We didn't play bad, but we weren't really that dangerous.

"We let Hertha play in the first half, but in the second half we kept going."

Hertha boss Jurgen Klinsmann, who spent a season in charge of Bayern in 2008-09, claimed the game turned on the 72nd-minute penalty awarded to Bayern.

Lukas Klunter was adjudged to have pulled back on Leon Goretzka inside the box with the scoreline at 1-0 and Lewandowski made no mistake from the spot.

Hertha's first loss in five outings leaves them two points above the bottom two zone and Klinsmann told reporters: "Four goals is a bit much. I think we played well for an hour.

"We had two or three chances in the first half. Then the first goal comes, but I think the sticking point was certainly the penalty – it broke us a little.

"We have to get points against the teams that are around us in the lower half of the table."

Related items

  • Adelaide United 0-0 Wellington Phoenix: Ryan shows Strain in A-League stalemate Adelaide United 0-0 Wellington Phoenix: Ryan shows Strain in A-League stalemate

    Adelaide United continue to lose ground on A-League leaders Melbourne City following a 0-0 draw with Wellington Phoenix.

    The hosts saw Ryan Strain sent off 16 minutes from time to dampen hopes of a late rally, with Carl Veart's men winless in four.

    Adelaide are now six points behind City and have played a game more, with a trip to Melbourne to face their rivals next on the agenda.

    Having been held to a goalless draw last time out against Western United, Adelaide started brightly and Stefan Mauk should have capitalised on Josh Cavallo's fine delivery, but instead miscontrolled when well placed.

    Tomi Juric saw a strong header saved smartly by Oliver Sail as the home side pressed, but after a blank first half ambition had to take a back seat when Strain got his marching orders for a second yellow card after he kicked the ball away.

  • Lukaku: Ibrahimovic is good for Serie A Lukaku: Ibrahimovic is good for Serie A

    Romelu Lukaku believes Zlatan Ibrahimovic has helped to raise the level of Serie A and is not dwelling on their heated clash earlier this season.

    Lukaku had to be dragged away from Ibrahimovic after the Milan striker apparently insulted his mother during January's Coppa Italia derby.

    The Belgium striker equalised from the penalty spot in a 2-1 win for Inter, while the Sweden veteran was sent off.

    Ibrahimovic denied allegations of racially abusing Lukaku during the spat and, after inspiring Inter to a valedictory Scudetto triumph, the younger man seemed to have no intention of retaining any ill-feeling towards his former Manchester United team-mate.

    "We were losing 1-0, I missed a goal, I was a bit angry," he told Corriere Della Sera.

    "His words struck me. I'm not happy with having reacted like that but don't let myself get pushed around. 

    "I am humble and calm, I am a winner and I fight to death for my team-mates and for the victory."

    Lukaku looks likely to fall short in this season's Capocannoniere race as he sits on 21 goals behind Cristiano Ronaldo on 27.

    Ibrahimovic has 15, although his haul comes from 18 appearances, compared to 33 for Lukaku, giving him a superior minutes-per-goal rate (95.47 v 127.29).

    Lukaku feels Ibrahimovic and Ronaldo plying their trade in Serie A only adds to the division's appeal, with Jose Mourinho's appointment as Roma head coach this week providing similar lustre.

     

    "[Ibrahimovic is] a great player, he has won wherever he has played, he has scored more than 500 goals," he said.

    "We need players of this level in Serie A. He wants to win for himself, me for Inter, Ronaldo for Juve, now there is Mourinho at Roma.

    "They are all good things for Italy. The level is raised, let's hope Inter win again [next season]."

    Although ending Juventus' decade of dominance in Italy was joyously celebrated by Inter and their fans, Lukaku conceded there are pangs of regret of Antonio Conte's men bowing out at the group stage of the Champions League this season.

    Real Madrid and Borussia Monchengladbach progressed out of a tough round-robin section that also featured Inter and Shakhtar Donetsk.

    "Leaving in the group stage was a great disappointment, we should have qualified in that group," he added.

    "Real Madrid are strong, but we were better than the other two.  Next year we have to overcome the group, then anything can happen."

  • Sevilla's unlikely LaLiga title challenge: The key men Sevilla's unlikely LaLiga title challenge: The key men

    When Sevilla defeated Inter in their gripping Europa League final clash last August, there was a sense of deja vu for Los Nervionenses. Not only because they were winning that trophy for the sixth time, but also that talk quickly turned to "the next step".

    Sevilla had been here before: Their back-to-back UEFA Cup successes under Juande Ramos were supposed to transform them into a new power in Spanish football, but it didn't quite happen.

    Then the Europa League three-peat with Unai Emery was supposed to elevate them, but in the 13 months that followed the hat-trick-clinching win over Liverpool, Sevilla lost two coaches (Emery and his popular successor Jorge Sampaoli), revered sporting director Monchi and some of their best players.

    Monchi returned in 2019 following a well-publicised split with Roma, his reputation having taken a significant hit. The damage has been impressively repaired, however, building a Europa League-winning squad straight away and appointing Julen Lopetegui, the man who got them back into the Champions League.

    Looking back, his hiring of Lopetegui was a bold one. Here were two men, both of whom had taken significant flak in their previous jobs, with their own points to prove.

    Regardless of Monday's shock home defeat to Athletic Bilbao, it's arguable that Sevilla have already taken "the next step" that Monchi spoke about 15 months ago. Never before in a 20-team LaLiga season had only three points separated top from fourth with five games to go, yet Sevilla were one of them.

    A draw between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona coupled with a Sevilla win over Real Madrid the following day could yet see Lopetegui's side get themselves back in the hunt for the title. Even if they don't, 2020-21 has proven Monchi still knows how to find a player and a coach.


    Thinking From the Back

    Lopetegui came in with his own ideas. Many Sevilla teams over the past 20 years have been exciting to watch with an attacking brand of football. This team are arguably not one of them.

    The first thing regular watchers of Lopetegui's Sevilla will say when summarising this team's style of play is that they're not exactly LaLiga's great entertainers. In fact, the 34 matches they've played this term have yielded just 76 goals. Only Osasuna, rock-bottom Eibar (both 72) and Getafe (66) have been party to fewer.

     

    Key to this is Sevilla's effective defence, which has conceded only 27 times. Atletico (22) and Real Madrid (24) are the two sides with better records. And looking at expected goals conceded in the table above shows that Sevilla's defence is the most miserly in LaLiga. Diego Carlos and Jules Kounde have proven a hugely successful pairing at the base of the defence for well over a year now, but while it was the Brazilian attracting more of the plaudits last term, it's his young colleague who is capturing the imagination in 2020-21.

    While he may not look it when standing next to the supreme physical specimen that is Diego Carlos, Kounde is an impressive competitor in the air. At just 5-foot-8 he has a great spring and his 93 successful aerial duels is bettered by only three other defenders this term.

    But given Sevilla generally spend more time on the ball than their opponents, it's Kounde's progressiveness in possession that helps him stand out the most. Lopetegui's flexible 4-3-3 formation often morphs into more of a 3-4-3 as Fernando drops back, and this allows Kounde to push out from the back, in what has become a key aspect of their system.

    The Frenchman makes his influence known in two ways. Firstly, he's attempted more forward passes (801) than any other outfield player in LaLiga, and only central midfielder Dani Parejo (624) can better his 623 successful ones.

    This speaks to Kounde's positive nature when in possession and his contribution to Sevilla's attack can be highlighted by our sequences framework. Of all centre-backs in the league, only Clement Lenglet (108) has been involved in more open-play sequences that have resulted in a shot than Kounde's 88. Team-mate Diego Carlos is fourth on the list with 73.

     

    This forward-thinking approach is aided by Kounde's extreme comfort on the ball. His 12 ball carries (dribbling with the ball for five metres or more) followed by a take-on is third best among centre-backs, and just three other central defenders have carried the ball further up-field across the season than him (5,532 metres).

    The confidence of Kounde – and Diego Carlos – on the ball helps explain why Sevilla's 396 pressed sequences against (instances where they have three or fewer passes and the move ends within 40m of their own goal) is the fifth-lowest in LaLiga, while they are the only team not to concede a goal as a result of a high turnover by the opposition.

     

    Sevilla are very effective at playing through a press, best demonstrated by their remarkable 37-pass goal against Valencia in the Copa del Rey in January, and Kounde is essential to that, operating as a kind of defensive playmaker in the backline.

     

    While they managed to keep hold of him despite interest from Manchester City last year, they might struggle to shoo away potential suitors this time around.

    Filling the Void

    The one area where Sevilla have perhaps been weaker in 2020-21 than 2019-20 is in midfield. Losing Ever Banega was always going to be a blow, but replacing him has proven especially difficult.

    Ivan Rakitic received something of a hero's welcome as he returned from Barcelona and, perhaps through nostalgia-tinted glasses, was billed as Banega's initial replacement with Oscar Rodriguez seen as the long-term heir.

    While Oscar has hardly featured, Rakitic has at least been a fairly regular part of the team, often filling the third midfield spot alongside the first-choice pair of Fernando and Joan Jordan.

    But despite his adulation, Rakitic's influence simply hasn't been anything like that of Banega, who offered far more across the board last season than the Croatian has at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in 2020-21.

    Instead, it's been Jordan who has courted praise after kicking on from an encouraging first campaign at the club. The fact he’s now seemingly in the thoughts of Spain coach Luis Enrique speaks volumes about his progression this year.

    A dynamic midfielder, Jordan sets the tempo for Sevilla but also contributes off the ball in a role not too dissimilar to that of Koke at Atletico Madrid, who is only of only six midfielders to have completed more passes than the former Eibar man (2,161).

    His 1.97 tackles per 90 may not be remarkable, but among midfielders with at least 15 appearances, it is above the average of 1.65. Tackle numbers are always likely to be lower for players of teams who tend to see more of the ball anyway, but it proves Jordan is by no means only of use on the ball.

    That is, however, when he's at his most comfortable. Granted, he has on occasion been accused of being a sideways-pass merchant, perhaps explaining why as many as 11 central midfielders have been involved in shot-ending sequences with a better cumulative xG value than Jordan (10.4).

    However, this is likely down to how Sevilla's midfield trio all sit quite deep rather than any inherent lack of creativity. After all, Jordan has played a role in 10 shot-ending sequences where he has both created a chance and been involved in the build-up, behind only Frenkie de Jong, Luka Modric, Pedri and Toni Kroos.

    He may not be the flashiest of midfielders, but Jordan has proven himself effective and clearly has the trust of both Lopetegui and the rest of the squad.

    While replacing Banega will probably be on the agenda for Monchi again at the end of the season, Jordan's shown he could be worth a shot in a more advanced position.


    En-Nesyri Defying the Doubters

    When Sevilla shelled out roughly €20 million in January 2020 on a striker who had scored just 18 LaLiga goals in his first 77 matches, it's fair to say eyebrows were raised.

    Although only 22 at the time, it felt as though Youssef En-Nesyri had already been around for quite a while, but he'd rarely stood out as a particularly outstanding player. Hard-working, sure, but a Champions League-level striker? There were many who had their doubts.

    Rather gangly, just as likely to trip himself up as he was to beat his man, the Moroccan scored four goals in his 18 league appearances last term following his mid-season move and he failed to truly dislodge Luuk de Jong, who was widely derided until his Europa League final heroics.

    But En-Nesyri has proved a lot of people wrong this season, his haul of 17 league goals so far is the same as his total for the previous two campaigns combined.

    Even more impressive is the fact none of them have come from the penalty spot.

     

    He really has led the line in excellent fashion, and his non-penalty xG of 15.1 is the third highest in LaLiga, suggesting he is frequently getting into high-quality scoring locations. When he does get those opportunities, the Sevilla striker is putting them away. Of players to have scored at least 10 goals this season, his 24.3 per cent shot conversion rate is a record that only Marcos Llorente can better.

     

    Playing consistently alongside better players and in a system that seems to accentuate his pace and aerial strength is seemingly paying off. And it's in the air where he really comes into his own, which marries up well with Sevilla's most regular source of chances.

    Jesus Navas may not be to everyone's liking, but he's been reborn as a right-back for Lopetegui, getting himself back into the Spain squad when his career looked to be petering out upon returning from Manchester City in 2017-18.

    Navas has created 59 chances from open play this season – the highest number of any player. Only twice before in La Liga has he managed more over a full season, back in 2011-12 and 2012-13 when he played exclusively as a winger.

    Navas' bombing forward from right-back – aided by Kounde's effective covering behind – is a key facet of Lopetegui's system. He's attempted (160), and completed (52), the most open-play crosses in LaLiga. Similarly, his 32.5 per cent crossing accuracy is better than anyone else to have attempted at least 50.

    This is where En-Nesyri's aerial strength comes in. He's only behind Rafa Mir (13) for headed shots on target, while Karim Benzema (six) is the only player with more headed goals than the Sevilla striker (five).

    It remains to be seen how much more En-Nesyri has to give, and the same can be said generally for Sevilla, with their 1-0 loss to Athletic raising questions of their ability to break down stubborn opposition.

    Ahead of Sunday's trip to Madrid, our AI predictor gives them a minuscule 0.1 per cent chance of upsetting the established order and clinching their first LaLiga title since the 1940s.

    But Madrid aren't going to set themselves up to nullify Sevilla, they need the win too and will surely look to put as much pressure on their visitors as possible.

    But with capable ball players such as Kounde and Jordan in the side looking to break the lines, such a situation could be conducive to giving En-Nesyri, Lucas Ocampos and Papu Gomez space on the break.

    Sevilla couldn't, could they?

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.