“We don’t have to change everything,” Julian Nagelsmann said before the encounter with Bayer Leverkusen, and this statement on strategy can now be interpreted as you like: The FC Bayern coach is too proud to admit that his methodology of improvement needs and he is too stubborn to adapt his approach to the situation. Or he’s right.
A beautiful feature of the game of soccer is that opposite interpretations of the same thing can be equally true. After FC Bayern four times in a row in the Bundesliga did not win – a failure of almost historic proportions – commentators across the country agree that head coach Nagelsmann cannot continue as before. This point of view is plausible because of the effects of the poor results on the club and its staff who are used to success, but it is just as legitimate to ask Nagelsmann not to change anything in the football game of his team.
According to the findings of the Cologne-based analysis company Impect, FC Bayern has achieved an impossibility when they managed not to emerge victorious from any of the games against Borussia Mönchengladbach, Union Berlin, VfB Stuttgart and FC Augsburg. Based on the data collected by Impect during the games, the probability that Munich won none of the four games was a ratio of 1:333. In terms of soccer mathematics, says Impect boss Stefan Reinartz, Munich’s miserable results are based “ten percent on a drop in performance and ninety percent on variance”. Variance means deviation from the mean. You can also say: coincidence.
Impect, founded in 2015 by the Leverkusen soccer pros Reinartz and Jens Hegeler, first became known for a new explanation technique that summarized constructive passing in meaningful numbers under the term “packing”. In the meantime, the scouting company, which supplies more than 40 professional clubs with data in Germany, England, Holland and Belgium, among other places, has expanded its analysis repertoire in many ways.
Bayern had enough chances to win in Gladbach. But Borussia had Yann Sommer
Just like in the game against Borussia Mönchengladbach (1:1), the least controversial appearance of the so-called winless Bayern: All data collected by Reinartz’ employees speak for a home win of the German champions. With their attacks, the Munich team got into the exciting spaces in and around the Gladbach penalty area and they created so many clear chances that it should have been enough for at least four goals. According to the data analysis, even the quality of the conclusion was really good. But Yann Sommer was just better. Mönchengladbach’s Swiss goalkeeper personified the variance factor by repelling even the most difficult shots. Of the four games, there was only one that produced a fair result according to the data: At 1-1 in Berlin, the Union successfully blocked the Munich express football. According to the laboratory test, a 0-1 draw in Augsburg would have shown the course of the game correctly.
If you follow the numbers, Bayern are still the best in the Bundesliga. When it comes to outplaying (“packing”) opponents on the field, they have far outperformed the rest in seven games this season with a 400 stat. Werder Bremen follows in second place (308), Borussia Dortmund in third (291). Bayern are also clearly ahead in the significantly important category of “outplayed defenders”, as well as in the approach to the opponent’s goal and in the production of first-class scoring chances. But in the table they are fifth.
However, Stefan Reinartz does not want to be bossy: Results, he says, are causally linked to performance, but performance may also causally reflect the results. When a man like Thomas Müller publicly doubts, then, according to Reinartz, “the traditional narrative of the crisis begins to take effect”.