After about 60 minutes, football became mathematics again. There was once an official at FC Bayern who denied this fact to his coach, which later cost coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, a mathematician, his job. But the Bundesliga game that FC Bayern played against the VfB Stuttgart graduated, should relieve Hitzfeld: After a good hour of play, you could clearly see both coaches doing arithmetic. Both apparently dealt with the same numbers (a two and a one), and their methods of calculation must have been similar.
Julian Nagelsmann, FC Bayern coach, thought to himself: Do I now secure this 2-1 and give a few top performers a few minutes' break before the Barcelona game on Tuesday? Or should we go all out for 3:1? Pellegrino Matarazzo, the colleague from Stuttgart, had to deal with the following question: is it okay to lose 2-1 here and not ruin our goal difference, like others have done against Bayern? Or do we dare to increase to 2:2, in danger of taking too many risks and battering our goal difference?
Nagelsmann decided to take Thomas Müller off the field and bring on Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting. He also decided to rest a little more on Sadio Mané on the bench. And before that he had already decided to bring in number two right-back Noussair Mazraoui for number three right-back Josip Stanisic. The number one in this position, Benjamin Pavard, stayed out. Matarazzo came up with a different solution. He replaced defensive midfielder Wataru Endo with attacking midfielder Lilian Egloff.
Thomas Müller is angry - and indirectly criticizes his colleagues
No, Pavard probably wouldn't have decided the game for Bayern and Stanisic was no more to blame than Choupo-Moting. But because football was tough math that night, the result made Nagelsmann's calculation look wrong in the end. His Bavarians neither secured the 2:1 nor did they go to 3:1. In added time, Stuttgart's confident striker Serhou Guirassy converted a penalty to make it 2-2. Lilian Egloff had prepared the goal chance before the penalty.
"Today I'm angry for the first time - at ourselves," Thomas Müller grumbled in front of the Sky microphone after the game. Every player must "take a good look at your own nose, I think we have to understand: if we want to win every game, you have to go to the end and stay bilious to the end". That's why he has "a nice tie today," said Müller, which was in no way to be understood as a fashion statement. And sports director Hasan Salihamidzic also sounded extremely displeased when he said: "That was not enough today. We have to shift up two gears, three for Barcelona."
This is one reading of the story: After the third league draw in a row, it is not about the basic professional attitude of the Bayern professionals, which banal interpreters will now criticize in proven reflexiveness. Nevertheless, the measuring devices that determine body tension occasionally show a few volts too little for Bayern - especially in those games in which there is not a trophy to be won directly or at least the Champions League anthem is played. It is important to be aware of the current points situation in the Bundesliga to develop, demanded Müller, "English weeks and highlight games back and forth". A few carelessnesses here, a few carelessnesses there - and Alphonso Davies slips out a sloppy pass to Jamal Musiala, or Serge Gnabry flicks a little too much.
The first situation led to Stuttgart's 1:1 through Chris Führich (57th), after Konstantinos Mavropanos had taken the sloppily played ball from poor Musiala. In the second situation, Gnabry missed a possible 3-1 lead in front of VfB goalkeeper Florian Müller after Musiala had made it 2-1 shortly before (60').
17-year-old Mathys Tel is now the youngest Bayern shooter in history
After this completely unnecessary and at the same time quite justified draw, there will be a small player debate at FC Bayern, at least with the pleasant side aspect that striker Mathys Tel garnished his starting eleven debut in the league with a routine goal to make it 1-0 (for mathematicians : at 17 years and 136 days he is the youngest Bayern shooter in history). Part of that debate will be the gloriously unanswerable question of whether it would all have happened to Robert Lewandowski, who sometimes flicks when he's free in front of goalies, but mostly flat into the Goal. Salihamidzic was also clear there: "Lewa uses every opportunity up front. We have been warned."
In this situation, it is probably very practical that Bayern meet FC Barcelona on Tuesday evening. The Champions League anthem will sound again and all of this combined will be loud enough to drown out another question. Whether the coach Nagelsmann sent the wrong signal with the substitution of Müller and the substitution of the third guard on Saturday afternoon - against a VfB that still seemed defensive enough to force this one missing goal after all. Before that, the VAR, who was still in the form crisis, had already stolen a goal from VfB through Guirassy (51st), so the Munich team had been sufficiently warned. But because players have a keen sense of personal details, these substitutions should not have seemed like an invitation to attack.
It's not easy for coaches to oversee a sandwich game like the one against Stuttgart, sandwiched between games against Inter Milan and FC Barcelona. If football weren't mathematics, one could say that Bayern and their coach solved the task quite professionally right up until injury time, or, in the words of Thomas Müller: "The game wasn't a masterpiece, but it was absolutely fine."
After the 2:2 the game wasn't okay anymore and the draw must have felt like a defeat, especially for the coach. Very demonstratively, Nagelsmann had put his players under pressure before the Stuttgart game and threatened a place in the bank if his demand was not met: Anyone who applied the handbrake against VfB, said Nagelsmann, could "put the parking brake in" against Barcelona.
That's the second reading of this Bundesliga game: the players did listen to their coach somehow, but not for the full 92 minutes. The Stuttgart coach Pellegrino Matarazzo, by the way, is a mathematician.