Champions League: What the Bundesliga clubs can learn from Matchday 2 | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 03.10.2019
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Champions League: What the Bundesliga clubs can learn from Matchday 2

The second matchday of the Champions League witnessed a Bayern Munich attacking masterclass in London and a defensive capitulation from RB Leipzig. Here’s what each Bundesliga club can take from their game.

Defensive woes haunt RB Leipzig

When Julian Nagelsmann arrived in Leipzig he was already blessed with a rock-solid defense. In goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi they boast arguably the most improved player in the Bundesliga over the last few years and the club recorded the league's best defensive record in 2018-19. Willi Orban, Ibrahima Konate and Dayot Upamecano were the core of a backline which conceded just 29 goals in 34 matches.

But that's come crashing down in recent weeks. After conceding three against Schalke last weekend, they backed that up with a calamitous 2-0 defeat by Lyon. What could first have been covered up as a blip is now looking like a problem for Nagelsmann.

The highly-rated 32-year-old had found initial success in implementing a three-man backline. But all three of his defenders against Lyon - Konate, Upamecano and Nordi Mukiele - were caught out with alarmingly high frequency.

The first goal was down to Konate's poor clearance, while Upamecano and Mukiele combined to gift Lyon the killer second goal. Timo Werner shouldn't remain blameless, having missed two great opportunities in the first half, but the defensive issues are so uncharacteristic that it must be concerning for Nagelsmann.

Bayern send a message to Europe

The Bavarian giants have won six Bundesliga titles and three German Cups since 2013, but a sixth Champions League trophy has eluded them in recent years.

Despite hiring two supposed European specialists in Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti, the prestigious tournament has been out of reach – unacceptable for a club with such proud history.

But could it be that the more inexperienced and unheralded Niko Kovac is the man to actually end the drought? The 7-2 victory over Tottenham will certainly have their opponents taking notice. Philippe Coutinho has added a spark of creativity and unpredictability to a squad already boasting the world's most in-form striker, Robert Lewandowski, and an electrifying support cast of Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman.

Manuel Neuer looks back to his best after injuries and heavy spending has reinforced the defense in front of him. Could this be the year Bayern finally remerge as a European powerhouse?

BVB struggling to replace Alcacer

Fußball Bundesliga Borussia Dortmund - Werder Bremen (Reuters/L. Kuegeler)

Dortmund missed Paco Alcacer despite defeating Slavia Prague.

Dortmund did enough against Slavia Prague to claim a 2-0 victory and remain unbeaten in their Champions League campaign, but it wasn't all smooth sailing.

Without injured frontman Paco Alcacer, coach Lucien Favre was forced to not only juggle his starting lineup but also to divert from his favored tactics. Julian Brandt and Marco Reus alternated as the focal point of attack and it resulted in a pretty disjointed offensive performance.

Dortmund had to rely on makeshift attacker Achraf Hakimi (normally a defender) to get the job done with two beautifully taken goals. Without the Morocco international's exploits, and the heroics of Roman Bürki in goal, the match could have seen a different result.

It not only highlights Alcacer's importance to Favre's system but also the short-sightedness of Dortmund's transfer activities. Forwards Alexander Isak and Maximilian Philipp were allowed to depart without any replacements, leaving Alcacer as the only out-and-out No.9.

Favre will be praying Alcacer isn't out with his Achilles problem for too long, otherwise he'll have to find a better solution to replace the Spanish marksman. While Mario Götze has sometimes filled in, shoving Brandt and Reus into unfamiliar territory does not look like the answer.

Champions League Juventus Turin - Bayer Leverkusen (Reuters/M. Pinca)

Leverkusen players look dejected after 3-0 loss to Juventus

Leverkusen must sharpen up

"It's not good enough. Maybe it's good enough for the Bundesliga, but not at international level,” lamented a riled up Lukas Hradecky following Leverkusen's 3-0 loss to Juventus.

"We lack the necessary maturity and conviction against such opponents. Juve were miles ahead of us and obviously we can't compete with such teams,” continued the goalkeeper.

Leverkusen weren't out-fought and they weren't dominated in possession. Indeed, they had played a decent first half and were perhaps unfortunate to go into the break 1-0 down.

But in those crucial moments, they went missing, while Juventus' experience shone through as the match descended into a clash between boys and men in the second half. The Old Lady never looked truly troubled and went through the motions to dispatch their opponents.

For a coach who values attacking football, Peter Bosz has now overseen three matches against top-quality opponents (Juve, Dortmund, Hoffenheim) amassing a grand total of zero goals. 

The answers will be difficult to uncover. An over-reliance on Kai Havertz has carried over from last season, when he scored 17 goals, and Bosz needs more of his other talents in midfield to step up.

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