Julian Nagelsmann takes on his new challenge at Bayern without a title. Even if he is by no means the only culprit: After the clear 1: 4 bankruptcy in the DFB Cup final against Borussia Dortmund, the RB Leipzig coach cannot avoid criticism.
When Matthias Opdenhövel slipped into the role of mediator, Julian Nagelsmann was still in the mood for laughter. “Shall I organize his number for you?” He asked Sports show-Moderator the trainer from RB Leipzig, while he had a chat with expert Bastian Schweinsteiger before the cup final against BVB. Schweinsteiger, the original Bavarian, could at least give the future Munich coach one or two tips on the way.
Nagelsmann accepted the offer with thanks. He received the first tip during the live broadcast. “A couple of titles,” noted Schweinsteiger, “you have to win at FC Bayern – otherwise it’ll be a bit more difficult.” He was aware of that, replied Nagelsmann with a grin, and referred to the possibility of now being able to start collecting trophies.
Barely 45 minutes later it was clear: nothing will come of this. Nagelsmann’s first final went badly in the pants, his team was already 3-0 down at the break due to a completely desolate first half. Rarely has a DFB Cup final been decided so quickly because a finalist rarely made so many blatant individual mistakes as RB – and BVB punished them coldly.
Mistakes like midfield routinier Kevin Kampl, who let Marco Reus steal the ball as he moved forward, who then initiated Dortmund’s early lead by Jadon Sancho (5th minute). Or mistakes like those of Hee-chan Hwang, who invited Reus with a technically anything but professional football tire back pass to put Erling Haaland in scene (28th). Anyone who acts so unfocused cannot win a final.
RB Leipzig: Nagelsmann’s plan with Hwang and Sörloth fails
Both of them demonstrated once again in Berlin that they could not even begin to close the gap left by Timo Werner. Hwang, for example, was only 15 more times on the ball in addition to his fatal back pass before the 2-0 draw, while Sörloth fired a shot on goal (39th), but as a learned nine on the right flank looked completely lost. Nagelsmann consequently corrected his mistakes, brought Poulsen and Nkunku with the restart and later also Forsberg (62.).
Leipzig played more determinedly with the newcomers and developed more traction towards the goal of Roman Bürki, who had been completely unemployed for a long time. Only: The game was already lost at this point, Dani Olmo’s dream goal (71st) was ultimately wasted. “We tried to hurt Dortmund with Sörloth and Hwang at a lot of speed”, Nagelsmann justified his failed match plan afterwards.
Tactical, but “also performance” reasons were responsible for the double change at the break. An admission by the coach to have coached himself a bit. What would have happened if he had relied on the tried and tested? What if, with Willi Orban, he had perhaps also built on a trained and physically more robust central defender than Lukas Klostermann, in order to get a better grip on “elemental force” Haaland in conjunction with Dayot Upamecano? Or if he hadn’t deleted Angelino, one of the most important and variable Leipzigers this season, from the squad for sporting reasons?
Questions about questions that come down on Nagelsmann, but with which he can cope. “That doesn’t break my crown,” he said after his most bitter evening as coach. In Munich he should still have one or the other opportunity for a title anyway. Should he skip them like he did on Thursday evening in Berlin, it will be – quote Bastian Schweinsteiger – “a little more difficult”.