Bayern Munich 1-0 Borussia Mönchengladbach

The first half formations.

Bayern Munich moved back into the Champions League spots after a narrow and unconvincing win against plucky Borussia Mönchengladbach.

At the start of the current campaign, it’s unlikely that the bigwigs at Bayern and Gladbach would have expected to see their sides struggling to reach the Champions League and avoid the drop respectively. If some people were putting Bayern’s topsy-turvy season down to tiredness, the recent batch of EURO 2012 qualifiers and friendlies could not have come at a worse time – 12 players were called up to represent their nation, compared to Gladbach’s eight (four of whom played for the Germany U19 side, and thus aren’t near Lucien Favre’s first team at club level).

There were few injury problems affecting either side at least, so this tussle between two teams with very different goals would ultimately be decided by events on the pitch only. For the visitors, Mo Idrissou was finally dropped from the starting XI and Logan Bailly kept his place after a howler in round 27. There were no surprises in the home side’s line-up, however.  Continue reading

Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich

The first half formations.

A poor showing from Bayern Munich ultimately didn’t matter as they won their second consecutive game in the Bundesliga to keep the pressure on the sides above them in the Champions League places.

Looking at the history of this fixture, the odds looked pretty stacked in Bayern’s favour – no defeats in the last 17 Bundesliga clashes between the sides, and a 4-2 win at the Allianz Arena in October. But with ‘lame duck’ manager Louis van Gaal overseeing a disastrous exit at home to Inter in the Champions League on Tuesday, one which confirmed that Bayern would end the season without a trophy, Freiburg had a great chance to rub salt in the dethroned champions’ wounds. However, Robin Dutt’s side have been tailing off after a great start to the season (four defeats from the last five games), but luckily for the health of their supporters, they’ve established enough of a cushion to dismiss any notion of going down. Fans of goalscorers were more than adequately catered for here – the clash pitted two of the league’s finest against one another, Mario Gómez and Papiss Cissé. Continue reading

Hannover 3-1 Bayern Munich

The first-half formations.

High-flying Hannover stunned an again off-colour Bayern Munich side and moved into second place in the Bundesliga table.

Both sides came into this game in nigh-on full strength condition. There were three key absentees, however – Bastian Schweinsteiger, who’d accumulated five yellow cards (although given his sketchy recent performances, some might argue he and the team needed a brief break from one another), Luis Gustavo, who had the sniffles, and for the hosts, top scorer Didier Ya Konan, sidelined with a knee injury.

Although Hannover started the game one place ahead of Bayern, you could argue the psychological advantage was with the Bavarians going on the last four results between the two sides: 5-1, 3-0, 7-0, and most recently, in October 2010, 3-0. The victories – 18-1 on aggregate – were all in Bayern’s favour. And, ominously, the 5-1 win that came in the March of 2009 was on the back of a midweek cup elimination for FC Hollywood – something Louis van Gaal’s side experienced on Wednesday when humiliated by Schalke at the Allianz Arena. Continue reading

Bayern Munich 4-0 Hoffenheim

The first half formations.

Bayern Munich moved into third spot as the division’s second highest scorers (42) hammered the Bundesliga’s fourth sharpest shooters (39) in a remarkably one-sided affair. Arjen Robben’s second half brace wrapped up the points, but Mario Gómez put FC Bayern on track for all three points inside the opening two minutes.

The home side took the lead after 75 seconds as Hoffenheim sought to swamp the centre and stop Bayern’s two widemen from cutting inside. Cluelessly, they thereby left themselves exposed on the wings to full-back overlaps. If only the blob of blue in the middle was sat slightly deeper, this may not have been such a problem. However, Robben, located superbly by Thomas Müller, had time, space, and yards of green between the defence and goal in which to pass the ball across, and Gómez intelligently let it come across his body to leave Tom Starke helpless. Continue reading

Bayern Munich 4-1 Eintracht Frankfurt

The formations.

A quickfire second half double saw Bayern Munich leapfrog Frankfurt in the table and move to within five points of the Champions League spots.

From the off, Bayern deployed their usual pass n’ patience tactics in the face of a 4-5-1 – part and parcel of being the visiting side at the Allianz Arena. Louis van Gaal had two playmakers on the pitch in Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos, and two direct attackers in Franck Ribéry and Thomas Müller. With so many options in the Frankfurt half, Michael Skibbe kept his banks set, rather than pressing Bayern vigorously and leaving gaps for them to exploit.

Nevertheless, Theofanis Gekas’s game is based on running, so he was left to hurry the centre-backs and Anatoliy Tymoschuk. Not only is the Greek international highly effective at doing this, it also helps him score goals. In the first half, Gekas forced several errors from Daniel van Buyten and Breno, and at one point found himself one-on-one with Hans-Jörg Butt. However, the former Portsmouth striker fluffed his lines, and Sonny Kittel did little better with the follow-up.

The 17-year-old Kittel was making just his fourth appearance for Frankfurt, and was a thorn in the side of Bayern down the left. Quick to join in or make counter-attacks (something Frankfurt did decisively – no second thoughts, no holding and waiting for Bayern to flood back), Kittel also sent in a series of testing set pieces for Marco Russ, Halil Altintop, Aleksandar Vasoski & co. to hurl themselves at.

On the subject of big guys and headers, Skibbe’s primary tactic at restarts involved long punts to the centre circle for the 1.96m-tall Alexander Meier to flick on for the deliberately semi-circular midfield three and Gekas hovering behind him in amongst Bayern’s defenders. Yet when they got the ball down in Bayern’s half, the lack of space available saw Frankfurt panic, and either squander possession, or pass back to Ola Nikolov. Continue reading

Bayern Munich 3-0 Nuremberg

The first half formations.

Louis van Gaal tactically outwitted Dieter Hecking and set Bayern Munich on their way to a comfortable victory in the Bavarian derby.

Having converted Bastian Schweinsteiger into a defensive midfielder-cum-quarterback last season, Bayern’s Dutch manager elected to use the one-time winger in a more advanced position for the visit of Nuremberg.

Often exponents of the 4-2-3-1 system so popular in the world game today, Bayern started in a formation that resembled a 4-5-1 at its most languid, and a Christmas tree at its most attacking.

With both defences looking to stand high, and the visitors content to let Bayern have time on the ball, 20 outfield players were competing for space in a vicinity of the pitch encompassing around a quarter of its overall dimensions.

Bayern felt their way in using the calm manner Bundesliga fans have become accustomed to, and had both Tymoschuk and Schweinsteiger shuttling back to collect the ball off the hogging centre-backs.

However, Hecking had instructed Julian Schieber – joint top of the assists chart with Lewis Holtby – and the nearest midfielder nearest to vigorously press the piano-carrier. Continue reading