FC Bayern: The Return of the Bundesliga and Bastian Schweinsteiger
The Cup win over Bochum seems to have come ages ago. That match, though, was memorable. Having fallen behind, Bayern leveled through the mercurial Toni Kroos. As the match looked to be headed for extra time, Franck Ribery set up Arjen Robben for the winner. 14 seconds later, the match ended.
Now, let's look back at the winter.
Bayern seemed to be chasing Benedikt Howedes, Dimitar Berbatov and Marco Reus. Reus was the one Bayern publicly admitted their interest in.
However, Bayern failed to guarantee Reus a starting berth, despite offering him higher wages than Dortmund. Reus thus committed himself to Dortmund from the start of next season. Bayern will meet Reus tomorrow in Monchengladbach for the first restart fixture following the winter break.
Berbatov might still join Bayern. Berbatov is behind Chicharito, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck in the pecking order in Manchester United, and he would have to deal with the same problems in Munich.
Manager Jupp Heynckes persuaded Ivica Olic to stay on, suggesting that Olic, who has regained some of his old form, is second in the pecking order behind Mario Gomez. Nils Petersen—who has had more playing time than was warranted—is third in the order, and potentially the one Berbatov can overtake. This rumour has very little juice to it as a result.
Last week, Bayern headed to India to play the South Asians in Baichung Bhutia's testimonial. They put four past the Indians in the first half and fielded a much-changed side in the second. The fans were asking Manuel Neuer to join them in the stands during the first half, considering that Neuer was nothing more than a mere spectator. In the second half, the Indians showed much better spirit and forced a save or two out of Neuer. The pick of the goals was a long range drive by Schweinsteiger.
What will be the outcome of this match?
Bayern also played Rot Weiss Essen recently, and put four past them as well. Robben scored in that fixture and Schweinsteiger was strangely carded. The pick of the goals belonged to Toni Kroos.
Kroos was recently appreciated by chairman Karl Heinz Rummenigge who deemed him 'close to world class'. With a bit more experience under his belt, Toni should become world class.
One player who was supposed to turn into a world-beater but never did is Breno. Bayern helped Breno recover from a serious injury, and then bailed him out from prison recently so he could join the team's training camp in Doha. After Bayern recently demoted Breno to the reserves for match-practice, he lashed out at the club on Twitter.
Breno's ungratefulness towards the club that dug him out of a large hole did not please anyone, including Rummenigge, who issued a 'yellow card' to the Brazilian for his comments. The Brazilian responded to the warning by apologizing for his comments. This was a rare case of Twitter abuse in German football.
So, now, let's look forward to tomorrow's match against Gladbach. By now, Gladbach has proven that they can hold out with the big boys. They are sitting in the fourth spot, just four points behind Bayern, and just a point behind the two Ruhr sides. They are tactically disciplined and play on the counter-attack.
They have Reus to score for them, Juan Arango to set up goals, Dante to tackle and Marc-Andre ter Stegen to block shots. Added to that are the talents of Patrick Hermann, an up and coming youngster.
Last season, Bayern ran into trouble in this fixture, as Schweinsteiger reminded in his press conference recently. Leading 2-1, Schweinsteiger squandered the chance of a penalty to go up 3-1. Gladbach then came roaring back in the second half and scored two goals to go up 3-2 through Reus and Igor de Camargo. Philipp Lahm dug Bayern out with a rare goal in the 84th minute.
The last time the sides met was on Match-Day One at the Allianz Arena. A very toothless Bayern failed to break past Gladbach's barriers, and lost 0-1 to a very unfortunate goal following a mess up between Jerome Boateng and Manuel Neuer. Gladbach hardly allowed Bayern any clear chances in front of goal that day.
Franck Ribery is suspended following his red card against Koln on Match-Day 17. Toni Kroos is the most likely candidate to play in the wing. Thomas Mueller is another candidate but might be placed in the middle following his complaints about being played out of position recently. There might be very little truth to those rumours, however.
Schweinsteiger is going to return following that horrific collar bone injury he suffered against Napoli in the first half of the season. He had a minor injury in training recently, but has been given the green light to start tomorrow. According to Mario Gomez, Schweini adds a bit of 'extra class' to Bayern.
Schweinsteiger is ready to go and is desperate to play, if his recent press conferences are anything to go by.
So finally, will Bayern win? Let's wait and see.
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