Everyone anticipated a brilliant match at Borussia Park as the Bundesliga opened for 2012 on Friday evening. The match turned out to be highly entertaining due to the quality of one team (Gladbach) and the utter comical defending of the other (Bayern).
One would imagine that Bayern wouldn't resemble the weary side that took to the pitch prior to the winter break. Unfortunately, Bayern looked more tired than ever; this might be down to the long trip they took to India. Bayern played poorly from the first minute till the last. They played 'right into Gladbach's hands' as Jupp Heynckes said in his press conference.
Bayern as expected had the majority of possession. They created about two clear-cut chances and were awfully toothless in attack. By now, you know the story. Manuel Neuer, this time without any assistance from Jerome Boateng, passed to Marco Reus accidentally who scored the first. The young and brilliant Patrick Hermann scored twice and left Bayern dumbstruck.
Bayern was staring at humiliation. Every time Gladbach launched a counter-attack, the mutual feeling in the stadium was that Bayern was going to concede. Bastian Schweinsteiger, who gave the impression of a player who had not played since October, scored a goal (or just about scored it) to make the score-line a tad more respectable. Nonetheless, whenever Bayern Munich loses, even by one goal, there is always plenty of drama in the German media.
Well, I learned five things from this match:
1) Bayern is certainly not a sure bet to win the league this season. Five defeats in a season which is only 18 match-days old is not an indicator of a title winning side. With Dortmund, Schalke and Gladbach on their heels, this has the markers of a long season on it. Schalke, despite all their injuries, has managed to stay in contention.
2) Jupp Heynckes requires a 'Plan B.' I am not quite suring bringing on David Alaba is a brilliant idea when the team requires two goals. I feel bringing on Ivica Olic is a better thing to do. Also, constantly being outdone by tactically brilliant coaches is becoming a trade-mark of Heynckes' side. This must change quickly.
3) Toni Kroos is definitely not meant to be a winger. Kroos is meant to be the 'man in the middle.' His performance against Wolfsburg proved that his traits are meant for a player in the middle of attacking midfield or defensive midfield.
4) The defence must improve. Bayern's defence is average at best. The defence had a fantastic run in the first half of the season but since then has suffered. With Rafinha in the defence, Bayern may finally have a back five capable of winning titles.
Franz Beckenbauer came out after the match and said that Arjen Robben and Jerome Boateng cannot function on the same flank. Beckenbauer was almost expressing the thoughts of every Bayern supporter. Robben did not even look like a shadow of his former match winning self in the match. It almost felt like Robben doesn't fit into Heynckes' philosophy.
Nonetheless, Bayern still remains top of the table, ahead by goal difference from Dortmund and Schalke and by a single point from Gladbach. The season started the same way (with a defeat to Gladbach) and we all know the run Bayern went on afterwards. This could turn out to be the case again considering that Ribery returns against Wolfsburg.
Daniel Van Buyten has been ruled out for a considerable amount of time due to an injury he picked up against Wolfsburg. Heynckes will thus have no choice but to field Rafinha, a player who the majority of Bayern fans would like to find on the team sheet on a regular basis.
Wolfsburg is coming of a 1-0 win against Koeln. Felix Magath signed eight new players during the transfer window costing a total of roughly 30 million euros. One good signing that he made was that of Ricardo Rodriguez, a player who massively impressed against Bayern in his Zurich days in the Champions League qualifiers this season.
Marcel Schaefer, Christian Trasch, Patrick Helmes and Patrick Ochs are all names you will all be familiar with from the Wolfsburg squad. Also, there is Srdjan Lakic. The reverse fixture ended in a 0-1 victory for Bayern under controversial circumstances. Wolfsburg had a legitimate goal from Patrick Helmes disallowed. Bayern scored in the dying minutes via Luiz Gustavo, a player who should have featured on Friday.
So, will Bayern win and go of on another run? Tell me what you think.