FC Bayern Munich is on the brink of elimination from the Champions League and yet Bastian Schweinsteiger will travel with a smile on his face. Such matches according to him, are "fun" and yes, if the match turns out to be anything like Saturday's win over Hoffenheim, it should be fun for everyone.
Six simple goals and one Toni Kroos beauty was all it took to light up the Allianz Arena...oh, and I almost forgot to mention, Bastian Schweinsteiger was subbed on to tremendous applause from the crowd.
Basti got the biggest applause of the night, more than any of the goal-scorers, even more than hat-trick hero Mario Gomez.
The timing of Gomez breaking his barren spell was great. The team played much better with Arjen Robben and Philipp Lahm on one flank and David Alaba with Franck Ribery on the other. I expect Jupp Heynckes to keep the setting that way for the match against Basel. The movement was better than ever since the winter break. However, a few moves did break down too easily.
Luiz Gustavo's slip allowed Ryan Babel through for Hoffenheim to score a consolation late in the game. I am not sure anything is a consolation after conceding seven goals, though.
If you are a superstitious person, this will be interesting: Last year, just prior to playing Inter in the same stage of the Champions League, Bayern beat HSV by six goals. They lost to Inter as we know.
Schweinsteiger played very well in his short spell. He seemed like a ball magnet. One moment sticks out for me.
Close to the penalty area, Bastian seemed confused on what to do and lost the ball to a Hoffenheim player. He just drove towards the player, easily took the ball back and head towards goal. He was on the wing for a period and then switched flanks. He was, in other words, everywhere.
Bayern needed their leader back and now they will have him. Whether he will start is doubtful though. Considering Jupp Heynckes is the kind of person who cares about safety, expect Bastian to start on the bench.
So, what is going on at Basel? They have a 12-point lead in the Swiss Super League and won their previous league match 2-0 over Grasshopper Zurich with goals from future Bayern star Xherdan Shaqiri and former Dortmund player Philipp Degen. Speaking of Dortmund, they drew 0-0 against Augsburg, which allowed Bayern to close the gap to five points—which is still a huge gap.
Bayern's failure to score an away goal is what might come back to haunt them. Basel and Heiko Vogel will know that if they score an away goal, they will have Bayern on the ropes. Bayern will really have to start bashing in the goals from the first minute. We know they can do it, but will they do it?
Here is what I think the lineup will be:
Philipp Lahm—Jerome Boateng—Holger Badstuber—David Alaba
Toni Kroos—Luiz Gustavo (Bastian Schweinsteiger)
Arjen Robben—Thomas Mueller—Franck Ribery
After the win against Hoffenheim, one can't help but feel optimistic. For those who like stats, here are two for you: Bayern has progressed four out of five times (80 percent) in European ties after losing the first leg 1-0 away from home. Basel has progressed three out of four times (75 percent) after winning the first leg 1-0 in a European tie. So, its prediction time:
Bayern 2-1 Basel (2-2 on aggregate, Basel progresses on away goals)