FC Bayern: A Look at Transfer Rumours and Preseason Friendlies
Now that preseason friendlies have begun, Bayern's team is beginning to come together for next season. But there are still rumors of more transfers, too. Let's take a look at all the latest news for Bayern:
Napoli 3-2 Bayern
Bayern had beaten Napoli in the Champions League last season. Gokhan Inler wasn’t playing—that must have brought some relief to Jupp Heynckes. David Alaba opened the scoring, and the match played out as expected—Bayern attacked the opposition goal endlessly while Napoli tried to hit them on counter-attacks.
There was a bit of difference in the forward play. The team tried to move the attacks along faster, but Anatoliy Tymoshchuk struggled to uphold the role that Bastian Schweinsteiger or Toni Kroos normally takes on in defensive midfield. After Alaba's goal, Napoli equalized at the end of the half.
In the second half, Napoli took the lead thanks to some lackadaisical Bayern defending through the player who still sends shivers down my spine, Goran Pandev. Xherdan Shaqiri equalized with a magnificent free-kick that displayed both technique and power. Bayern, however, was caught sleeping during another counter-attack and found themselves down late in the match.
Napoli made two time-wasting substitutions in the final minute, which was rather surprising. Bayern probed for the equalizer and came inches from earning it at the death. All through, Walter Mazzari on the sidelines seemed to be urging his team on to a "famous" victory. It almost seemed Napoli was playing for points or tickets to the Champions League quarter-final.
Nonetheless, Napoli must be given credit for executing their plan to perfection. The Bayern defence and defensive midfield can be criticized for each of the conceded goals. Jupp Heynckes confessed himself happy with the performance. The team nonetheless still has a little more to learn about defending ahead of next season.
Alaba and Rafinha injuries
Diego Contento has had a good preseason up to date. He can look forward to more playing time due to an injury to David Alaba. Alaba suffered a stress fracture against Napoli that will rule him out for six to eight weeks. He will not be available for the Pokal opener against Jahn Regensburg as well as the Bundesliga opener against Greuther Furth.
Alaba has had an excellent preseason and was emerging as a real leader ahead of the next season. He will be missed. Other options to take over at one of the full-back slots not allocated to Philipp Lahm include Mitchell Weiser, Xherdan Shaqiri, Jerome Boateng and Holger Badstuber.
Rafinha will not be an option. He suffered ligament damage in his ankle that will rule him out for four to five weeks. Whether Rafinha will be missed, though, is an entirely different question. He is usually more concerned with the offence than with his defensive duties, and Heynckes did not really want to play him last season.
Trips to China: Lahm and Schweini exclusion
After the drop in form following last’s season’s trip to India during the winter break, a trip to Asia again did not seem to be a great idea. The destination this year is China, but the traveling party will not consist of Alaba, Rafinha, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm. Lahm and Schweinsteiger both need to recuperate after last season.
Lahm rarely ever misses a game and could do without a long back-breaking trip to China. Everyone agrees on the fact that Schweinsteiger needs to rebuild himself after the terrible injuries of last season and, of course, the aches that came along with losing out in four competitions.
Beijing Gu’oan 0-6 Bayern
The first goal of the match came from the longest serving Bayern striker, Claudio Pizarro. The finish was awkward but was helped in on the way by a Beijing player. The second goal was a header from Arjen Robben after he had set up the first. Franck Ribery set Pizarro up for a header to round out the first half.
In the second half, after Gomez fluffed his two customary brilliant chances, he set up Thomas Mueller for an easy finish. Mario Mandzukic scored perhaps the best goal of the day when he placed the ball beautifully into the corner of the net after being set up by Mueller. Gomez himself headed in the third after being set up by Shaqiri.
Bayern 2-1 Wolfsburg
The match seemed to have the tenacity of a regular Bundesliga game. Bayern gradually took control and were two goals to the good by the end of the first half. Thomas Mueller was fouled in the box, and Mario Mandzukic converted the penalty.
The second goal came via a break. Franck Ribery set up Arjen Robben, who chipped in wonderfully. The goal was delightful.
In the second half, there were tons of substitutions. Bayern introduced two strikers in the second half—Mario Gomez and Claudio Pizarro. Wolfsburg looked the better side.
Both sides had chances. Thomas Kahlenberg missed a great chance in the closing stages. Vaclav Pilar, one of Wolfsburg’s new recruits, scored his side’s only goal with an easy finish.
The match in many ways resembled last season’s issues, especially the first half. Bayern had plenty of possession but created very few clear chances. They scored two goals, which helped overlook the creating problems.
The back four didn’t look convincing at all. The defensive problems will change with the addition of Lahm. The players looked great considering this is preseason after all, though.
Lars Bender and Other Rumours
Bayer Leverkusen CEO Wolfgang Holzhauser was slightly "annoyed" by Jupp Heynckes’ comments in the press about Bender, via ESPN. Bender of course came under the spotlight of German football during Heynckes’ tutelage in Leverkusen. Bender undoubtedly did his reputation the world of good at the Euros with his performance against Denmark.
Bender has a contract tying him to Leverkusen till 2017. But then again, Mario Gomez had signed a new contract with Stuttgart just before Bayern came calling with 30 million euros. Nonetheless, Bayern already has enough depth in midfield. Though he could feature in defence, this one doesn’t seem like it will come through.
For that matter, Javi Martinez might not be worth pursuing with that price tag. Heynckes only had great things to say about the Athletic Bilbao player but clearly said that Bilbao was asking for an "indecent" amount (from Goal.com). Heynckes also talked about how disappointed he was in Jerome Boateng, who committed many errors last season.
Nigel de Jong, Sami Khedira and every other defensive midfielder has been linked to Bayern. Dutch paper De Telegraaph reported Bayern's interest in Khedira (h/t Goal.com), with the Daily Mail claiming the club was chasing De Jong. As far as Lars Bender is concerned, he and his twin came through the ranks of 1860 München. Would he want to return to Munich again?
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