The LIGA Total! Cup came to its conclusion today with Bremen coming out the victor and Bayern finishing third. Here is the how Bayern performed overall:
Bayern 2-2 Bremen (Bremen wins 4-2 on pens)
FC Bayern was thwarted on penalties against Bremen in the first round of the Liga Total! Cup. The first half saw Bayern concede early on; a simple ball into the penalty area wasn’t cleared properly by Jerome Boateng. That was the cue for the entire defence to fall apart. Nils Petersen was allowed to thwart Manuel Neuer rather easily.
And considering the goal came from a player on loan from Bayern, the goal was more difficult to accept. Bayern went hunting for an equalizer.
Arjen Robben had been the only bright spot for Bayern when it came to launching proper attacks. Eventually, he found Xherdan Shaqiri who finished with aplomb. Shaqiri is kind of similar to Robben in that he likes to take the ball on rather than pass. If he turns out to have a season like Robben did in 09-10, he can be as selfish as he wants to be.
At one point in the half, Toni Kroos picked a perfect pass for Mueller. That moment showed why Kroos is a perfect attacking midfielder. While he does marshal the defence well, he sort of tends to get caught in possession in defensive midfield from time to time. He and Emre Can don’t make too bad a defensive midfield pairing all the same.
With Bastian Schweinsteiger and Franck Ribery’s introduction to the match, the pace went up in the second half. Unfortunately, Bayern found themselves behind thanks to, of course, lousy defending from a set piece. Neuer’s punch only found Niclas Fullkrug who punished him for the poor clearance.
In a perfect world for Bayern, set pieces wouldn’t exist. They earned quite a few corners in the match but each and every one was a poor one. In fact, it allowed the opposition to counter-attack. A crunching tackle by Schweinsteiger had Matthias Sammer half-smiling. The tackle was good enough for a red. A second followed which should have seen him off.
Uli Hoeness was caught on camera shaking his head. Sitting close by was his brother Dieter Hoeness.
Nevertheless, Bayern never gave up. An unfortunate and ill-timed slip from Mueller saw a good chance go begging. Also, we witnessed a moment which will perhaps never be witnessed again—Lahm completely missed the ball when trying to cross towards the end. As the seconds ticked away, Kroos found Mueller, collected the deflected reverse ball and patiently tucked it away for a goal that really is the stylish goal we expect from him.
And so, it came down to penalties. Former Bayern youth Mehmet Ekici stepped up to take the first one and converted. Kroos converted his kick following three attempts by players from both sides to make the score 2-2, but that was the final penalty Bayern would score. Bremen converted their next two, the winning one converted by Kevin de Bruyne, on loan from Chelsea.
Ribery forced Sebastian Mielitz into a tame save as did Schweinsteiger. The rueful smile on Schweinsteiger’s face almost took me back to 19th of May. Overall, Bremen provided the perfect blue-print to play Bayern: Defend with ten men, counter-attack and take advantage of set-pieces. It is about time Bayern learns to play against teams that will defend for 90 minutes against them, because really, that performance wasn’t great.
Nonetheless, the game was a friendly and next up for Bayern was a match against HSV after their defeat to Dortmund thanks to a Jakub Blaszczykowski goal. At least, it spared everyone a grudge match against BVB until the 12th.
Because Bayern, with this kind of performance, would have lost despite the fact that Bremen did go on to win the competition.
Bayern 1-0 HSV
The performance in this match was better but can be owed to the fact that Bremen kept things much more compact on the field than HSV. Hamburg disintegrated rather easily at times. Bayern’s football flowed but there were defensive scares. Ivo Ilicevic had a great chance to level with a minute left on the clock, but tried to lob Tom Starke and saw the opportunity go begging.
Schweinsteiger left the pitch with 18 minutes on the clock and judging by his pitch-side conversation with Dr. Muller-Wohlfahrt, he has injured himself again. However, Heynckes reassured everyone that he just turned his ankle and the injury is nothing serious.
Kroos took over. Shaqiri played a fantastic match both offensively and defensively. He played a wonderful pass to Franck Ribery. Ribery’s shot was saved by the post and Mitchell Weiser tucked in the rebound.
Weiser also had an excellent game both offensively and defensively. On the basis of his performances, he could turn out to be more than just another talented junior at Bayern.
Mario Mandzukic fired in a brilliant shot in the second half off an impossible angle which hit the post. Unfortunately, nobody could get at the end of it.
In football, one should never allow their opponents to hang on. Bayern, despite seeming on the verge of a second couldn’t get it. A better side than HSV would have certainly leveled. Rene Adler, though, did perform greatly to protect his side from a heavier defeat. Emre Can played a good game as well. Bayern looked weak on set pieces nonetheless and HSV should have leveled with a header.
So, yes, Bayern finished in third again in this competition.
Finally, I have some rather disturbing news (via the team's official website). Following injuries to David Alaba, Rafinha and Diego Contento, Gomez is suffering from joint problems in his right ankle and will now require surgery. A comeback date has not been set. Claudio Pizarro sat out the competition with a hip problem. Franck Ribery has been taking it easy in training due to an inflamed heel.
Matthias Sammer announced the cancellation of the friendly against SG Sonnenhof Großaspach due to the injury problems. The next match where Bayern will feature is thus the season opener, the DFB Ligapokal against Borussia Dortmund on the 12th of August. The friendly in Großaspach will be played on a later date.
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