The first two matches have gone according to plan—Borussia Dortmund was put away for a trophy while Jahn Regensburg was put away 0-4. The focus now shifts to the Bundesliga opener against Greuther Fürth.
Bayern has started off slowly in each season since 2007-08. Last season, after the first two matches, they managed to overturn recent history and motor their way to the top. They did, however, lose their opener to Borussia Mönchengladbach.
First of all, let’s go back to the win over Regensburg. The tactics Regensburg used involved clogging the midfield and hitting Bayern on the counter. For 32 minutes, Bayern couldn’t find their way, as loads of passes went astray. Finally, a slightly ill Franck Ribery found Mario Mandzukic in the box. The Croat simply tapped the ball into the net.
Xherdan Shaqiri came on in the second half and changed the dynamics of the match. He scored from a free-kick on an Andrea Pirlo-like goal. He set up Mandzukic for a second score, and Claudio Pizarro for Bayern’s fourth of the night.
For the second year in a row, Bayern will kick-off on a Saturday rather than a Friday. This is because the champions traditionally open the season on a Friday. On Saturday, rather than the usual six games, seven games will take place. The DFB has surprisingly accepted Stuttgart’s request to move their match—originally scheduled for Sunday—in order to allow them to prepare better for their Europa League qualifier.
Bayern and Greuther Fürth have obviously not met in the Bundesliga in past years because this is Fürth’s first promotion to the top-tier in Germany. They did, however, meet recently in the DFB Pokal in 2010 at the quarter-final stage.
Fürth was never going to upset the biggest of big boys in German football. However, the half-time score in that game was 1-2 in favour of Fürth! Sami Allagui, who you might know from his time at Mainz, scored his side’s second and gave them a rather surprising lead. Nonetheless, Bayern began to open up and have fun in the second half and ran out as 6-2 winners—one of which was an own goal.
Fürth plays in a 4-4-2 formation. They are coached by former Schalke coach Mike Büskens, who has promised attractive football to the fans. It is doubtful whether they will risk playing with two forwards up-front against Bayern. In terms of transfer dealings, the Bavarian side sold Olivier Occean to Frankfurt. Occean was an important part of the side.
Fürth upset Hoffenheim in last season’s DFB Pokal to reach the semi-finals. They were undone by a last second goal in extra time from Ilkay Guendogan when up against Dortmund. This season, unfortunately for their fans, there will be no more cup football owing to their defeat against Kickers Offenbach.
As far as the injury news is concerned, Bastian Schweinsteiger is seemingly set to start from the bench. Definite absentees include Mario Gomez, David Alaba, Rafinha, Diego Contento and third choice keeper Lukas Raeder. Raeder unfortunately has an ACL injury and will be out for six months. He was purchased from Schalke in the preseason.
Daniel Van Buyten and Franck Ribery have both been ruled out. The Frenchman was ill, of course, in Regensburg. Emre Can is suffering from a dead leg. That usually results in a one-match absence but Can will seemingly be ready for this one.
This is my best guess at a probable lineup for the first of six Bavarian derbies this season:
Philipp Lahm; Holger Badstuber; Dante; Jerome Boateng
Toni Kroos; Luiz Gustavo
Arjen Robben; Xherdan Shaqiri; Thomas Müller
Unlike last season, Bayern is spoilt for choice. Claudio Pizarro will be available if a late goal is required.
Prediction: Fürth 1-3 Bayern