FC Bayern Munich: Wolfsburg Thrashed at Allianz, a Trip to Bremen Awaits
"Wow", the German commentator yelled.
It is rare to hear a commentator be amazed by any move. However, Xherdan Shaqiri really took his and everyone’s breath away on Tuesday evening. Shaqiri was handed a start as the dynamic duo of Toni Kroos and Thomas Müller was rested. Müller had the flu and presumably spent the night at home.
Javier Martinez was also handed a start, as Jupp Heynckes continued to rotate his players.
At the moment, however, Bayern could field a team filled with players from their reserve side in the fourth division, FCB II, and still manage to win.
The first-half against Wolfsburg was superb. Felix Magath’s players couldn’t even get out of their own half.
In fact, Manuel Neuer might as well bring a sewing kit with him. His services aren’t really required. Neuer had a somewhat off-day. He didn’t look particularly sharp on the, perhaps, four occasions that he was called on.
Shaqiri on the other hand was at his sharpest. He was just about everywhere on the pitch and could have had another assist to his name had Mario Mandzukic not been wasteful.
It seems these days that anybody with the first name "Mario" who stars for Bayern simply cannot help but be wasteful. Gomez is more blatantly wasteful at times, but Mandzukic has missed some great chances recently, too. He did score two goals and both were wonderful headers.
It was Bastian Schweinsteiger who got the scoring started, though. He had a superb night overall. Arjen Robben passed to Franck Ribery who laid it on to Schweinsteiger to score a goal a player of his quality couldn’t possibly miss. It was his fourth goal in all competitions for Bayern.
Shaqiri set up one of Mandzukic’s two headers. He left the Wolfsburg defender in no-man’s land and crossed for Mandzukic to score. The moment he left the defender in his wake was when the commentator reacted enthusiastically. What is wonderful about Shaqiri is his industry. He was absolutely everywhere on the day—even at the back.
And as always, Bayern could have had plenty more on the day. Diego Benaglio was on top form to keep a fourth out.
Toni Kroos nearly got it in the final seconds but his free kick hit the side-netting.
Anatoliy Tymoshchuk got a run out for a longer time today while Claudio Pizarro came on as well.
Javier Martinez, who showed some brilliance today, had to be withdrawn today with what could be a short-term injury.
While Bayern is currently incredibly fun to watch, their stability at the back can be questioned to a certain extent. Bayern might have been a tad more stable at the back last season than this season but they are much more entertaining this season. Also, problems at the back are less prone to being found out, because Bayern is pressing much more than they did last season.
Next up for Bayern is a team that on paper should provide more problems than a hapless Wolfsburg.
Thomas Schaaf’s Bremen welcomes a familiar foe on Saturday. Schaaf’s side is unlucky to have collected only two wins in their campaign so far. Their Achilles heel happens to be last minute goals—one of Bayern’s many specialties.
They led 2-0 against Stuttgart last week but gave away the lead, conceding the equalizer after the 80th minute. On opening day, they didn’t pick up any points because they conceded after the 80th minute as well. Against Hannover, they conceded the winner in injury time.
In midweek action however, Bremen picked up the full complement of points. They beat Freiburg 2-1. Aaron Hunt scored his third of the campaign in that match. Hunt, who has an English mother, was always a talented but streaky player. He seems to finally have found some form. He is one of the few players to have converted a penalty this season despite missing one.
Bremen’s attack has looked quite exceptional this season despite not scoring a hatful of goals. They will give the Bayern defence more headaches than any side has done so far. Marko Arnautovic is a very tricky customer. Niklas Füllkrug is a useful player on the bench. Nils Petersen, a Bayern man himself, needs no introduction and neither does Mehmet Ekici, a former Bayern youth.
Tim Borowksi who featured for both clubs, retired recently. Borowksi’s greatest exploits came in 2006. I was quite a fan of him and expected him to play on further, but his decision to retire was seen by most to be correct.
These days, Jupp Heynckes has made predicting lineups an extremely difficult job. However, this is my best guess:
Philipp Lahm—Jerome Boateng—Dante—Holger Badstuber
Bastian Schweinsteiger—Luiz Gustavo
Franck Ribery—Toni Kroos—Arjen Robben
Mario Mandzukic/Claudio Pizarro
Javier Martinez seemed to have picked up a bit of an injury in the last match. Thomas Müller will have to recover from the flu to start. Mario Mandzukic was withdrawn as well in the last game with what could be a small problem.
Prediction: Bremen 1-3 FC Bayern
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