The Badem Württemberg derby took place on Sunday between Freiburg and Stuttgart. Anybody who watched the derby knows that SC Freiburg is not to be underestimated. Before we discuss Christian Streich’s ever improving side, let’s talk about a certain FC Bayern München who was said to be in a "November crisis" prior to Saturday evening.
By now, all of you perhaps know what happened in the match. A slightly fatigued Hannover side took on a "delirious" FC Bayern at the Allianz Arena. Bayern displayed wonderful passing as they struck five.
Javier Martinez got the party started with a wonderful overhead kick. Toni Kroos, described by one fan of a Guardian blog as a "human highlight reel," displayed wonderful technique as he volleyed in a second.
Franck Ribery scored a third to see Hannover off in 37 minutes. Christian Schulz was brought on by Mirko Slomka late in the first half for some ‘damage limitation’. However, Dante’s header and Mario Gomez’s quick goal heaped further misery upon Hannover.
Ten quick thoughts on that game:
- Javier Martinez had a good game; he displayed tremendous energy as he hassled the Hannover players continuously. He and Bastian Schweinsteiger showed that they understood each other well as each took turns in coming forward.
- Are Franck Ribery’s ribs really bruised? Judging by that showing, he is 110 percent fit!
- Mario Gomez’s goal displayed his strength first and foremost as he shrugged off Karim Haggui easily. His finish displayed good technique. It took him all of 26 seconds to score after his introduction. Gomez seems fired up; he knows Mario Mandzukic and Claudio Pizarro are having good seasons too.
- Furthermore, Mandzukic gives the team a different dimension than Gomez does. Mandzukic works extremely hard in all areas and is a smart player. He links up very well. He showed those qualities against Freiburg too. Gomez, who has added to his game since his move to Bavaria, is a pure striker who can pop up with goals at just about any time.
- The passing was immaculate! Bayern passed the ball around calmly and sharply. I guess when your playmaker is having a great day, the team is going to strike many times. Toni Kroos’ volley was a dream strike which added to six other brilliant strikes of his this season. He played the way he is expected to play every match.
- Mirko Slomka made four changes to his side. How much fatigue affected Hannover 96 is doubtful as Bayern had one of those days when nothing can go wrong. The fact that they didn’t add to the five is surprising.
- Hannover does not travel well. They were the second worst away team in the league last season. This result in hindsight isn’t too shocking but there is a huge difference between a 2-1 win and a 5-0 win. Bayern should cherish this.
- Manuel Neuer came out of the box once more to show the world just how good an outfield player he is. Seriously though, he is brilliant in those situations. He must get bored for the majority of most games. Even the keeper needs some action sometimes to keep him awake and Hannover wasn’t offering him much in this one.
- H96 did have some decent chances early on. Had they managed to hold Bayern scoreless for longer, things might have looked different at the end. However, they gave away a lot of space on the day, especially to Kroos, and ended up deservedly losing 5-0.
- Dante’s little dance was delightful. I was planning to write about four different scorers of four different nationalities but the half-Spaniard half-German striker ruined it all! It was a joy to watch Gomez score again. And for once, all his hair wasn’t even in place. The celebration was different too as the tipping hat was put aside for later use. And yes, it will be used plenty of times this season.
Now, let’s return to the discussion about Freiburg. They are sixth in the table; Christian Streich has done a miraculous job so far. That display against Stuttgart was one of SCF’s best. Stuttgart did strike the post twice; however, Freiburg deserved their win against the frustrated Swabians.
Five quick thoughts from that game:
- Freiburg’s counter-attacks were simply breathtaking. They passed the ball confidently and quickly. They played very directly as well.
- Freiburg wasn’t defensively solid; they did offer chances to Stuttgart. However, they always had plenty of bodies at the back, prepared to defend.
- Max Kruse in particular had a brilliant game. He is without doubt a talented player. Cedric Makiadi is the kind of player who will trouble Bayern. Jan Rosenthal has a bit of a "Kroos" in him. His goal was magnificent. Daniel Caligiuri displayed good passing against Stuttgart too.
- While Hannover could use the ‘fatigue’ excuse, Stuttgart really couldn’t. They played on Sunday; also they played against ten men for most of their Europa League encounter on Thursday and won 5-1. They could have lost by the same score-line had Freiburg made the most of their chances.
- And finally, Freiburg showed they can be physical when they want to be. Bayern struggles against sides which are physical. Freiburg proved that they will provide stiff opposition for Bayern.
Now, going to the game itself, Mensur Mujdza is suspended as he picked up a fifth yellow card of the season in stoppage time against Stuttgart. Arjen Robben does not look like he will be back. Jerome Boateng returned to the bench on Saturday and might even be restored to the starting eleven.
Freiburg’s stadium is situated in the Black Forest. Expansion plans were abandoned in favour of plans of a new stadium elsewhere. Their fans are vocal and will cheer their down to earth side for the full ninety minutes. There is a lot to like about Freiburg except the fact that they always trouble Bayern away from the Allianz.
The most recent meeting between the two sides was rather drab. Bayern struggled and limped to a 0-0 draw against a highly disciplined Freiburg. The game took place during Bayern’s worst period of last season, the January to March period. In 2011, Bayern sneaked past them, 1-2, thanks to a late Franck Ribery goal.
This is a tough game for Bayern. Jupp Heynckes has to decide where his priorities lie. He can risk Schweinsteiger in this one and go for all three points. If Bastian does earn a fifth yellow card and gets suspended, he can set his team out for a draw against BVB even though Bayern isn’t really capable of playing for anything but a win (away fans in Valencia would beg to differ of-course).
Luiz Gustavo’s injury puts Heynckes in a tough place as Kroos and Martinez haven’t played together in defensive midfield. Putting Anatoliy Tymoshchuk in is another option. Last season, Heynckes at times threw caution to the air regarding suspensions. He knows that two wins in the next two games will see Bayern race ever closer to the finish line of the Bundesliga. He also knows that a draw against BVB wouldn’t be a bad result.
A loss though would be inexcusable though. Emre Can’s suspension does not help Heynckes either.
This is my best guess at a starting line-up:
Philipp Lahm- Holger Badstuber- Jerome Boateng- Diego Contento
Javi Martinez- Anatoliy Tymoshchuk
Thomas Müller- Toni Kroos- Xherdan Shaqiri
Dante will need to be fit for Saturday and might be finally afforded a rest in this one. Bayern needs Ribery to play their best and hence the Frenchman might get a rest too.
The two Mario brothers will both be useful against an excellent BVB defence. Gomez might get a run out as a substitute to raise his match-fitness levels. Gomez incidentally scored four in a 7-0 demolition of SCF last season.
He also struck in the 1-2 win in the 2010-11 season.
How will Bayern fare? It is difficult to predict despite the brilliance they displayed against Hannover 96.
One thing is for sure though. They definitely won’t beat Freiburg by simply turning up.