Bayern Have Already Beaten Dortmund: What We Learned from the Win in Freiburg
Bayern Munich extended their lead atop the Bundesliga table on Wednesday as they earned a 2-0 win away to Freiburg. The result left the German record champions 10 points ahead of Leverkusen and 11 clear of Dortmund, whom they face on Saturday.
However convincing the score may look, Bayern's victory was anything but routine. The points were in the balance until the final 11 minutes, when Bayern got their second goal. Freiburg fought until the very end, and only their wayward finishing denied them what would have been a deserved goal.
In the end, Bayern got the result they needed. But as always, there were lessons to be learned, both positive and negative, from the proceedings. Read on for a full analysis...
Bayern Have Picked Up the Habits of a Title-Winning Side
Although Bayern won by more than a goal, their performance was anything but convincing. Until Anatoliy Tymoshchuk made it 2-0 in the 79th minute, the game was still in the balance. Incredible, given that Freiburg played with 10 men from the 12th minute and used an offside trap that even Thomas Schaaf would describe as too high.
Bayern committed twice as many fouls as Freiburg and were caught offside an incredible 12 times. They barely out-shot their hosts. The Bavarians' performance can only be described as lethargic. But they won.
In the past, especially under Louis van Gaal, Bayern would have dropped points in a game like this. But just about nothing, it seems, bothers Bayern on the domestic front.
Wednesday's match was not the first in which Bayern played poorly but still managed to claim three points. Particularly in Champions League games at home against Valencia and away to Lille, the Bavarians have left much to be desired but took the spoils.
In good form and bad, Bayern continue to get the results they need in the Bundesliga. They've played like champions: Now only they can stop themselves from claiming the title.
Shaqiri Isn't a No. 10
When Bayern confirmed the signing of Xherdan Shaqiri in February, it was expected that the Swiss winger would play as a backup for Arjen Robben or Franck Ribery on the wing. And although he has often featured on the flank, Jupp Heynckes has in several instances used the Switzerland international in a central role.
Freiburg played with 10 men after the 12th minute and were missing a key defender in Matthias Ginter. And yet, in 64 minutes on the pitch, Shaqiri did very little. There is no doubting the 21-year-old is a great talent, but he is primarily a one-footed player and his natural position is on the wing.
Heynckes could have easily swapped the positions of Shaqiri and right-winger Thomas Mueller. Although the latter is hardly a playmaker, the latter at least would be suitable for a central role as a supporting striker. After all, it was there where Mueller made a name for himself under Louis van Gaal.
Bayern Have Won the Big Head-to-Head with Dortmund Three Days Early
Bundesliga fans have waited all season for Dortmund and Bayern to square off, and that will finally happen this Saturday. But no matter the result of the six-pointer, Bayern will be in a better situation than they were at the start of the week.
Having taken a record-setting 37 points from 14 games, Bayern are on pace to shatter the Bundesliga points record Dortmund set last year. Even if they lose both of their head-to-head fixtures with BVB, the Bavarians can comfortably beat the record of 81 points. With their bench as deep as it is, it's hard to see Bayern dropping many points, especially against teams other than BVB.
Juergen Klopp looked ahead to Saturday's fixture when he selected his team to face Fortuna Duesseldorf on Tuesday, giving Mario Goetze, Ilkay Gundogan and Mats Hummels the night off to regenerate and recover from slight knocks. He also took off Marco Reus early, with the score 1-0. Duesseldorf equalized, Dortmund were held and as a result fell two further points behind Bayern.
Dortmund might win Saturday's match, but the result would bring them only one point closer to Bayern than they stood at the beginning of the week. Both clubs had very winnable fixtures in midweek: Klopp gambled with a weaker side than usual and paid the price. Bayern took full advantage on Wednesday and will have less pressure to worry about heading into the weekend.