FC Bayern Munich survived a tough week in Qatar. They played two friendlies. They beat Lekhwiya by four goals before taking on Schalke in a contest which spoke volumes about FC Bayern's development.
FC Schalke 04 0-5 FC Bayern
FC Bayern has never played the brand of football they do now. Their current system is beyond breath-taking. They press endlessly and they play with an unbelievable amount of pace.
The fact that they have the highest possession control percentage in the Bundesliga, but is also the side to have scored the most goals on the counter-attack, sums up just how good they are at the moment.
Schalke has been going through a self-induced crisis since November. The crisis is seemingly continuing despite the fact that the futures of Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Lewis Holtby have been decided. Injuries to Ibrahim Afellay and Christoph Moritz do not help them at all. Also, Jens Keller is seemingly not the coach Schalke fans hoped he would be.
Nonetheless, whether the margin was down to Schalke's ineptitude is for you to decide.
Bayern cruised to victory rather easily. Thomas Muller struck from the spot. Franck Ribery tore down the left flank and set up Muller for a second. Mario Mandzukic, who really had a good game, struck twice.
In the second half, Jupp Heynckes introduced plenty of changes. Notable amongst the changes was the introduction of Emre Can in the heart of defence. Arjen Robben came into midfield.
Bayern started controlling possession. But some of the pace in the side was sacrificed. This did not stop Bayern from adding a fifth from Mario Gomez. Schalke drew some saves from the keeper, Tom Starke as well as the match neared to an end.
In the middle of the second half, Bastian Schweinsteiger was replaced to give young Dane Pierre Hojbjerg a run out. The Dane almost scored, surprisingly. He seems to be a bright prospect for the future already.
In the first half, Bayern seemed to have plenty of possession. However, stats said that both sides shared possession evenly. Bayern seemed extremely dominant in that half after riding out an early storm. This shows the change in Bayern. Using their possession-based style only, they would have needed much more than 50 percent possession in one half to break down the opponent as easily as they did.
Bayern is learning step by step. And they are getting better by the day.
FC Basel vs. FC Bayern
The last time that FC Bayern met FC Basel, the supporters of the Swiss club were busy looking at the clock at the Allianz Arena. It was a dreadful experience for them, especially after the wonderful and hopeful experience of the game in Switzerland.
The Swiss had stolen the show with a goal in the first leg against a rather dreadful Bayern. They came to the second leg with hope but were bulldozed 7-0. Mario Gomez struck four times on a day when everything went Bayern's way in the UEFA Champions League.
This match will obviously lack the glamor of that tie. However, a friendly between the two is surely going to be a pleasant one to watch. The Swiss side is exciting to watch. Bayern has been entertaining for most of the season so far. Jupp Heynckes will surely change the lineup for the second half. This is my best guess for a first-half lineup:
Philipp Lahm- Daniel Van Buyten- Dante- David Alaba
Bastian Schweinsteiger- Javier Martinez
Thomas Muller- Toni Kroos- Franck Ribery
Prediction: Basel 1-3 Bayern
Fines for Bayern, and Jan Kirchhoff Signs!
Jan Kirchhoff officially put pen to paper on a three-year deal for FC Bayern last week (fcbayern.telekom.de). A loan for the next six months would make sense for Bayern due to Jerome Boateng's three-match suspension in the UEFA Champions League and Holger Badstuber's long-term injury. Financially however, such a deal would not make sense for Mainz as they would have to bring someone in to add depth to the bench if they gave Kirchhoff away in January
Meanwhile, Bayern has been fined a total of 15,000 Euros due to fan trouble by the DFB. The charges filed against them include the setting off of flares by fans in an away game against Fortuna Dusseldorf, the use of such flares against Bavarian rivals Nuremberg and the intrusion of a home fan in a match against Borussia Dortmund. Dusseldorf, Mainz and Koln have also been fined for crowd trouble.