Jurgen Klinsmann's shoulders dropped; Thomas Schaaf, the master of poker faces (or grumpy faces) almost smiled. Bayern was being taught a lesson by a Bremen side which had just come off a failed title challenge. Mesut Ozil and cmpany were giving Bayern a footballing lesson, in every sense of the world 'lesson.' The Allianz Arena moaned and groaned at times; at other times, there was complete silence from the red and whites. This took place in the 2008-09 season.
Bremen ran out victors, 2-5. Tim Borowski, in his red and white jersey, went and shook hands with Schaaf. He received some sympathetic hugs from his teammates, mates who he would return to a season later.
Fast forward to today and such a result is unthinkable. In fact, other results from the Klinsmann era such as Barcelona 4-0 Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg 5-1 Bayern Munich are unthinkable too. Speaking of Barcelona, let us cast just one glance back to a great Bavarian night (did you see that, Queen?!) in London.
First of all, the performance against Arsenal was certainly nowhere near as magnificent as some of Bayern's showings this season. Yet, the fact that a mid-level performance (Bayern never really got out of second gear) was enough to claim an away win over the fourth-best side in England speaks volumes about the Germans. After the two goals, Bayern simply passed the ball around amongst themselves. In fact, they stepped off the gas so much that they almost allowed Arsenal back in.
Bayern could have moaned and groaned about a corner that was never a corner. However, the fact that Bayern decided to go for the kill afterwards shows an improvement in their mentality. Toni Kroos' goal, no matter how many people point to defensive errors, was one of the best (perhaps only second best to Philippe Mexes) of this Champions League season. Thomas Muller's was as scrappy as they come, as was Mario Mandzukic's.
The defensive lapse was rather uncharacteristic considering Bayern's defensive record this season. However, how Bayern responded to the goal was brilliant. A fourth from Bayern looked more likely than a second from Arsenal. Arsenal, despite how the media portrays them, is a highly talented team. The tie is, however, not over until the fat lady sings. Inter Milan taught us that in 2011. It is a lesson well worth remembering.
Philipp Lahm deserved the man of the match award. He was simply excellent. He displayed his class as did Javier Martinez. Amongst the current Bayern starting contingent, Martinez and Dante are the least experienced in Champions League play; however, the two not even once showed their inexperience in this competition. They seem to fit right in.
Returning to the next match, Bayern plays Bremen. Before talking about Nils Petersen, let us focus on Mehmet Ekici for a second. Ekici came through every youth level for Bayern before transferring to Bremen. He is yet another Bayern youth who has found a home in a different Bundesliga club. Felix Kroos, Toni's younger brother, also plays there.
Werder is coming off a 2-3 loss to Freiburg into this one. Bremen never led in that match. Petersen rescued them twice but Freiburg had the last laugh. Bremen is currently twelfth in the table. As unthinkable as this might sound, Schaaf might not be around at Werder for much longer. He made Bremen German champions and a top heavy side; however, a lack of defensive stability has come back to haunt his side.
The meeting in the Weserstadion between the two ended in a 0-2 victory for Bayern. The Martinez-Luiz Gustavo combo was a hit that day. Two late goals were needed for Bayern to deservedly win. Captain Clemens Fritz and defender Sokratis are both out due to the flu for Werder. For Bayern, Jerome Boateng and Rafinha have both shaken off the flu. Holger Badstuber remains out.
Jupp Heynckes, in his thousandth match as a player and manager in the Bundesliga, has to line up his team in this one with one eye one the DFB Pokal clash against rivals Borussia Dortmund ('rivals' is an understatement) in midweek. Thomas Muller is set to earn a rest in this clash.
Probable Starting Lineup
Philipp Lahm- Dante- Daniel Van Buyten- David Alaba
Luiz Gustavo- Javier Martinez
Arjen Robben- Toni Kroos- Franck Ribery
Prediction: Bayern 2-0 Bremen