FC Bayern Munich: A Look Back at Dortmund and a Look Ahead to Hoffenheim
Another day, yet another victory. The significance of this one was just a bit more than the others perhaps.
Bayern 1-0 Borussia Dortmund. Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you!
The tactics, the control and the scrapping showed just about everything which is different about Bayern this season. BVB has often shut down Bayern's wings by double marking. However, Bayern decided to play away from the wings this time. Long gone was the stubborn approach to stick to the wings. Bastian Schweinsteiger, Dante and Javier Martinez all tested the Dortmund back line with long balls from the first third of the pitch.
It all worked to perfection. Had Roman Weidenfeller not been superb again, Bayern would have surely added a few more. A superb goal from Arjen Robben secured the victory. If this were a movie of Robben's career, it would be the perfect ending. The Dutchman, guilty of missing two crucial penalties and a sitter in important clashes last season, notably against BVB, fired in a rocket.
He had earlier chances to score, which he missed. However, thanks to his goal and his hard work, Franck Ribery's absence was not felt. Many will point to the fact that Mats Hummels' absence for BVB worked in the Bavarians' favor.
However, the sign of a great team is to be able to cope with the loss of one star easily. And Bayern did so.
The defending was excellent. Dante and even Daniel Van Buyten looked assured at the back. Dortmund was limited to just one shot on target. In the second half, Bayern showed that they can be scrappy, too. They sat back and let BVB come at them, yet still managed to have the better chances.
Finally, Heynckes made the right calls as far as substitutions are concerned. When Thomas Muller was having problems tracking back, he took the German international off.
Schweinsteiger was clearly the man of the match. He was excellent, without a shadow of a doubt. This was perhaps Schweinsteiger's best performance this year.
Robben, who had a drug test, could not savor the victory as much as he would have liked to. He will perhaps return to the bench against Hoffenheim, unfortunately. However, Arjen Robben is finally learning how to be a team player and how to be happy on and off the bench.
The next clash for Bayern is against the team in 17th in the Bundesliga, TSG Hoffenheim. Hoffenheim in their promotion year (2008-2009) led the table at one point, but eventually suffered after the loss of Vedad Ibisevic to injury. This season, they look incredibly poor. Morale in the dressing room is quite obviously low. Last week, an Augsburg side full of running and heart beat them thanks to Sascha Molders and jumped over them in the table to the relegation playoff spot.
The Hoffe will be looking to record a first victory in 10 over Bayern. The meeting in the Allianz Arena between the two was a rather drab affair earlier in the season. Bayern won out 2-0 thanks to two goals from Franck Ribery. Hoffenheim will set up to defend for 90 minutes. Bayern will look to notch up yet another victory. Since a defeat against Leverkusen in October, Bayern is yet to lose a match.
Philipp Lahm- Dante- Jerome Boateng- David Alaba
Bastian Schweinsteiger- Luiz Gustavo
Xherdan Shaqiri- Toni Kroos- Franck Ribery
Claudio Pizarro/Mario Gomez
Finally, for all who are interested, the draw for the Pokal semifinals is set to take place on Sunday. Bayern, Stuttgart, Freiburg and Wolfsburg will be involved in the draw. Freiburg had an incredibly special quarterfinal match. They fell 2-0 down within four minutes against Mainz but found two goals late on, one in the third minute of injury time. In extra time, they won the clash. Stuttgart beat Bochum while Wolfsburg beat Kickers Offenbach, the surprise story of this season's Pokal.
Prediction: Hoffenheim 0-2 Bayern
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