A 1-2 win over VfB Stuttgart has placed Bayern in pole position in the Bundesliga table. Bayern is the Autumn Champion and there is no doubt about that regardless of the result against Koln. Dortmund can only overtake Bayern in the scenario that they win 5-0 while Bayern loses 0-6. The win against Stuttgart was satisfying in the regard that it was the first match Bayern has won after going behind.
In many ways, it was Mario Gomez's night. He missed a golden opportunity within the first few minutes that reminded everyone of that miss in Vienna. Stuttgart took the lead through Christian Gentner following a great team move. Bayern equalized through Mario Gomez after he connected with a wonderful cross from Rafinha. Stuttgart went down to ten men when Cristian Molinaro was sent off for a second yellow card when he pushed Arjen Robben.
Gomez scored the winner in the second half following great interplay between Philipp Lahm and Toni Kroos. Bayern then shifted down to third gear and refused to find the third goal which would kill the match. Eventually, Stuttgart created chances- eventually Daniel Van Buyten almost gave away a goal. Cacau in his hurry misdirected his shot at an empty goal. Previously Gomez made a goal-line clearance which ensured that Bayern stayed in the lead.
Dortmund drew with Kaiserslautern and Gladbach lost to Augsburg. Schalke won against Hertha which brought them up to third. Dortmund is second due to a better goal difference than Schalke. Gladbach is fourth. Bayern next plays Koeln tomorrow.
Koeln is one team that annoys Bayern endlessly. Every season, they come to Munich to park the bus in-front of goal and every season they succeed. They walked away with a point from Munich last season and beat a very careless Bayern 3-2 in Koeln. This time, their plan won't be too different. Bayern will have to break them down and make sure Lukas Podolski doesn't conjure some magic on the break. Podolski is on the hottest streak of his career at the moment. He has 14 goals and 5 assists to his name this season and is just one goal behind Gomez in the top scorer's list.
Lazio, Schalke, Arsenal and Juventus are just a few sides interested in Podolski. In a way, the match can be seen as a battle between Podolski and Gomez due to their positions in the top scorer's list. As far as the line-up is concerned, it should remain the same as last week. Toni Kroos floruished in defensive midfield and he will perhaps remain there. This week Jupp Heynckes compared him to the greats Wolfgang Overath and Gunter Netzer. Bastian Schweinsteiger who was supposed to return this week will not return until January while Franck Ribery overcame a minor niggle and should be fit to start on Friday.
Before the game kicks of in Koeln, another important matter will be decided in Nyon, Switzerland. Bayern will find out the name of their first knockout round opponent in the Champions League. Of the unseeded sides, Bayern cannot face Napoli due to playing them in the group stages and Bayer Leverkusen due to belonging to the same association.
Thus, this leaves six opponents:
Basel- Basel's coach is a former Bayern youth coach and he would be welcomed in Bavaria with open arms. Bayern drew Basel in last year's group stage and beat them both times.
Lyon- Bayern has a great record against Lyon. They beat them in 2010 in the Champions League semi-finals in both legs. They beat Lyon at the Stade de Gerland under Juergen Klinsmann in the 2008-09 group stages.
Marseille- Marseille is one of those opponents who can get physical and it is best to avoid them.
Zenit- In the last meeting between Bayern and Zenit, Bayern won 4-2. The meeting was a friendly. In the last competitive meeting, Bayern lost 4-0 in the UEFA Cup semi-finals. This is the game where Uli Hoeness decided that he needed to purchase Anatoliy Tymoshchuk.
CSKA Moscow- Bayern hasn't played CSKA recently. Nonetheless, CSKA plays on artificial turf and this could work as a disadvantage for Bayern.
AC Milan- This would be a nightmare draw. In the last four editions in which Bayern has taken part in the CL, they have been knocked out thrice by a Milan side. In 2007, it was AC Milan. Bayern had the lead on away goals from the first leg but went down 0-2 at the Allianz Arena. Well, at least their first name is AC and not Inter.
All in all, tomorrow should be a great day, provided that certain things go in Bayern's favour.