Bayern Munich: No Steady State

Bayern Munich is one of the leading clubs in the football world right now. With the guide of coach Pep Guardiola, the Bavarians are showing an outstanding level, winning 18 out of 23 matches in the Bundesliga this 2014-2015 season, losing only one and drawing the rest. There is no denying that they are dominating Europe!

Although the team has showed no intentions of slowing down, and have worked very hard during the break and at the training camp, their first game against Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga was a hard loss of 4-1. After that, 10-man Bayern managed to draw with Schalke. The team needed a win to restore their faith and trust and the first win of 2015 came in Allianz Arena two weeks ago against Stuttgart. But the 23-time Bundesliga winners are known for their show stopping performances and showed hunger scoring eight goals against Hamburg the following match. Arjen Robben, Thomas Muller, and Mario Gotze all scored braces, leaving Frank Ribery and Robert Lewandowski to score the last two.

After the killer performance, the much-anticipated Champions League final 16 match took place at Lviv Arena against Dontesk Schkhtar only two days after their run-down of the humble Hamburg. Bayern presents always a high level, fans and critics do not tolerate less than brilliant games. Unfortunately, that was not delivered by the Bavarians. The very un-exciting and un-eventful match ended goalless. Although, Bayern showed great defense, and high possessiontheir attacking force was missing. They created some chances in the first half of the match, but nearly none in the second half.  They failed in creating danger, instead only taking some easily savable shots at the opponent’s goal. Whether the team was being cautious or not, there is no doubt, Bayern has more to offer.

Xabi Alonso has been heavily criticized in the media lately, but he is not to blame for the results. When the defense was failing, the Spanish had to step in and save the day, even if it got him a red card. The team have shown they are constantly able to play with one less player.

And when the team needed reinsurance yet again, they squashed rivals Paderborn a swapping 6-0. The match is considered special not only because Lewandowski and Robben scored each a brace, but Mitchell Weiser, the 20-year-old German, scored his first Bundesliga goal!

So why is there such a fluctuation in their performance? It is not only about how many goals they are managing to score but by the style of playing that is varying radically. And why is that?

Bayern Munich has a long list of A-list football players and the battle for the starting team must be heated. After all, this same competition can be the reason why Xherdan Shaqiri left this season to join FC Internazionale. When you have stars such as Robben, Muller, Gotze, and Bastian Schweinsteiger all Ballon D’Or contenders, it cannot be easy to choose the perfect position for each and please them all at the same time. Pep Guardiola has been trying some new tactics and putting some players out of position. That forms a challenge for the players who take time to adjust.

On the defense side, the shining stars are Rafinha, Holger Badstuber, Medhi Benatia, David Alaba, Jerome Boateng, Juan Bernat and they form a strong wall along with Manuel Neuer. It is also critical to match them with the right midfielders: Ribéry, Robben, Gotze, Muller, Schweinsteiger, Xabi Alonso and Sebastian Rode. This has shown its difficulties recently. With the absence of Captain Philipp Lahm, and other influential players like Javi Martinez and Thiago, this could be the reason for Bayern’s up and downs.

Pep Guardiola has been proven to be one of the best coaches in the world. But does the Spanish coach need to change his techniques to fit German football? Let’s be honest. German football is one of the fastest games. Bringing in Xabi Alonso, was not for his speed but for his control and expertise and so is role of Schweinsteiger. Is paring them together the right choice? In the last match against Paderborn, Schweinsteiger was in fact not on the field while Alonso played. What about Bernat and Robben? These two have been playing in great harmony and creating great chances and seem like a match made in heaven.

Nevertheless, Bayern Munich’s number 1, Manuel Neuer, is confident about his team moving forward to the next round of the Champions League. The leg 2 will happen in Munich on March 11 in Allianz Arena. But for the ruthless leaders to win the match, they have to step up their game and play with fervor and passion which was not particularly demonstrated in leg 1. The giants are definitely up to the challenge but it is critical to know who exactly will be in the starting line-up and the position of each player. Maybe with the red army that is their fans, they will play a whole other game.

There has been some rumors stirred up that Guardiola and Lewandowski are not getting along, which can be very negative on the team, but last week Lewandowski finally reacted to the rumors and claimed the following: “When I’m out on the pitch I try to play well and score goals. I’m very happy at FC Bayern. And especially when I’m scoring, which is optimal.”

Bayern Munich, who are the top of the pile, are breaking records as well. During the match against Paderborn, Robben made a minor milestone becoming Bundesliga’s top scorer this season with 16 goals. Today, February to 17, happens be FC Bayern’s birthday. The club was founded in 1900. Happy 115th birthday Bayern!

Will Lahm, who is still working on his recovery, be back on the field soon? Will Thiago, who is also back in training, play? What about Martinez? Who will be featured? Will all the rumors be put to sleep? These are all questions that can decide the results of the up-coming match. Meanwhile, Bayern will continue to work very hard under Guardiola no doubt and try their best to maintain the leadership of the Bundesliga table. In fact, yesterday night, they defeated FC Koln 4-1 with a total of 16 shots and a 70% possession! That shows a bit of consistency. Let’s see how they will carry on with their season and if they will qualify to Champions League’s next round.

 

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