A red card after the match, the only conceded goal caused by the keeper’s mistake, no lineup changes, an entirely different approach – Louis van Gaal’s last match as Bayern coach was without any doubt a strange one.
It all started so well: Not even five minutes were played when a counter-attack gave Arjen Robben the opportunity to play a world-class pass, Thomas Müller didn’t have any problems converting. An early lead, now they can play their usual possession-based style and win easily, can’t they? Not at all.
As already mentioned, van Gaal used the same lineup as against Gladbach. With Daniel van Buyten and Breno injured that wasn’t much of a surprise, though. Nürnberg on the other hand surprised pretty much everyone. Dieter Hecking was expected to let either Juri Judt or Jens Hegeler start to play the 4-1-4-1 they’ve been successful with. But instead of not changing a winning formation, Hecking decided to react to the opponent’s strategy (something that, in my opinion, every great coach should do, exploiting the weaknesses of the opponent is one of the best ways to make a win possible). He used a hybrid formation with Christian Eigler and at times Robert Mak as strikers, Mehmet Ekici as a central/attacking midfielder and Timothy Chandler (and to an extent Javier Pinola) as a wing back. Nürnberg congested the central midfield and all but eliminated Toni Kroos and Bastian Schweinsteiger (their again poor performances didn’t help) which caused Bayern to rely on the full-backs supporting the wingers and the center backs playing long balls. While Danijel Pranjic and even his replacement due to an injury, Diego Contento, tried to help, Philipp Lahm once again looked almost frightened to move forward.
Of course Bayern was dangerous every time they went past the midfield block, it was impossible for Nürnberg to cover Ribery and Robben with two or more men as the only player who could’ve helped (Timmy Simons) had to take care of Thomas Müller. Nürnberg themselves couldn’t create any promising scoring chances, as great as Chandler’s runs were, the crosses were ineffective (although I can’t blame him, he can’t do it all).
Aside from the early Müller goal, the first half featured a few more decent chances for Bayern but those were just as unsuccessful as Nürnberg’s long-range shots.
For the second half, van Gaal not only replaced Pranjic but also Toni Kroos who probably would’ve been sent off sooner or later. Anatoliy Tymoshchuk was supposed to take care of Kroos’ central midfield duties. He did that brilliantly in Freiburg but was a disappointment this time. Tymoshchuk probably played his worst match in months, he was almost invisible. The hosts continued to exert pressure without creating much when suddenly Thomas Kraft left the box but, instead of aiming for row Z, tried to play a fancy pass to Philipp Lahm who didn’t expect that at all. Christian Eigler reacted, tried his luck with a direct shot and scored when the match already looked like it’s gonna be another dirty but important 1-0 win.
Both teams then had a few decent chances but couldn’t score the game-winning goal (Mario Gomez probably should’ve), in the end a deserved tie that helps Nürnberg more because Hannover beat Mainz.
Not even 24 hours later, Louis van Gaal was sacked. While the results were great (10 points in 4 matches since the announcement that he and the club will part ways after the season), it was the way the team played that forced the club to react. Until the end of the season, assistant coach Andries Jonker takes over and tries to qualify for the Champions League in a Heynckesque way (see: 2008/09). Not only was that the last FCB match for van Gaal (and some of his assistants, including goalkeeper coach Frans Hoek), it most likely also was the last one for Thomas Kraft. Anything but a return of Jörg Butt would be a huge surprise.
Goals: 0-1 Müller (5′), 1-1 Eigler (60′)
1. FC Nürnberg: Jens Hegeler (Gündogan, 33′), Julian Schieber (Mak, 65′), Marek Mintal (Ekici, 82′)
FC Bayern: Diego Contento (Pranjic, 46′), Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (Kroos, 46′), Miroslav Klose (Müller, 62′)
Other Bundesliga matches:
Frankfurt v Bremen 1-1 (Fenin; Altintop OG)
Hamburg v Dortmund 1-1 (van Nistelrooy; Blaszczykowski)
Schalke v Wolfsburg 1-0 (Jurado)
Hannover v Mainz 2-0 (Ya Konan, Pinto)
Freiburg v Hoffenheim 3-2 (Schuster, Cisse, Butscher; Ibisevic, Babel)
Stuttgart v Kaiserslautern 2-4 (Kuzmanovic, Pogrebnyak; Lakic x2, Hoffer, Rivic)
Gladbach v Cologne 5-1 (Arango, Reus x2, Daems, Nordtveit; Novakovic)
Leverkusen v St. Pauli 2-1 (Kießling, Bender; Takyi)
Next match: Sunday v Leverkusen (Bundesliga), 3.30 pm local time