Mission Champions League accomplished – well done, Andries Jonker! While Bayern couldn’t avoid that pesky qualification because Leverkusen won in Freiburg, it was a nice way to end the season that started terrible, was on shaky ground for a very long time and concluded in a propitiating way.
For the last match of the season, I’m glad to be able to present you a truly well-written, informative recap by Swedish FCB fan Hanna Fredsberg (Follow on Twitter: @hfredsberg). Without further ado, here it is:
There is something that every Bayern fan can agree on, despite differences, despite differing opinions on what could have been done. On what wasn’t done, on what was simply missing. On what was done, but not done well enough — we’re all glad this 10/11 season has finally come to an end.
The closing game played at the Allianz is the official drape going down. You could argue it was over last week, with the 8-1 thrashing of relegation threatened St. Pauli. But in the words of Mario Gomez – “I’m aiming to turn in a good performance this Saturday.” There is something that has to be done. Closing out the season as a worthy team is perhaps what is the most important aspect of this game. There will be no trophies for Bayern this season, with the exception of Gomez’s award for most goals of the season.
Bayern starts the game in the new 11/12 kits, perhaps fitting for the occasion. The line up is no surprising, Jonker has made it clear who is in his starting XI ever since he was installed at the top, and the only real change is Contento who has been opted to start ever since there had to be certain changes done with Pranjic out injured.
That is, a 4-2-3-1 formation with Klose playing center behind Gomez, Müller moved wide out to the left with Ribery out of the line up, and Robben to the right. Schweinsteiger and Tymoshchuk are the building stones of the midfield, while Contento, Badstuber, Van Buyten and Lahm start in the back.
Nothing much happens in the first half worth writing about. Robben, who ends his injury plagued season with 12 goals and 8 assists, serves Miroslav Klose on a silver plate, a golden opportunity to end his season with a handful of substitution features, a few starts, and even fewer goals (had he managed, it would have been the striker’s 2nd goal of the season). Alas, someone up there won’t have it.
Klose grows frustrated as he can’t convert from the chances created (notably 1 which goes wide, 1 which goes over the bar) and Bayern and Stuttgart play pointless back and forth football for a good 25 minutes before anything of interest happens.
Stuttgart’s Shinji Okazaki puts his team ahead with a great finish off of Martin Harnik’s superb cross. Time to crash the net for the Bavarian home side if they want to come off with anything. Fans should know that hasn’t all too often been the case this season, as goalless first halves have resulted in more goalless second halves.
Harnik, assister on Stuttgart’s only goal, will answer for a blunder of his own, though. A glaringly missed open netter that probably stung equally hard on him as Miroslav Klose’s own miss from merely yards outside the box did him.
However, minute 37, 12 minutes after Okazaki opens the deadlock: Robben assists beautifully on Gomez’s 39th and final goal of the season. The remaining minutes aren’t all that very notable either. The only exception being a rocket of a shot from Pogrebnyak that Butt is just able to tip over his bar.
The 2nd half is brighter for Bayern. Stuttgart fails to capitalize on the draw, and Bayern dominate play that is reminiscent of not the possession football often used, but of playing a more direct football, which benefits the current team better. Stats shown below will indicate that.
Stats from the latest weeks have shown a direct rapid decrease in passes created and completed, versus earlier in the season. Whereas it has been around the 600 mark previously, today Bayern created only 398 passes, and held possession for 56% of the game. That stat isn’t wholly alien, but Stuttgart themselves created a total of 305 passes, and stands with a possession stat of 43%. Completed passes go on 81% for Bayern, and 77% for Stuttgart.
The Game Winning Goal, if you allow me to use hockey terms, by Bastian Schweinsteiger himself, is a header scored off of Toni Kroos’ header. Kroos, who spent the majority of the second half of the season injured, and then placed on the bench, didn’t have a huge impact when he came on for Klose, but he nonetheless did his part. Including, assisting on Schweinsteiger’s goal.
Bayern finish the remaining ~20 minutes off rather comfortably, if not a bit lazily, since Stuttgart desperately try to level the score with a few dangerous attempts. A few, most noticeably Kuzmanovic’s very dangerous free kick, do leave Bayern more exposed than I’d like to see them, but the score will stand 2-1 after a minute of overtime. There is, I would like to say, the season in a nutshell – this win.
Bayern have had their games of brilliance, of when they have been Bayern München, and stood proud and said “this isn’t where we want to be, but HERE is where we want to aim to be” even as Van Gaal dictates the team into playing a set in stone formation that is steeled to the point of players having to bend out of position. But they’ve also been tired. And without will or perhaps simply the energy, to challenge. Especially challenge the young Dortmund, who finishes their season 10 points up on Bayern.
But it’s over, is it not? And I doubt there’s much more you could wish for, as a Bayern fan, than to finish this season unbeaten under your temporary caretaker manager, coming off a 8-1 win to cap off the season with 2-1, and Champions League qualification. Summer is here, the new home kits are worn in a win, and Bayern do get one trophy this season – Gomez’ top striker one.
Mario Gomez will finish his season with 39 goals in all competitions. In the Bundesliga, he has 28 goals and 2 assists. We say congratulations to him, who’s proved perhaps every single Bayern fan wrong since last season with his new scoring record. He’s no longer the strict one way forward that is the Bundesliga’s most expensive signing throughout history.
Captain Philipp Lahm finishes his season as a consecutive starter in 110 games for his club. I’m not sure, period, what we would do without this absolute world-class rock in the back line who is always there.
A cheeky record, that is nonetheless a record: Andries Jonker remains unbeaten as head coach of Bayern München.
Bayern will fail to clinch 2nd, as Leverkusen win away at Freiburg with a 1-0 win. Congrats to Bayer, and we’ll see you in the Champions League (hopefully, anyway), next season!
Other Bundesliga news is Dortmund, who managed a 3-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt at a full, yellow and black Signal Iduna Park. The top 3 reads Dortmund, already title winners, at 75 points. Leverkusen in 2nd with 68 points. And Bayern in 3rd, CL qualifying spot, with 65 points.
Thomas Kraft, Andreas Ottl and Hamit Altintop were given flower bouquets and a big goodbye by the Allianz since this would be all of theirs last game for the club, on the bench or not. The 22-year-old Kraft, who was presented with the #1 by Van Gaal for a brief period of time, will depart to Hertha Berlin on what is likely a 3 year contract. Hamit Altintop will go as a free agent, most likely to Real Madrid, and Andreas Ottl is most likely also off to Hertha.
More, brief transfer news, since the off-season officially has arrived for Bayern now, is that Nils Petersen reportedly will seal the deal with the club the coming week. Neuer is as always on the map, but the situation is reported unchanged since the huge break a couple of weeks ago. Nerlinger comments on the Coentrão rumors: “It is a fabrication. We do not want Fabio Coentrão.” (quote via Luke at fcbayernreport.com) But with Van der Wiel rumors left out in the cold and a deal unlikely to happen, I won’t put much faith in that statement.
That’s everything from me, from this season of Bayern’s, which has been a giant mess of frustration, frustration, and more frustration. And we’ll hope to see a stronger Bayern put their mark on the season 11/12, both domestically and in Europe, with Jupp Heynckes as the top man!