The first points of the Bundesliga season against Felix Magath’s Diego-less team. Luiz Gustavo’s late goal secured the win.
This recap is written by Hanna Fredsberg (follow on Twitter) who you might remember from last season’s recap v Stuttgart. If you do, you already know how great her recaps are. If you don’t, you’re gonna find out soon. One last thing before we start: please provide us with feedback via comments or Twitter. If the majority of you enjoys this, Hanna might write recaps on a regular basis (that would give me more time to think about and write other articles).
What to say? There were certainly many things I personally thought of post-game last Saturday. I mean, didn’t we all? Moreover, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one feeling torn between emotions. Relief – 3 points bagged. Frustration – because let’s face it, they weren’t exactly well deserved. And then just the general “it sure is tough to love you, Bayern” feeling we all fight through every once in a while. The season prior to this one, and the start to this new campaign, certainly more than every once in a while. No matter though, I’m not here to talk feelings. I’d rather analyze them for a bit instead.
It was relatively easy to guess Jupp wouldn’t change the lineup drastically from the opening night at home. And he didn’t, not drastically (Mönchengladbach lineup was Neuer – Lahm, Badstuber, Boateng, Rafinha – Gustavo, Schweinsteiger – Müller, Kroos, Robben – Gomez while Wolfsburg lineup was Neuer – Lahm, Badstuber, Boateng, Rafinha – Gustavo, Schweinsteiger – Ribery, Kroos, Müller – Gomez) Needless to say there was some shuffling up top, with Robben being out and Ribery in return starting, but otherwise there would be no changes.
Now, I’m not only negative to this match. That’s got to be said. Bayern looked livelier, albeit starting out with a game of hoof ball which often looked very, very sloppy. You could look at it in two ways – either the balls were simply to nobody, or everybody at the back anticipated Mario to always be kilometers offside to retrieve it. Your pick.
Either way, as I was saying. They, by no means, looked as dull as opening week. However, I can’t say I myself thought the win was exactly, well deserved. Bayern lucked out, and Luiz Gustavo did too. As is the case with Gustavo, he often comes in both hard and untimely, resulting in bad tackles. Such as the one on Koo minutes before the GWG (game winning goal, if you’re not familiar with the term). Not that it was the only thing Bayern did luck out on, though. As has been largely noticed since Van Gaal 10-11, you note (when you read note, think of it as a huge, fat arrow in red neon) that everyone can largely anticipate the tactics. It’s easy to simply split up what Bayern are doing. Which consists largely of either running with the ball and maintaining possession, however, keeping the ball not moving quickly enough, but simply holding it for extended time. It’s ineffective; about as ineffective as it is hoofing balls up to Gomez or sloppily crossing it to him. Because let’s face it, those weren’t pretty crosses.
Ribery, I thought, looked good in himself. Since the attacking unit in general didn’t produce much to rejoice over, he’s not getting a 10/10. But when he wasn’t being swarmed by up to 4 players, his quickness and ability to dribble was top-notch at several points. Müller, on the other side, as we all know operate best in central mid. He’s not especially effective, compared to what he can be, on the wing for Bayern, who’re playing with rather conservative wings when Gomez is up top. Kroos has shown clever touches, albeit continues to be ineffective in the role he’s used in. Then again, I think he’ll thrive. Many seem to forget he’s as young as he is, I think, and he has big upside.
Also, I think Schweinsteiger looked a lot better 2nd half. He took more initiatives, driving forward and leaving Gustavo to anchor. It’d certainly be an option which probably would work better, if he was used as a more attack advancing option, rather than dropping back.
I’m not doing the Blame Everything On Mario, either. Accept reality as a fact – he didn’t get anything impressive thrown at him, and we know he has to have something thrown at him. He’s not the type of forward who is especially versatile and creative on his own. He’s a finisher, and that in the most typical sense of the word. So let’s drop it, because I know you’re a vast majority thinking it. I’m right, yeah, I know.
As I’ve been getting into a bit without actually touching upon it – I thought the 2nd half looked better. Bastian drove forward, as I also mentioned, and generally they looked more in sync with each other. Like they were, in fact, starting to ‘get it’. In the Schweinsteiger situation, well, Gustavo can well do the stay at home part, that Bastian started going on the offense was nice to see.
Have you noticed these are more like 30 thoughts than an actual recap? I can’t decide if that’s good or not, but I’m improvising a bit anyway, I never did have a decided upon Recap Style™.
Usami got his Bundesliga debut, as well. Not the most earth shattering debut which was ever seen, but we’ve all seen his potential. And we also know how well the Robbery duo does injuries by heart. As well as Heynckes being good at rotating his squad. He’s definitely a promise for the future, if not the immediate salvation (that nobody expected him to be anyway, however).
As for now, well, we know Lahm, we know Rafinha. Neuer looked better between the poles too. A few more games and I think he’ll settle. However, there’s literally no communication (and if there is, it’s a massive failure many a times) between him and his CBs. My tweet on the issue was something along the lines of Sometimes I wonder if Boateng knows positional play. Age definitely isn’t an excuse, and I’m not using it as one, but the CB pair of Boateng+Badstuber isn’t like the one of two seasoned vets, exactly. And when it comes down to it, experience plays big a part in many aspects of the game (hello, Mark Van Bommel and how people realized what an important role he had at Bayern after he left.) Although I won’t say they played badly, they looked averagely solid at the very least.
As for Wolfsburg, since this isn’t all about Bayern, even if it is a Bayern-centric piece. Magath’s side looked well, I’d say. Quick on the counter, and especially in the first half, their two forwards worked well against the Bayern defense. Schäfer very dangerous, and Josue looked extra ordinary. Kjær and Russ also looked big and strong both of them, often out-muscling the smaller forwards in Ribery (and Müller, whenever he actually got there), in one on ones. Gustavo was left a lot of space though, for the goal, which, needless to say, shouldn’t have happened.
All in all, or the tl;dr version for you all who can’t take this chick’s ramblings: There were some positives to get from the game, and also a whole lot of, less positive things. But I expect them to figure out the how’s and the when’s soon enough. Given a few more games, I feel like it’ll click.
Goals: 0-1 Luiz Gustavo (90′)
VfL Wolfsburg: Askhan Dejagah (Ochs, 46′), Ja-Cheol Koo (Salihamidzic, 69′), Srdjan Lakic (Helmes, 88′)
FC Bayern: Takashi Usami (Müller, 69′), Ivica Olic (Kroos, 86′), Daniel van Buyten (Usami, 90′)
Other Bundesliga matches:
Schalke v Köln 5-1 (Huntelaar x3, Holtby, Raul; Podolski)
Hamburg v Hertha 2-2 (Petric, Son; Torun, Mijatovic)
Nürnberg v Hannover 1-2 (Pekhart; Abdellaoue, Rausch)
Freiburg v Mainz 1-2 (Cisse; Risse, Choupo-Moting)
Hoffenheim v Dortmund 1-0 (Salihovic)
Gladbach v Stuttgart 1-1 (Daems; Cacau)
Lautern v Augsburg 1-1 (Shechter; Mölders)
Leverkusen v Bremen 1-0 (Kadlec)
Next match: Wednesday v FC Zürich (CL qualification), 8.45 pm local time