The return of Robbery or: How to beat an underachieving team without playing brilliantly because the opponents refuse to use the formula for success.
You know it, I’ll start with the lineups. No Rafinha, no Robben – that’s all I have to say, now you know what starting eleven was fielded. Bremen’s Thomas Schaaf went with the expected, as well. Claudio Pizarro was fit enough to start, Sebastian Mielitz replaced Tim Wiese who decided to support his mother after her husband had passed away earlier this week, Marko Marin had to start because Mehmet Ekici’s injury prevented him from returning to his former home and Alexander Ignjovski won the battle for left-back glory against Lukas Schmitz. You don’t have to be an expert to know that Bremen always uses a diamond midfield (probably club constitution).
While saying it’s an outdated approach because of a formation would be stupid, it’s certainly correct to say that based on Schaaf’s strategy. We all had to witness how to beat Bayern – pressing, isolating by building multiple walls, pressing, quick attacking and pressing.
Bremen didn’t do much of that. Let’s compare the numbers with the ones of recent Bayern beaters Mainz and Dortmund.
Bremen completed more passes (223) than the other two (184, 200) and had a significantly higher passing accuracy (79%; 72%, 72%). Sounds good? Nope. More passes means you need more time to build attacks. The higher accuracy also hints at slower attacks and furthermore tells us that Bremen didn’t play enough risky through passes.
Pressing? Not really, either. Bremen’s covered distance of 112km is paltry compared to the ones of Mainz (120) and Dortmund (121). Pressing doesn’t really work without running. Thomas Schaaf, you chose a completely wrong strategy (or your team was too stupid to understand the different concept).
That, however, doesn’t mean that Bayern played particularly well. It was a solid performance, mediocre, not more. The discussion you are all tired of, central midfielders. Luiz Gustavo and David Alaba again disappointed. That’s subjective? How about this for objectivity: Luiz Gustavo only won 33% of the tackles, David Alaba only managed to win a shocking 25%. The Brazilian lost the ball two out of three times, the Austrian three out of four. To compare, Bastian Schweinsteiger’s season average is 54%. The good news is that, according to kicker, he’ll return to the lineup against Köln in about two weeks. And Anatoliy Tymoshchuk’s ban is finally over again, just in time to save us from a Gustavo who has suffered from a massive loss of form since travelling with the Brazilian national team. Until then, just let me mention that Toni Kroos won 58% of his battles against Bremen. A broken record that still sounds better than the current one.
To be fair, not every Bayern player was terrible. Apart from the aforementioned Kroos, there are, in my opinion, three other guys who deserve special praise: Franck Ribery, Philipp Lahm and Arjen Robben.
Ribery was the nightmare of the journalist/blogger/stadium announcer’s nightmare, Sokratis Papastathopoulos. Always inferior in terms of speed, not even his physicality stopped the French winger.
Still, this wouldn’t have been possible without the support of a guy many, me definitely included, have criticized lately: Philipp Lahm. Defensively sound and very willing to join the attack, he was the main reason why Werder captain Clemens Fritz was a non-factor.
And Arjen Robben. Oh, Robben. Avoiding to even mention the media bullshit (you already get enough of that if you follow me on Twitter), he was superb. It’s no coincidence that Bayern regained control when he entered the pitch. Active, very often the right decisions, with a burning desire to prove them all wrong.
The first half is nothing more than a short story. Bayern did okay, Bremen was horrible (I already mentioned reasons) but the hosts only scored once. David Alaba won a tackle (no snarky remark because he’s still young) and played a perfect pass with his weaker foot (praise because that’s always a great thing) at the hands or, more precisely, at the feet of Franck Ribery. Ribery ran, Thomas Müller showed great movement to create space and confuse the defender. That confusion was just enough for Ribery to show the ball where the back of the net is.
At half time, I was wondering if this result’s a bad thing. It didn’t make Bremen remain hopeless. Turns out that I was right, unfortunately.
The second half started almost soporifically until, out of nowhere, Bremen sub Markus Rosenberg equalized. A rabbit punch for Munich. Bayern suddenly lost control, a poor Bremen woke up. Thanks to Jupp Heynckes, that didn’t even last 10 minutes. He introduced Arjen Robben and, as mentioned before, they immediately regained control.
Bayern was awarded a penalty (no, Klaus Allofs, not a conspiracy) and who else but Robben converted. Mario Gomez scored a lovely goal that was wrongly disallowed (where’s your conspiracy now, Mr Allofs), Franck Ribery scored an easy one thanks to Gomez (I don’t understand the fans’ complaints here, Ribery faced the goal whereas Gomez didn’t. Imagine the outrage if Gomez took the shot and missed.) and Bayern was awarded another penalty (calling Allofs), again converted by Robben, again followed by complaints I don’t agree with. First of all, if there’s anyone who needs a boost of confidence, it’s Robben. Aside from that, who successfully took care of the first one? Exactly. And who missed a few penalties recently? Yep, Gomez. So why would it be the right decision to let the striker shoot? That, at least to me, is just as stupid as complaining that Heynckes didn’t replace Neuer with Butt to let the veteran shoot.
To complete Allofs’ conspiracy, Aaron Hunt was sent off despite not even touching Kroos with those two high-flying feet. How dare you don’t take it like a man and allow Hunt to break your legs, Kroos? Sissy. Claudio Pizarro massaging Holger Badstuber’s chest with his elbow shall go unmentioned.
All in all, a very disappointing Bremen missed the opportunity to beat an insecure Bayern team. But I’m not gonna complain about that. Many other Bayern fans already do that job for me. Next up, Man City. Or, looking at the standings, Meh City. A loss wouldn’t hurt a lot. Unlike many bones if Nigel de Jong plays.
- 1-0 Ribery (22′)
- 1-1 Rosenberg (52′)
- 2-1 Robben (69′)
- 3-1 Ribery (77′)
- 4-1 Robben (83′)
- FC Bayern:
- Arjen Robben (Alaba, 60′)
- Diego Contento (Müller, 90′)
- Danijel Pranjic (Ribery, 90′)
- Werder Bremen:
- Markus Rosenberg (Arnautovic, 46′)
- Sandro Wagner (Marin, 74′)
- Wesley (Rosenberg, 84′)
Team stats (Bayern-Bremen):
- Ball possession: 60% – 40%
- Shots taken: 13 – 6
- Passes completed (in %): 461 – 223 (87% – 79%)
- Corner kicks: 8 – 4
- Tackles won: 45% – 55%
- Fouls committed: 23 – 20
- Distance covered: 109,4 – 112,0
Leading player stats (Bayern-Bremen):
- Touches: Philipp Lahm (110) – Andreas Wolf (57)
- Shots taken: Franck Ribery (3) – 6 players (1 each)
- Passes completed: Philipp Lahm (72) – Andreas Wolf (31)
- Crosses attempted: Boateng/Ribery/Kroos (2 each) – Fritz/Arnautovic (2 each)
- Tackles won: Thomas Müller (14) – Philipp Bargfrede (18)
- Tackles won in %: Holger Badstuber (61%) – Naldo (75%)
- Distance covered: Luiz Gustavo (11,2) – Philipp Bargfrede (12,2)
- Fastest sprint in km/h: Gomez/Gustavo (31,4) – Andreas Wolf (31,5)
Other Bundesliga matches:
- Leverkusen v Hoffenheim 2-0 (Derdiyok, Sam)
- Freiburg v Hannover 1-1 (Cisse; Bastians OG)
- Lautern v Hertha 1-1 (Hubnik OG; Raffael)
- Wolfsburg v Mainz 2-2 (Mandzukic, Kirchhoff OG; Ivanschitz, Choupo-Moting)
- Gladbach v Dortmund 1-1 (Hanke; Lewandowski)
- Stuttgart v Köln 2-2 (Gentner x2; Podolski x2)
- Hamburg v Nürnberg 2-0 (Guerrero, Jansen)
- Schalke v Augsburg 3-1 (Huntelaar, Fuchs, Raul; Mölders)
Next match: Wednesday at Man City (Champions League), 8.45 pm