Bundesliga Week 20 Recap: Hamburg v Bayern 1-1

It wasn’t bad but not enough – Bayern’s away struggles continue with a draw in Hamburg, only one of the last four Bundesliga away matches was won. A failed project, a tactical indecision and a wrong scapegoat: here’s my recap.

Bayern fans couldn’t be sure: what are we supposed to make of that win against Wolfsburg? It wasn’t a beautiful but a deserved win. They dominated but again had problems to create enough scoring chances. The current FCB has to rely on set pieces, and this trend continued in Hamburg.

Jupp Heynckes had to make a change, the suspended Rafinha was, after long considerations what the best solution looks like, replaced by Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, the most conservative choice (this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s a problem that existed for only 90 minutes). Aside from that, no changes. HSV coach Thorsten Fink decided to let youngster Jacopo Sala and David Jarolim, unwanted just a few weeks ago, start. They used a two-striker system with Mladen Petric and Paolo Guerrero, two players who can hold the ball, something they often relied on.

The start was anything but good for Bayern. The hosts even dominated possession, they looked very determined and motivated, an early goal could’ve been scored but the headers weren’t accurate enough.

It took the guests 15 minutes to wake up, Franck Ribery’s shot was saved by Jaroslav Drobny, the following corner kick resulted in a goal that was disallowed because Mario Gomez pushed Heiko Westermann before the HSV defender scored an own goal (the push wasn’t the reason for the own goal, Gomez surely regrets that foul).

Bayern continued to at least try to attack, it was virtually impossible for the players to control the ball inside the opponent’s box, when all of a sudden Hamburg scored. A long ball ended up near Guerrero who played a pass to the completely unmarked Jacopo Sala (I’m still not sure who’s to blame but I saw that pass happen seconds before it actually did, someone should’ve been there) whose full risk volley found the back of the net. A beautiful goal with a ton of luck, such a shot completely misses the net 8 out of 10 times. But as Wayne Gretzky once said, you miss 100% of the shots you never take. Sala did, he had luck on his side and scored. And while it was a surprise at that time, the lead wasn’t undeserved.

The same story after that goal. Bayern tried but wasn’t able to create a good chance for Mario Gomez (or anyone inside the box for that matter), only Arjen Robben’s long-range shots were dangerous.

Speaking of Robben, I had to read that many blame him for the current struggles. Personally, I think that’s bullshit. Take a look at the lineup and you’ll realize that he had no support whatsoever. Right-back Tymoshchuk? Not existent offensively. Central midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos? Basically doing the same, focusing on the left flank. Offensive midfielder Thomas Müller? Almost always near Ribery or Gomez. There’s nothing Robben can to aside from taking long-range shots and trying to play the through ball to Gomez.

This leads me to the next point. I wanted to see the Kroos-Schweinsteiger pairing, I’m not afraid to admit that. However, what they do now is not what I had in mind. As I just said, they’re basically doing the same, Schweinsteiger is maybe a bit closer to the center backs. What I had in mind were two potential options.

Option 1: Call it a Barca midfield if you want to (I don’t). Schweinsteiger as the ‘6’, Kroos as the ‘8’. A natural focus on the left flank would exist, since both prefer that side, but you’d have clear tasks. Schweinsteiger as the maestro, the man who determines the direction and speed of the attack, and Kroos as playmaker, playing the dangerous passes to the areas that are unmarked because of Thomas Müller’s unpredictable movement. Four defenders (although full-backs are allowed to support the attack), five attackers and Bastian Schweinsteiger as bridge. It would look something like this:

Option 2: The balanced system. There you have them as equal central midfielders with similar roles for each flank. Kroos would take care of the left (he prefers the site and has the better left foot), interacting with Ribery, and Schweinsteiger of the right, interacting with Robben. You’d lose the onesidedness that helped Bayern dominate everything a few months ago but Arjen Robben would finally get some support, thus you also lose some predictability. This formation would look like this:

What we have now is some kind of bastard, a hybrid between the two options. Both the vertical and the horizontal position of the two is too similar. You need to change at least one of those. The current system looks like the following:

Unfortunately, it almost seems as if the only way Heynckes makes a decision here is to bring back a defensive midfielder (Tymoshchuk or Gustavo) and thus have a natural separation between Schweinsteiger and Kroos because the latter is the offensive midfielder even on paper.

Abruptly switching back to the match itself, Bayern again wasted the first 15 minutes of the half. The few chances they had were all fabulously stopped by Drobny, including a Thomas Müller shot from inside(!) the box. That brilliant save resulted in a corner kick that was used to finally score, of course using a set piece. There’s no need for an accurate description, this goal was as ugly as they get. Confusion, the ball somehow finds Ivica Olic who doesn’t have any problem from such a short distance.

Now it was a wild one. Hamburg, surprisingly and almost pleasantly, didn’t sit back and defend the point but attacked themselves. Both teams wanted three points, the biggest chances were wasted (HSV’s Son) or closely missed the target (Schweinsteiger’s long-range bomb). So the 90 minutes were over and we had a draw. Good? Bad? Neither team knew for sure. Hamburg showed a lovely performance and the guests weren’t extremely weak, either. Whether it’s alarming that Bayern can’t create real chances or a good sign that they’re only that one step away from playing great football is your decision. What we do know is that Rafinha will return to the lineup. Not only because this was only a 1-match ban but also because we learned that Anatoliy Tymoshchuk isn’t a right-back. Not solid defensively, invisible offensively, Heynckes ended this project after one hour.


  • 1-0 Sala (23′)
  • 1-1 Olic (71′)


  • Hamburger SV:
    • Heung-Min Son (Petric, 71′)
    • Ivo Ilicevic (Sala, 75′)
    • Robert Tesche (Jarolim, 90′)
  • FC Bayern:
    • David Alaba (Tymoshchuk, 61′)
    • Ivica Olic (Kroos, 64′)

Team stats (Hamburg-Bayern):

  • Ball possession: 39% – 61%
  • Shots taken: 13 – 21
  • Passes completed (in %): 188 – 424 (77% – 86%)
  • Corner kicks: 5 – 10
  • Tackles won: 51% – 49%
  • Fouls committed: 18 – 16
  • Distance covered: 115,4 – 115,9

Leading player stats (Hamburg-Bayern):

  • Touches: David Jarolim (58) – Bastian Schweinsteiger (100)
  • Shots taken: Mladen Petric (3) – Franck Ribery (6)
  • Passes completed: David Jarolim (35) – Philipp Lahm (67)
  • Crosses attempted: Aogo/Jansen (3 each) – Franck Ribery (4)
  • Tackles won: Heiko Westermann (18) – Badstuber/Schweinsteiger (13 each)
  • Tackles won in %: Heiko Westermann (78%) – Philipp Lahm (78%)
  • Distance covered: Marcell Jansen (11,9) – Thomas Müller (12,2)
  • Fastest sprint in km/h: Dennis Aogo (32,5) – Arjen Robben (31,8)

Other Bundesliga matches:

Bundesliga Football

Next match: Wednesday at Stuttgart (DFB-Pokal), 8.30 pm


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3 Responses to Bundesliga Week 20 Recap: Hamburg v Bayern 1-1

  1. I thought the last 15 minutes were shocking. While I can appreciate that everyone wanted to score the winner, it was still worrying how we completely broke out of any system, couldn’t get a pass completed and gave up all defense. We have to develop a game plan soon for the times we’re a goal behind since it’s happening a lot these days.

  2. Pekin83 says:

    A depressing but great recap.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Great recap mate keep it up 🙂

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