An angry FCB is a dangerous FCB – this might be the lesson Schalke learned yesterday. Completely dominated, the guests’ hopes for the league title shrunk while Bayern regained that valuable confidence.
The lineups: Schalke coach Huub Stevens didn’t change a thing, he fielded the same eleven who played 120 minutes against Plzen three days earlier. For Bayern, Luiz Gustavo, highly unsurprisingly, replaced Anatoliy Tymoshchuk again, a change that’s almost not worthy of mention anymore. One of the ‘big four’ had to be benched, this time it was Toni Kroos. There were two big reasons for this: first, Kroos’ latest performances have been disappointing, he was invisible in Freiburg and Basel while Ribery, Müller and Robben all played at least one good half.
The second reason is a tactical one. With Bastian Schweinsteiger still injured, Toni Kroos is the only remaining true playmaker available. Usually a good thing, recently there’s been a lot of criticism that the Bayern style is too static, too slow, too predictable. So while Jupp Heynckes risked losing control (and that very much was the case, only 52% ball possession for Bayern), he wanted his players to benefit from that loss. More mobility, less predictability, creating more unusual situations the opponent doesn’t expect, all the things the side recently lacked.
And it worked. Schalke started as the team in control of possession but couldn’t create chances so they soon retracted again. When Bayern took over, it became obvious pretty quickly: this offense is committed to the wings. Arjen Robben enjoyed the battles against Christian Fuchs, Franck Ribery entertained Benedikt Höwedes and Thomas Müller was everywhere, keeping Schalke’s defensive midfield busy like a cashier on Black Friday.
Unfortunately, they forgot to score a goal. Sometimes the final pass wasn’t good enough, other times the shots were somehow stopped by Timo Hildebrand – the non-existent lead was well-deserved. Luckily, Hildebrand then decided that the result was unfair so he left the box despite two Schalke defenders being near the sprinting Franck Ribery. The Frenchman was faster and cool enough to put the ball into the empty net. You could almost smell the relief at that moment.
A controversial scene is the Luiz Gustavo challenge that lead to the goal. I prefer not to talk about refs here but let me say this much: a free kick for Schalke would’ve been an understandable decision but, at least in my opinion, this was no clear foul but a classic 50/50 situation. Annoying for S04 fans, it wouldn’t be any different had it been the other way around, but not the referee’s mistake. One last thing: David Alaba’s pass was absolutely beautiful.
At half-time, Bayern fans (and surely the players and staff, as well) were wondering how it’s just a one-goal lead. The players had to enter the pitch for the second half knowing that a single mistake would bring back the same problems again. That feeling peaked when Holger Badstuber’s header smacked the crossbar like Bobby Brown…no, too soon, I guess. The situation resulted in a royal blue (the whitest shade of blue in Munich) counter attack and bad positioning by, I think it was the otherwise great Philipp Lahm, gave Joel Matip the big chance to equalize but his shot went wide. After all that bad luck, a refreshing bit of fortune that it was the defensive midfielder/center back Matip and not one of Schalke’s attackers who shot that ball.
What followed was a one-man show. Franck Ribery was partying like it’s 2007, he would’ve kept the ball even against 21 opponents. And since his teammates
were too stupid didn’t want to score, Ribery took care of it himself, beating Timo Hildebrand with a shot that might’ve been a tiny bit deflected by Kyriakos Papadopoulos (who, in my humble opinion, has the potential to become a world-class defender in a few years).
That goal all but decided the match. All but because there were still more than 30 minutes for Schalke to start dangerous attacks. They couldn’t, for whatever reason. Maybe they were exhausted, maybe Bayern defended so well, maybe they didn’t want to. Fran(c)kly, I couldn’t care less, an all in all comfortable win for Bayern was just what the doctor ordered. Only Mario Gomez wanted a bit too much.
Next up: an international break, including the following guys.
- Germany (Badstuber, Müller, Kroos, Gomez, Neuer, Boateng, without Lahm) v France (Ribery)
- Netherlands (Robben) v England (now without evil foreign coach)
- Austria (Alaba) v Finland (probably with Jari Litmanen because he’s always there)
- Ukraine (Tymoshchuk) v Israel (insert joke here, I can’t think of any)
- Croatia (Olic, Pranjic) v Sweden (Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a bunch of others)
Enjoy those matches or don’t, I will.
- 1-0 Ribery (36′)
- 2-0 Ribery (55′)
- FC Bayern:
- Ivica Olic (Gomez, 72′)
- Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (Müller, 89′)
- Schalke 04:
- Chinedu Obasi (Draxler, 57′)
- Lewis Holtby (Matip, 65′)
- Atsuto Uchida (Metzelder, 84′)
Team stats (Bayern-Schalke):
- Ball possession: 52% – 48%
- Shots taken: 20 – 9
- Passes completed (in %): 406 – 370 (85% – 86%)
- Corner kicks: 10 – 3
- Tackles won: 49% – 51%
- Fouls committed: 10 – 15
- Distance covered: 116,8 – 113,5
Leading player stats (Bayern-Schalke):
- Touches: Philipp Lahm (96) – Marco Höger (80)
- Shots taken: Müller/Robben (5 each) – Raul (2)
- Passes completed: Philipp Lahm (70) – Marco Höger (51)
- Crosses attempted: Ribery/Müller (2 each) – Farfan (7)
- Tackles won: Franck Ribery (17) – Kyriakos Papadopoulos (17)
- Tackles won in %: Jerome Boateng (68%) – Höwedes/Metzelder (58% each)
- Distance covered: David Alaba (12,2) – Marco Höger (11,8)
- Fastest sprint in km/h: Rafinha (31,9) – Jefferson Farfan (31,9)
Other Bundesliga matches:
Next match: Saturday at Leverkusen (Bundesliga), 3.30 pm