After a thrilling two weeks of dismantling white shirted teams both at home and abroad, FC Bayern will themselves don the shades of nuptial mourning as they travel a few miles north to that sunless polar region of Bavaria known to its hapless inhabitants as Nürnberg. While recent form throws Bayern her scarf, Nürnberg’s habit of consistently jamming out a draw against their Old Bavarian neighbours year after year should, like FC Basel’s Champions League ambitions, not be underestimated. I, as a practitioner of life’s most daunting and socially valuable occupation, the disciple of football blogging, am naturally not one to underexaggerate this match, and I will, ergo, stress the point that this match could feasibly make or break our season, with a heavy emphasis placed upon the shoulders of the “could”. Nevertheless, we should look to depart Franconia with a sum of points equivalent to the amount of
children Kevin Grosskreutz has illegitimately fathered legs on the flag of Sicily.
Both of these sides have a rich and successful history. Bayern have laid their hands on the salad bowl a record 22 times, while Nürnberg have been relegated from the Bundesliga an unprecedented 7 times. Bayern have won the European Cup on 4 separate occasions, the same amount of times Nürnberg have strolled home with the 2. Bundesliga title under their arm. In recent years, however, both have struggled to match their traditional form, as Bayern slumped to the most depressing third placed finish ever attained, and Nürnberg disgracing their heritage and ending the campaign in a shocking sixth placed berth that caused threats of riots from some ultras groups, thankfully diffused ahead of time by the intrepid efforts of the Nürnberg police. With both clubs marginally underachieving again, tensions are likely to run high. Wearing colours should be alright, though.
Bayern, as has been documented between the immaterial pages of this blog, have been on a spectacular run of form in the last few weeks. Since the 2-0 defeat in Leverkusen at the beginning of the month, the Bavarians have yet to lose a game, scoring in such numbers that would make (Alain) Casanova blush. And yet as George Harrison told us, all things must pass, and what more inopportune an occasion for Bayern to spectacularly implode than now?
Nürnberg, for their part, have lost three on the bounce, first to a Mainz side that once capitulated 4-0 to Hoffenheim, then to Felix Magath’s wunderwolves, and finally to Stuttgart. Der Club currently reside in 11th in the Bundesliga table, with the crucial advantages of four points and not being directed by Michael Preetz. The Franconians are coached by Dieter H**king, who has a swear word in his name completely unsuitable for a nice, family blog such as this.
Jupp Heynckes will likely select the same starting lineup that he has deployed the last three weeks. Manuel “Moby Dick” Neuer will keep vigil over our goal and have every error he makes, however minute, endlessly scrutinized. Holger “Captain Ahab” Badstuber and Jerome Boateng, strategically positioned in the centre of defence, will allow Neuer to make a few magnificent saves. Phillip Bonaparte, operating at right back, will be given the armband, while his left-sided counterpoint, David Alaba, will provide width for the Nürnberg offence. In the two holding midfield slots it would be no great surprise to see Luiz Gustavo play Wooster to Toni Kroos’ Jeeves, while higher up the pitch, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery will provide crosses and mistimed passes to Mario Gomez. Thomas Müller will likely drop in the hole behind the Schwabian stunner. Alternatively, we could see Schweinsteiger play alongside Gustavo and Kroos moved higher up the pitch, with Müller removed from the lineup, but this all depends on whether or not Osram is ready to throw the pig climber in at the deep end immediately or whether he would like to keep his trophy on a shelf, where it will stay nice and dry and not get injured again until he falls off his chair in the most effortlessly cool manner while nonchalantly tossing crisps into his mouth at your local grocery store.
In last week’s 1-0 demolition at Stuttgart (rated a 68% on Bundesliga.de’s “hot game factor”. Please, please, please do not ask.), H**king’s lineup read: “Raphael Schäfer; Markus Feulner, Dominic Maroh, Philipp Wollscheid, Javier Pinola; Hanno Balitsch, Timmy Simons; Timothy Chandler, Daniel Didavi, Adam Hlousek; Alexander Esswein”. Esswein, a former third division player of the month, has been ruled out for the remainder of the season. H**king was always likely to tinker with his lineup, considering the mauling dealt to his charges in Schwabia last week. We’ll see.
Elsewhere, The Very Model Of A Modern Major Football Club will be in action against the very same Stuttgart that laid waste to our Bavarian chums. Labbadia’s lads, currently the league’s joint top side over the last five games, ground out a draw in the corresponding hinrunde fixture. I’m not one to tempt fate, but this is as good a chance as we’ll ever have of going three points behind the Schwarzgelben.
When all is said and done, we are Bayern, and Nürnberg are not Bayern, a fact you should always remember, particularly when the elevator you’re in breaks down and you’re stuck in the shaft for two hours with a bloke from Franconia. Despite the curse of the white shirts, I predict a victory, albeit a slender 2-0, over Der Club, with goals provided by Mario Gomez and the otherwise mediocre Arjen Robben. Whatever works.