Football is a game of errors. All analysis of football is in fact the analysis of tiny errors, and it is for this reason the events of Saturday, April 21st of 2012 cannot be analyzed. FC Bayern’s journey to Bremen on that date was perhaps the closest I have ever come to observing that unattainable phenomenon that is perfection. This is a match that cannot be analyzed, for it existed no longer than those 90 minutes on that warm spring day in Bremen. Ah, time, you cheeky blighter.
Thomas Schaaf’s side kicked off under the fierce heat of the cruel Bremen sun. From the game’s formative minutes to its bitter end, the Grün-Weißen always looked up for a fight against a somewhat disinterested Bayern side comprised of bit part players. For 90 minutes, Bremen seemed the better team, playing a smooth passing game like chocolate hazelnut cream, yet despite this, Bayern still emerged victorious.
The first chance of the match occurred in the 2nd minute of play, as Nils Petersen got on the end of a delicious Takashi cross, masterfully guiding the ball wide of the net. Eight minutes later, the future Nuremberg reserve team icon repeated the trick, bungling Takashi Usami’s second sumptuous lofted cross/long ball/aphrodisiac straight into the arms of Tim Wiese.
In the 16th minute, Schaaf’s men would have their first real goalscoring opportunity of the match in the form of a Markus “Robert Scott” Rosenberg counterattack. The falcon nosed striker’s advances were rebuffed by Manuel Neuer, who received a (admittedly accidental) crack on the head at the hands of the sizeable Swede for his troubles. Within five minutes, Rosenberg would squander a second chance when he, like a whaler within a matter of feet from thrusting his harpoon into the blubber of a fine cetacean specimen received a lofted pass at the far post from the right wing, before skying the ball from four feet, to keep the scoreline at 0-0.
In the 17th minute, Naldo (surname not given) would pound a free kick high and wide above Manuel Neuer’s bar. While on an ordinary afternoon I would spit caustic scorn in the direction of the Brazilian defender, Bayern spent the last three weeks figuratively and literally blowing the championship over the bar, so who am I to cast derision?
Not long after Naldo decapitated the inhabitants of Row Z would Jupp Heynckes’ men squander a chance as elegant as the offspring of Ana Maria Crnogorcevic and the Palais des Tuileries. Our boys in red went five on four on a counterattack as promising as the 1849 California gold rush in the Bremen end, giving up the ball on the outside of the box through the trusted medium of Danijel Pranjic. From this point, the game picked up in tempo, a cheese (suisse) of a match riddled with counterattacks, squandered chances, routine Neuer saves, and the opposition taking the imperative. In other words, this was almost every other game Bayern have played in 2012.
The first half would close with little incident. The second half would reopen like Wembley stadium, late and distinctly underwhelming. In the 49th minute, Ivica Olic was passed through into the box, where he found himself tete-a-tete with that huge puddle of hair gel guarding Bremen’s goalmouth known as Tim Wiese. The Croatian striker charged at Wiese, executed a perfect Cruyff turn, pulled back his foot to blast the ball past the helpless Wiese and oh who am I fooling? Olic mystifyingly pulled his shot so wide that if this match had any relevance, it would genuinely be agonizing.
Oh, and how we would have rued that miss a minute later, if things had been different! They weren’t. In the 50th minute, Claudio Pizarro latched onto a sublime cross, and would have converted a seductive header were it not for Manuel Neuer’s outstretched hand. Bremen would not make the mistake of failing to score a second time, as Naldo would get his boot on the end of the resulting corner to put Bremen ahead by 1-0.
There are two possible explanations for the following course of events: either Naldo’s goal acted as a bucket of cold water to the head would to Jupp Heynckes, or Toni Kroos threw an actual bucket of water onto Shifty Eyes’ head. It would explain why five minutes later, the German holding midfielder entered the pitch (in place of Danijel Pranjic) completely drenched in some mysterious and unquantifiable liquid. He sat next to Mario on the bench, so perhaps it isn’t best to ask. Heynckes also took this moment to introduce Franck Ribery to the match.
The 67th minute saw the first casualty of saturday’s proceedings. Sky commentator Kai Dittmann, particularly taken in with a decent run by Claudio Pizarro, perished in the press box with a smile on his face, having shouted the Peruvian international’s name seven straight times, bellowing his appreciation for Borussia Dortmund in between. It was all in vain, as Pizarro could not finish what he started, and the score remained at 1-0 to the Grün-Weißen.
In the 69th minute, Mario Gomez strutted on to the pitch in place of Nils “useless” Petersen. The Don of Riedlingen’s substitution, as per usual, reignited a dormant Bayern. Seven minutes, two Rosenberg counterattacks, and a Kai Dittmann orgasm later, Heynckes’ final substitution proved effective, as Naldo, pressured by Gomez, pummelled the ball into his own net to even the scores at 1-1. Mario, taking pity on the hapless Bremen defender, came over and wrapped his arms around Naldo in a soothing embrace. He’s good like that.
As is so often the case, everything quieted down in the remaining fifteen minutes, and as is so often the case, the match had not yet reached its climax. With one minute to go, Franck Ribery was presented with the same chance his predecessor Olic had inherited. The Frenchman’s aim was both strong and true, and who was Tim Wiese to deny Bayern a last gap 2-1 victory at the Weserstadion? Who?
- Those “shots off target” don’t go down as well with Felix Magath as they do with Jupp Heynckes, Ivica.
- Bastian Schweinsteiger’s performance today was, as has been the case the last few weeks, uninspiring. I never thought a time would come when I would say this, but I miss Phillip Lahm as captain.
- Kai Dittmann, for some reason given sole custody of the microphone at today’s match, was in a celebratory mood at the news that Dortmund could lay their filthy hands on a second consecutive title. Dittmann, in a futile attempt to preserve a shred of dignity, decided to put on his best Fritz von Thurn und Taxis impersonation for 90 minutes, making curt, unenlightening observations and shouting “BVB DEUTSCHER MEISTER” for 2 minutes after Naldo’s opening goal before realizing that it was in fact Bremen who had scored, and that there was still 20 or so minutes remaining in the game.
- Is David Alaba an important enough player that he has earned the right to be benched in meaningless games, or have I, in my disillusion, not been paying attention to suspensions?
- How did Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and Luiz Gustavo play alongside each other in defence and only concede a goal between them?
- As you have likely already heard, Dortmund officially won the title against ‘Gladbach today at the Westfalenstadion. Congratulations are naturally due in the form of small bear shaped cupcakes, possibly filled with cyanide.
- Takashi Usami played a decent game today. While he still needs to iron out some of the rougher edges of his game, the talent is definitely there. I can see him going on to becoming a quietly influential piece in a top four side.
- Why didn’t we play Nils Petersen as often as some would have liked? Watch this game, and see why.
- Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery seemed to have settled their quarrel today. A shame, I think Bild could have squeezed some more blood from that particular stone.
- 1-0 Naldo (51′)
- 1-1 Naldo (OG, 75′)
- 1-2 Ribery (90′)
- Werder Bremen:
- Marko Arnautovic (Trinks, 68′)
- Niclas Füllkrug (Rosenberg, 81′)
- FC Bayern:
- Franck Ribery (Olic, 64′)
- Toni Kroos (Pranjic, 64′)
- Mario Gomez (Petersen, 70′)
Team stats (Werder-Bayern):
- Ball possession: 44% – 56%
- Shots taken: 16 – 14
- Passes completed (in %): 329 – 491 (83% – 86%)
- Corner kicks: 4 – 2
- Tackles won: 51% – 49%
- Fouls committed: 15 – 11
- Distance covered: 125,1 – 120,9
Leading player stats (Werder-Bayern):
- Touches: Stevanovic/Trybull (77 each) – Rafinha (122)
- Shots taken: Naldo/Junuzovic/Rosenberg (3 each) – Nils Petersen (4)
- Passes completed: Tom Trybull (57) – Rafinha (84)
- Crosses attempted: Markus Rosenberg (4) – Takashi Usami (4)
- Tackles won: Naldo (20) – Diego Contento (15)
- Tackles won in %: Naldo (83%) – Luiz Gustavo (67%)
- Distance covered: Tom Trybull (13,7) – Bastian Schweinsteiger (12,6)
- Fastest sprint in km/h: Francois Affolter (32,3) – Danijel Pranjic (33,9)
Next match: Wednesday at Madrid (Champions League), 8.45 pm