Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Review of Bayern/Bremen Match

Werder Bremen 0 – 4 Bayern Munich

If the idea of Bayern being unstoppable was being bandied about after the Ligapokal and a home victory over a promotion side, then a road win over one of the teams one would expect to contend for the title, must assuredly seal the deal. While Bayern have looked impressive, there is still a long way to go for a club that has rebuilt itself over the summer. The thorough victory over rival Werder Bremen at the Weserstadion, where they had one only once in the last seven encounters, does give credibility to their return to glory as one of the best teams in Europe.

Make no mistake about it; Otto Hitzfeld is not without problems that could derail his juggernaut. First, he needs to sit a striker. So far injury has actually come to his advantage, because Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski are both nursing injuries at the moment. Hitzfeld’s team controls play in a dynamic way when they play a 4-5-1. The formation allows Ze Roberto and Van Bommel to set back and protect the backline, while also allowing their attacking mids of Schweinsteiger, Altintop and Ribery to move forward expansively. When both return, he is most likely going to revert to the 4-4-2 which was employed early in this game, which stymied both Schweinsteiger and Ribery and allowed Diego to control the pace of the game. They also need to work out their backline, which while conceding only one shot on target in two games, is working with a questionable centerback in Lucio and one young halfback until Sagnol returns from injury. Had Schaaf been keener, he could have exploited the defense a little more. But he didn’t act in time and missed his chance.

In the first half, Bayern played a 4-4-2. Ze Roberto played in a more advanced position, Ribery was played out on the wing and Schweinsteiger seemed to settle back for crosses to the two big men. It was during the first 30 minutes of the game that Werder actually controlled the game and Diego was the most influential man on the pitch. He was getting decent support from his midfielders, although little out wide; however, forwards Almeida and Sanogo were poor. Sanogo would get better as the game progressed, but Almeida seems to be a good player against lesser sides. Had Schaaf been willing to test the game early, he would have either replaced Almeida or made Sanogo move to a midfield position. This would have allowed them to run at Bayern’s defense rather than forcing themselves to try and pick out the two strikers who couldn’t control the ball. Once Toni was taken down in the box and Ribery converted, they were chasing the game and unlikely to keep Bayern at bay for the rest of the game.

In the second half, Hamit Altintop came on for Miroslav Klose and the game opened up. What space Diego had in the first half, was lost to him when Ze Roberto and Van Bommel settled deeper. This allowed Ribery to move into the center and gave Schweinsteiger liberty to move forward. With Altintop’s pace added, they took control of the game. While the next two scores were on counterattacks that took advantage of Naldo forward position, they were unlucky to score on a half-dozen chances.

The third goal, which can be seen below, was pure magic. Ribery trapped the ball at the edge of his own box, between foot and shin. He then flicked it past Christian Schulz, ran to the half-way line before releasing the ball to Luca Toni. As he continued his run, he allowed Altintop to splint in behind him. Toni picked up on this and slotted the ball to Altintop who blasted a shot to the lower right corner.

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