Saturday, September 29, 2007

Leverkusen 0 - 1 Bayern Munich

Bayer Leverkusen put the greatest team in the world, nay the greatest team ever (if the German media is to be believed) to the stick today. And they showed some of weaknesses that can be exploited to keep the race close or, in the case of Europe and the F.A. Cup, catch Bayern out.


They work well together and they are both phenomenal forwards. However, when they play together, Bayern is a weaker team. There reason for this is that Bayern lose the midfield in a 4-4-2, and it is their ability to press offensively that keeps their opponents at bay. Coming into the game Bayer and Bayern shared the lead with least goals allowed at three. But for Leverkusen, it is because of their solid back line and wunderkind Adler. For FC Bayern, their defensive record is in large part due to the fact that they don’t concede goal chances by controlling the midfield. Coming into the game, Bayern had conceded 15 shots on goal the entire season. Today they conceded 11.

Leverkusen controlled the midfield completely until the 51st, when Klose was injured and Schweinsteiger came on to change the formation to 4-5-1. At that point, the double teams that had harassed Ribery out of the game stopped, Leverkusen’s tendency to win the ball and start play within Bayern’s half stopped, and Bayern’s beautiful counter attacks suddenly appeared. Van Bommel who was largely absent for the first half, suddenly became a force when he set further back and Altintop became effective as he was allowed to run at defenders.

Otto Hitzfeld will play Klose with Toni when both are healthy. They can be had with an energetic performance at midfield as shown by Michael Skibbe’s side today.

Christian Lell.

He is the fourth choice at back, behind Lahm, Sagnol and Jensen. He played today due to injuries, as will be required often this season, and was piss-poor to say the least. Leverkusen focused their attack in the first half on his side and was unlucky to have not seen Tranquillo Barnetta score on two excellent chances down the left hand channel. In addition, Lell who was warned in the first 10 minutes, garnered a yellow in the 63rd and spent the last 30 minutes arguing with the referee to the point that he should have been booked a second time. His rash challenges and brash behavior may well see him with a red when he faces a less assured ref.

Demichelis’ Height

At 6’ he is short for a central defender. On a day that saw Lucio man-mark Theofanis Gekas, 6’3 Stefan Kie├čling became Demichelis responsibility. Demichelis struggled at times against Kei├čling in his first questionable performance of the season. Could he be susceptible in these situations in the future, and will managers see this and prepare accordingly?


Even when Bayern took over the game, their passes were off. It was endemic of the whole side, including the usually reliable passing Ze Roberto. It was a cold and rainy day in a country that is going to only get colder and rainier for the next five months. Wet pitches are not a passing team’s friend and it will be interesting to see how a team that matches Barcelona and Arsenal in beautiful football fare in the following months in central Europe.


Anonymous said...

Great analysis. I've yet to watch some longer portions of the match, only caught up on the highlights so far. But also judging from previous matches, I agree that Bayern's midfield is the key to their good defensive performances.

Also interesting that Skibbe figured Munich out so well. Never thought much of him as a tactician. I guess what Leverkusen was missing in the match were moments of individual class/brilliance. Something that would have been provided by Bernd Schneider who picked up an injury in their UEFA Cup match. Too bad.

Christopher Murphy said...

completely agree that Bernd might have turned the game