Bayern aren’t the finished article

Fourteen goals in two games has everyone drooling over Bayern Munich right now, but Jupp Heynckes’ side still have more than one or two creases that need ironing out if they want to win both the Bundesliga and the Champions League.

Jupp Heynckes still has work to do to make Bayern German and European champions

A ‘Tor-gasm’ was how tabloid BILD described Bayern’s glut of ‘Toren’ – ‘goals’ in German – in their 7-1 defeat of Hoffenheim last weekend and their 7-0 dismissal of Basel in the Champions League on Tuesday. “A top display from the first minute to the last,” said Heynckes more soberly but undoubtedly less entertainingly than BILD of his side’s midweek riot against the Swiss visitors as Bayern struck a blow back for the Bundesliga for the hiding it had taken with Leverkusen in Barcelona. Plenty of problems, however, still remain.

  • Bayern aren’t Barça – Bayern president Uli Hoeness claimed his club’s romp over Basel meant “Real and Barça will now be afraid of us”. Perhaps it will incite them to extra caution, but Basel aren’t Leverkusen, and Bayern aren’t yet Barça. “We can beat anyone,” insisted Jérôme Boateng, which is quite true. Bayern’s problem is that it seems they can also lose – or draw – to anyone as well. Remember, Leverkusen beat Bayern 2-0  before being trounced at the Camp Nou, and Basel and – in particular – Hoffenheim were opponents only in name.
  • The spirit isn’t right – It’s easy to be all smiles when things are going as well as they have done for Bayern in the last couple of games, but even then, it seems there are problems. Did you notice the reaction of Thomas Müller when Arjen Robben rounded Tom Starke before scoring himself rather than teeing up his unmarked team-mate? There was no communal joy on Müller’s face, while his on-pitch spat with Boateng at Leverkusen suggests the days of FC Hollywood are not too far behind Bayern when the going gets tough.
  • Bayern still need a kickstart – A number of players have made the point the team needs an early goal to force opponents onto the front foot and allow Bayern’s pacier players to exploit the space created. They were 3-0 up after 18 minutes against Hoffenheim, while Robben provided a tenth-minute opener versus Basel. Heynckes’ men are going to have to find a way to win without an early shot in the arm against sides who ‘park the bus,’ particularly away from home.
  • Don’t mention the ‘A’ word – Bayern have the best home record in the Bundesliga, but even fickle Leverkusen have a better away record this season, albeit from a game more. No wins away from home from four league games in 2012 suggests there is a significant problem while they also lost in Basel, in stark contrast to their five straight wins with a combined goal difference of 17-3 at home in Europe this season.
  • Minimal strength in depth – Every team has their key players – take Lionel Messi away from Barça, and they do not pose the same threat. Bayern, however, are particularly vulnerable in that regard. While Franck Ribéry’s curbing of his extra-curricular activities appear to have marked a return to consistent form and fitness, Robben’s past record – he has played just 54 Bundesliga games since 2009 – suggests he will miss part of the season’s finale.

    Arjen Robben's fragile fitness could put a large spanner in Bayern's works come the run-in

    The current campaign has already shown that when the Dutch half of ‘Robbery’ is missing, the French half can be countered much more effectively. An injury to the scarily prolific Mario Gomez would be equally – if not more – damaging with Ivica Olic and Nils Petersen less-than-adequate replacements.

  • Bundesliga v Champions League – Bayern can make all the noises they want about the Bundesliga being their ‘Brot und Butter’ and their ambitions in the cup, but you get the sense the appeal of Champions League victory in the Allianz Arena is stronger. There is no doubt that the Champions League does take its toll on squads, and with Bayern’s not running all that deep in certain areas, it will stretch their resources. Should they reach the semi-finals, the first-leg tie would likely be a week after their potentially crucial Bundesliga trip to Dortmund on 11 April, which is sandwiched between home games against Augsburg and Mainz, while the return leg sits uncomfortably between a trip to Bremen and a home game with Stuttgart. That is where the title is likely to be won and lost. Dortmund, who do have the trickier run-in, will have no draining midweek exertions.

Ian Holyman

Eurosport 2 Bundesliga commentator

This weekend’s action starts on Friday in the second division with promotion-chasing Eintracht Frankfurt v Dynamo Dresden at 18:30CET before Hoffenheim face Stuttgart from 20:30CET. Dortmund v Bremen is the main match at 15:30CET, and after having wrapped up all of Saturday’s action from 17:30CET, Hertha’s game at home to Bayern will be live from 18:30CET. Kaiserslautern v Schalke (15:30CET) and Hannover v Cologne (17:30CET) round off the weekend’s coverage on Sunday.

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3 Responses to Bayern aren’t the finished article

  1. Tim says:

    Well said, Ian. Well said. In Yank speak, “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings.”

  2. Tim says:

    Well said, Ian. Well. As we Yanks say, “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.”

  3. Ben says:

    True – Bayern don’t have the balance that Dortmund do. Take one element out of the Bayern team and they struggle to compensate; remove Mario Gotze from the Dortmund side and they cover it either with a tactical change or shifting players into different positions. Nobody thought Dortmund would be the same without Nuri Sahin, but could they actually be better? Whenever Bayern have tried to change their tactics, they have looked confused, just like they are when they go behind or don’t score in the first half.

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