This post was guest-blogged by Niklas Wildhagen. Follow him on twitter @normusings
The last couple of seasons have been difficult for the German record champions. After Borussia Dortmund’s team of youngster emerged and made a splash on the Bundesliga scene Bayern were left without a single title for two seasons in a row (during which time club president Uli Hoeness’s face developed a shade of red not seen before). Bayern’s president likes to point out that “the absolute will and desire to win” is an essential quality everybody at the club should have within them. Even the players in Bayern’s youth division have to embody those qualities according to Phillip Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Last season’s treble of second place finishes has certainly left a dent in Bayern’s armor.
Adjusting the squad
The inherent defensive problems which had been a thorn in Jupp Heynckes’s eyes from the start of last season were adjusted in this summer’s transfer window. Borussia Mönchengladbach centre back Dante was brought in for a measly 5 million €, whilst holding midfielder Javi Martinez from Athletic Bilbao was bought for the record sum of 40 million €. The Bundesliga all-time foreign scorer Claudio Pizarro and Wolfsburg’s Mario Mandzukic were brought in additionally to provide Jupp Heynckes with more options up front. Swiss midfield gem Xherdan Shaqiri and goalkeeper Tom Starke were also added to the roster to give Bayern more depth.Those additions to squad have seen substantial changes to the Bayern line up compared to last season. Thomas Müller has been moved out to the right-wing, whilst Toni Kross finally has found his place in the Bayern line up starting in the hole behind the striker. Furthermore, Dante has made the centre back spot his own alongside Jerome Boateng, whilst Lahm has been moved from left back to right back, leaving the left back position to Austrian international David Alaba. Last season’s Bundesliga top scorer Mario Gomez has been injured for most of the season and has been replaced in the starting line up by Mario Mandzukic.
Javi Martinez has probably had the biggest impact on Bayern’s game. The holding midfielder has fit in beautifully alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger, allowing the German international to roam forward more freely, whilst shutting shop in front of the back four.
One for the history books?
Worryingly enough for the Juve faithful, it has to be said that Bayern have been in tremendous form of late. The Bavarians 9-2 win over Hamburger SV on Saturday saw The Reds record their highest win of the season, and their tenth win in a row (which is a first in the club’s history). Bayern lead the Bundesliga by a whopping 20 points, and with a goal difference of +65 after 27 match days. One point in their next Bundesliga match against Frankfurt should be enough to secure Bayern’s 22nd Bundesliga title.
The records have been tumbling for the Bavarians. They are currently on course to gather the highest amount of points within a season, concede the fewest goals, record the biggest goal difference in Bundesliga history, win the highest amount of away wins within one season, etc. The list goes on, and it is quite a long one in fact.
The Bavarians are still in all three competitions (Bundesliga, German cup and Champions League), and are currently on course to win at least two of them. Jupp Heynckes’ team have only lost 3 matches out of their 40 appearances, scoring a total of 109 goals. Bayern have in fact scored in all of their matches, except in their 2-0 home defeat against Arsenal in the Champions League.
Bayern’s tactics against Juventus – Injuries and suspensions
The Reds usually play a 4-2-3-1 formation, like most other sides in the Bundesliga. Heynckes has chosen to make a few changes to his line-up compared to last season’s starting XI. Bayern have put a bigger emphasis on their pressing game than in the previous two seasons, pressing higher up the pitch, whilst maintaining their possession-based style of football. Both Philipp Lahm and David Alaba are happy to push up the pitch, whilst Toni Kroos is often times given licence to roam around freely in Bayern’s midfield. Both Müller and Ribery are happy to drift towards the centre, or even onto the other wing on occasion.
The Bavarians are unlikely to drop their usual game plan in the first match against Juventus. Juve’s midfield triumvirate of Vidal, Marchisio and Pirlo might give Heynckes a couple of headaches. Shadowing Pirlo might be amongst the jobs Heynckes has in mind for Luiz Gustavo. Both Alaba and Lahm have gone upfield simultaneously in some of Bayern’s Bundesliga, Heynckes may divert from those tactics given Juve’s tendency to strike on the counter in the Champions League.
Basque midfielder Javi Martinez won’t make Bayern’s starting line up this time around due to a yellow card ban. Bastian Schweinsteiger caught a knock in the dying minutes of Bayern’s match against HSV but is said to be fine. He’ll play in the holding midfield position alongside the versatile Brazilian Luiz Gustavo. Both David Alaba and Mario Gomez are back in the fray for a spot in the starting line up after returns from injury.