Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Match Preview : Bayern Munich

Venue : Camp Nou, Barcelona

The most eagerly anticipated match of the quarterfinal stage, in which the 2 leading goal scorers of the Champions League clash, is finally here. Both Barca and Bayern have scored 24 goals each so far in the Champions League. Bayern are unbeaten while Barca’s record is tarnished only by the reserve team’s loss to Shaktar in the final group stage match.

Bayern are 4 times winners of the Champions League/European Cup, their last triumph coming against Valencia in 2001 after famously having the title stolen from them at the Nou Camp by Manchester United in 1999. This is their 21st appearance in the quarterfinal stage a record only surpassed by Real Madrid, making them the most successful team remaining in this year’s CL.

Therefore, it is understandable that beyond the statuary tributes to Barca’s flowing game, much of the talk emanating from Munich has been focussed inward, intent on creating the impression that Bayern playing to its prodigious capacity is the key point in winning over the 2 legs rather than thwarting Barca. Long associated with efficiency and effectiveness, their poor performance over the past few seasons has galvanised a shift in approach emphasized by the appointment of Jurgen Klinsmann as coach. This season Bayern have displayed an admirable commitment to attacking football, often sacrificing the stability of their defence in the process.

About Klinsmann,
Jurgen Klinsmann took over at Bayern in July 2008 on the back of the League and Cup double which his predecessor the wily Ottmar Hitzfelds achieved after introducing wholesale changes to the squad at the start of the 2007-08 season. Klinsmann’s performances as a coach have gained acclaim and popularity more because of the refreshing change in direction they brought rather than any tactical genius. He predominantly favours a 4-4-2 formation with 2 wingers and an attacking central midfielder, supported by attack-minded wingbacks.

The 5-1 defeat at Wolfsburg over the weekend has provoked a measure of introspection with the coach asking for more commitment from his players. Blaming the loss on individual errors due to lack of concentration, Klinsmann also made the point that Bayern’s season hinges on the Barca game.

And Guardiola
A more resolute performance by Barca allowed Guardiola to balance his objectives of rest and reintegration over the weekend for the players returning after injury layoffs and international duty. Pep, has indicated a more guarded approach to the game by revealing that he spent the time during the national team break studying tapes of Bayern Munich’s matches. Additionally he has sought to play down the favourites tag by stating that if anything Bayern are the favourites, having the advantage of playing the final leg at home.

Stats and Recent Results

Last 5 matches

Barca :
Home Win 2-0 Athletic Bilbao
Home Win 5-2 Lyon
Away Win 2-0 Almeria
Home Win 6-0 Malaga
Away Win 1-0 Valladolid

Bayern :
Home Win 5-1 Hannover
Home Win 7-1 Sporting Clube
Away Win 3-0 Bochum
Home Win 1-0 Karlsruher
Away Loss 5-1 Wolfsburg

Marquez and Busquets for Barca and Borowski and Van Bommel will incur suspensions with their next bookings. Ribery with 6, has more assists in the Champions League this season than Messi or Xavi . Bayern have been fouled-on the most number of times this season in the CL with 153 fouls while Barca are the team to commit the least number of fouls with just 92, amongst the quarterfinalists.

In European competition Barca have generally had it good against German opposition but against Bayern they have fallen short in the past with 3 losses and 1 draw in the 4 matches played.

Tactics and Strategy
Formations of both teams are almost set in stone with each team sticking to its 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 formations respectively. To combat the creativity of Barca’s midfield what Bayern need is a quiet, tireless worker to pick up the pieces left after Van Bommel’s robust (and inevitably late) challenges. They have that player in the perpetually underrated Tim Borowski but playing him goes against Klinsmann’s attacking methodology and he is likely to start a player with more flair such as Ze Roberto. Nevertheless, their idea will be to shackle Xavi and Iniesta as far as possible.

More than Lahm’s left side Bayern have looked vulnerable down their right flank where both Christian Lell and Massimo Oddo have failed to adequately replace Sagnol. Injuries have created a soft centre in the defence with the pairing of Dimichelis and Breno(as talented but as inconsistent as Caceres) about the only option Klinsmann has. The arrangement of space however makes penetration and crossing from the right more probable than creating shooting opportunities. The best way for Barca to take advantage of this may be to have Iniesta starting from midfield to move wide with the ball on the left while Henry moves simultaneously towards the centre.

Etoó has his work cut out for him as a lot will depend on his movement and ability to draw the centre-backs out of position. The Messi vs Lahm battle will turn on the support that is afforded to Lahm from Ze Roberto. Messi will hence benefit from the presence of Iniesta on the far side, drawing the midfield cover towards the left leaving Lahm isolated against him.

Defensively, Barca have to work out a way to deal with Ribery for; of course no force on earth can keep Dani Alves from rampaging forward. A quick witted player with great close control, Ribery is adept at taking advantage of any space offered. The return of Yaya Toure, will be a great asset to Guardiola. His ability to cover space and disrupt breaks will allow Alves the time to get back into position. The defence will be occupied in dealing with Luca Toni and his clever layoffs to Podolski who is ever ready to shoot on sight of goal. On Barca’s left flank, Sylvinho will be well-advised to stay back and conserve his energy to deal with the nimble footed Schweinsteiger or the Turk Hamid Altentop.

Predicted Lineups :
Barcelona : Valdes, Alves, Marquez, Puyol, Sylvinho, Toure, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Etoó, Henry

Bayern Munich : Rensing, Lell, Breno, Demichelis, Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Van Bommel, Ze Roberto, Ribery, Luca Toni, Podolski

And So .....
At the very minimum Barca would like a 2 goal cushion to carry into the return leg. Anything more will be magnificent but Bayern are as dependent as Barca are on attack as the best mode of defence. So Barca have to look to weather the early storm, control the pace of the game and hold onto possession which, of course, is what they have done for most part of the season. Bayern will look to break with as much speed as possible so slowing down the game initially may be to Barca’s advantage. Barca possession is certain to eventually yield goals just as conceding an early goal will embolden Bayern. Barca should be comfortable but yet careful to ensure they don’t have to go into the second leg needing a win.

Prediction : Barcelona 4 – 2 Bayern Munich

kamikaze kontiki


fcbee said...

Klinsmann-Guardiola, indeed a nice confrontation. I have the feeling klinsmann so far disappoitned a bit at Bayern. At lezast in the league, Champions League is always a different competition. After his time as national team coach, people were excited about his style, but

Yesterday's games have proven that there are no easy games at this stage anymore (impressive first 30 minutes by Porto), so 1-0 actually would do for me. We'll have a big chance to score in Munich next week so then that would be a good result.

groga said...

Their defense was already the week point in my opinion and with some guys not being there (Lucio the most important one), we should be able to take advantage of that. I just hope we're very focused at the back!!!

Albert said...

if Barca wins the champions league,they really mean it,as they have defeated the best in France,
should defeat the best in germany,the
second best team in england(liverpool).
If goes according to the tag "favorites",beat the current champions league winner manchester.

djoef said...

Manchester-Barcelona would be the dream final, I think all football lovers (who are not a fan of one of the other teams involved) at least agree with that.

Anonymous said...

i think the result (4-2) is somehow unrealistic.

Anonymous said...

too bad MU might not be able to go to the final.. they'll have a hard time at dragao. I think porto will win.

treza said...

I think MU will settle it, this always happens with the top teams. Manhester United-Arsenal it will be in semis.

Aussie Barca Fan said...

Great commentry Kamikazi

We do need a decent advantage going to Germany however our track record against German teams away isn't bad which you mentioned.

I'm not sure about the scoreline. I think it could be something like 3-1, 2-1 or even 1-0. Bayern had a shocking loss away last week and will be eager to tighten their defence.

Barca need to be focused, stick to the game and defend well. Bayern will be mechanical and technical.

This is the pick of the round for me. Liverpool and Chelsea play each other week in - week out. Big deal although I hope the mighty reds thrash them!

Visca el Barca!!!

Anonymous said...

Speaking about track record: we never eliminated Bayern, time to change that, I guess!

kamikaze kontiki said...

I thought everyone would be looking forward to a high-scoring match with both defences known to be weak. ;)

Nobody think Puyol will start on the left rather than Sylvinho?
I put Sylvinho there cause I figured Bayern will use a right-footed player on the right so a left-footed defender would be best to deal with him.

Anonymous said...

Great preview Kamikaze.

There is two options for Bayern to approach the game:

1) Parking the bus. And i think if they do so, they are died! With Henry and Eto'o in the box, a line of Alves-Xavi-Iniesta behind, and Messi playing between the two lines his free role as a :"Right-central-left Attacking midfield striker", it may turn ti a circus.

2) Playing a more adventurous game, with $ defenders and two pure Defensive midfielders infront. Then Three midfielders who apply high pressure and a striker upfront.

This way instead of defensind against Alves+Messi, the combination of Ribery and Podolski attacking our right flank pulling Alves back and forcing messi to recieve the ball deeper.

If the first scenario means that barcelona will lose 1-0, while the other one means losing 3-1, then the second one is not as risky as it may look.

Barcelona will score in Munich, something Bayern will take in consideration. if they lost 1-0 in Catalonia, and Barcelona scored once in Germany, bayern need to score three times in Germany to qualify.

If they lost 3-1 in Barcelona and barcelona scored once in Germany, then bayern will also need to score three times, then it will be decided through penalties in front of Bayern fans.

Not the same situation in two cases, but not a big difference to feel certain they will pick any of the two.

Also, it may not be a surprise if Bayern put a right footed Left back like Oddo.

- long shots will be something to be careful about.

Its true thast playing the first leg away is better. but there is a bright side for playing first at home for barcelona. It means the players will play at home with their backs to the wall, givving there best to finish it in the first leg. If we played first in munich, the players will have the return leg at home in the back of their minds "We will finish it at home". Its much better this way. Beside if first leg was in munich and Barcelona got a good result, Bayern in Catalonia will play suicidal game, which is alway dangerous. If bayern got a good result at home, they will play with 3 keepers and 8 defenders, it will be a train, not a bus. Something we hate to face.

Good luck, and you can never exclude a goal scoring circus when barcelona play.

Pst: We may see Puyol playing on the left, Schweinsteiger will be too difficult for aging sylvinho to handle. And Marquez plus pique will be good towering due against Toni, if he played;)

And this is Ramzi, who is having a tough time signing on google recently, My Internet is drunk.

fcbee said...

Ramzi, Klinsmann has said he will go for your second option and But some player - I think Lahm - said that Man United last season showed how to play against Barcelona at the Camp Nou (in the semi)final)... So guess it will be option 1.

fcbee said...

I meant

"Klinsmann has said he will go for your second option and play offensive".

Anonymous said...

the defense will be even more vulnerable as lahm will probably not be healthy for the game.

honestly i don't see a good chance for munich with lucio, lahm, klose and van buyten all injured

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