Monday, 13 April 2009

Preview : Bayern Munich

Venue : Allianz Arena, Munich

Bayern are still smarting from open wounds and will be looking to wreak vengeance at home. A club with a much chequered history and the pride that is incrementally built up by this, they will be thirsting for revenge in the 2nd leg of the CL encounter with Barca. Initially, Bayern may go into the game looking only to play for pride but deep down they will surely entertain hopes that a few early goals will provide the impetuous to achieve an unlikely conquest.

That is what Bayern will hope. To put those hopes in perspective, after the 4-0 thrashing at the Camp Nou, a single goal by Barca in the Alliance Arena will mean Bayern require to find the net 6 times in order to progress. Perhaps as unlikely but just as wistfully will Barca and Victor Valdes hope, to extend the run of clean sheets they have managed over the last 5 games Valdes has played. Valdes had a great match over the weekend where he looked commanding and bailed out a limping defence only to pay tribute to the same after the game.

The influential English media have started to sit up and take note of Barca’s sublime performances. Yet they have quite distastefully refused to acknowledge anything in Barca’s overwhelming results beyond the individual brilliance of Messi, Etoó and co. Pep Guardiola’s remarkable success in playing a fluid passing game, inextricably linking defence and offense with persistent retaining of possession, is worthy of invoking a paradigm shift in footballing consciousness towards a game based on more skilful approach play. With typical obtuseness the media and coaches refuse to acknowledge anything that might challenge their long cherished Long-ball style or any tenet beyond sheer physical strength and velocity as skill.

It is highly probable that Messi may be rested for this game and the impact of this for Barca is likely to be more pronounced in defence than in attack. More on that later but first a word on Andres Iniesta: This is the man who has to fill in the shoes of both Messi and Xavi when either is absent and yet when both are present, complements their presence by adding a different dimension to the attack. Iniesta was pulled out in the 75th minute against Recreativo and replaced by Alexander Hleb for whom the management surely envisaged a similar role when they signed him at the start of the season.
A look at the weekend games for the 2 sides before we go any further.

Over the Weekend

Bayern : By all accounts (or at least this one), Bayern produced a comeback performance worthy of their reputation in a 4 – 0 thrashing of Eintracht Frankfurt. The stinging criticism they faced after the mauling by Barca seems to have struck home and Bayern produced a highly motivated performance.

Lahm failed to make the team as did Van Buyten. Lucio made his return however and scored a goal. Ribery, Toni and Schweinsteiger were the other scorers. Ze Roberto filled in at Left Back, Lell started as Right Back and Ottl took Ze Roberto’s place in midfield. In a show of continued disenchantment with Rensing, the 34-yr old Butt lined up between the posts. Jose Sosa played behind Luca Toni, Altintop being relegated to the bench.

Barca : A workmanlike performance was on display at the Nou Camp as they saw off relegation threatened Recré. Iniesta produced another sterling performance scoring the first goal and taking the shot that resulted in the 2nd. Messi missed a penalty. Xavi and Etoó started on the bench while Krkic failed to make the most of the starting place he got. Also rested was Carles Puyol while Abidal returned to the team, although, he didn’t get any minutes on the pitch. Henry and Messi played the whole game as did 35 year old Sylvinho .

For those who missed the first leg, here is an account from the Guardian website.

Tactics and Formation

Messi’s ability to dribble past defenders, twisting and turning, frequently changing direction causes defences to counter him simply by creating obstacles in his path. Thus they put more defenders in place so that he has more players to beat and hence his path to goal is lengthened. If Bojan for instance was used instead of Messi, even without the presence of the left-back, the centre-back can handle him by closing down the angle to goal and pushing him out wide from where his options are limited.

That in the absence of Lahm, Klinsmann opted to use Ze Roberto in his position bodes trouble for Barca. What this essentially implies is that Ribery is going to get some support while going forward on that flank. Countering this is going to be a hard task for Barca. When Keita came on in the first leg he spent a notable amount of time on that flank in an effort to nullify the Ribery threat. Although it is difficult to envisage this happening for an entire match it may be the most effective way to deal with the combined threat of Ribery and Ze Roberto/Lahm.

To maintain stability this will involve a reconfiguration of the formation. So Keita starts from RM, Xavi LM and Iniesta plays the Messi role from the left flank. The return of Abidal will allow the defence, i.e the centre backs to spread further to the right. Puyol at RCB may be another small change introduced as his greater mobility will help Barca push Ribery into a corner from where, any crosses can be better handled with Pique’s excellent positioning.

If Bayern play with 2 strikers or an extra forward looking to play off Luca Toni, it could complicate matters for Barca because then the centre-backs will have to stay closer to the centre in order to handle any headed lay-offs. But with the presence of Yaya Toure and Abidal, Guardiola will believe that there is sufficient cover to handle this. And Alves would do well to be more discreet while embarking on his kamikaze bombing runs.

Of course Guardiola may decide that the threat of Ribery does not warrant such rotation of the formation or might use a less marked deviation from the current system. After all, he has, to fall back on, the invisible pillars of Barca’s defensive success : its possession based attacking play and relentless harrying of the opposition which induces anxiety when they finally do gain control of the ball. So in the presumed absence of Messi and Henry, it will be upto the ever-reliable Iniesta and Etoó ( who was absolutely awesome in the first leg ), besides Xavi, to keep Bayern preoccupied with defending their goal.

Predicted Lineups :

Bayern 4-4-2 : Butt, Lell/Oddo, Lucio, Demichelis, Ze Roberto/Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Van Bommel, Ottl, Ribery, Toni, Podolski
Barca 4-3-3 : Valdes, Alves, Puyol, Pique, Abidal, Keita, Toure, Xavi, Bojan, Etoó, Iniesta

In Conclusion
Its Bayern’s home pitch so besides their 12th man home support they are also free to plant as many sausages as they wish under the Allianz Arena. Bayern will probably come charging out of the blocks in the first half until an unexpected Barca goal deflates them. Or perhaps it will just take a spell of Barca possession and before Bayern know it 10 minutes have passed and that familiar sensation of chasing phantoms, who just will not give up the ball, starts to creep in. Barca will play to win, as they always do, after all, the team owes El Capitan Puyol a win to commemorate his birthday. But surely after all of Klinsmann's defeated acceptance, Rummenigge's anger or disappointment confusion, Udo Lattek's tears and Beckenbauer's unmitigated condemnation, Bayern will have their backs up and manage to scrape through a victory?

Prediction : Bayern Munich 2 – 1 Barcelona

kamikaze kontiki


noubarca said...

r u aving a laugh? We are not losing that game mate. 4-2 to Barca

kamikaze kontiki said...

:) I have been predicting 4 - 2 to Barca way too many times. thought I 'd try something different.

skanjos said...

" they are also free to plant as many sausages as they wish under the Allianz Arena" lol you own m8 hehehehe. 2-1 i think we will lose or 1-1 draw.

KAYR said...

the proof of non barca fans saying we will lose. so don't watch the match if you know that barca will lose. i am a true fan and i never like seeing barca lose.

barca4life said...

I say 2-1 or maybe 3-1 bayern will win. I cant see us beating them like we did last time. They will be coming out all guns blazing.

M4V3R1K said...

I think it will be a draw or a victory for Barcelona. Bayern will be firing with all they have got, to score 4 or more goals which is an impossible task. Eventhough the likes of lucio and lahm returns to their defence, to challenge the tie they have to attack and will be definitely caught in counter attack considering the pace of the Barca attackers. I say 1-2 or 1-1.

Bogman said...

KAYR, no one likes to see their team loose. But it still happens. Beeing realistic has nothing to do whith beeing a enthused fan. And would you please stod referring to your self as a "true" Barca fan? I think all of us here, or at least the lion part of us, are die-hard fans. It seems like you try to prove that you are the best fan ever or something? Thats just lame dude...

jazzy said...

@ kayr
no one true fan will like their team lose..
but theres a thing bout barca fan, that i'd like to think that we are well grounded and really look at everything that goes thru the game. so a true barca fan will always hope the best for the club, but they are smart enough to know what to expect from a game.
an example like last season. we all want them to win, succeed, but we know we wont win. we're just bad last season. in the CL we almost made it thru, but MU were just better than us. Im a barca fan, but im a football fan to, so i always like for the best team to win. so when we lose from MU last season, it hurts, but I know they were the better team, and they deserves to be champion. we as barca fans congratulate them for it.
that being said.. im so excited to see our team right now and hope we can go all the way, and we deserve it. but football is not a sure thing so we always need to be grounded. :p
personally I think we can win against bayern if we play like the 1st leg. we're really that good right now :)

barca4life said...

Just to base my argument in some facts for you from uefa's website

Bayern have won seven of the 17 ties in UEFA club competition in which they have had to overturn a first-leg deficit at home, although in each previous instance they returned to Munich trailing by only a single goal. Of the ten ties that ended in aggregate defeat, the German side enjoyed the consolation of a second-leg victory seven times.

So to sum up out of 17 times that they were trailing going back to germany they have won the 2nd leg 14 times and lost just 3 times.

Iason said...

Kamikaze, Ze Roberto and Ribery have a Alves-Messi like connection anyways. If Ze Roberto plays as an LB it won't make a difference. In fact, it will probably make the threat of Ribery less dangerous because they will be more stretched out from each other and most of the passes between them are one-touch short passes so it won't work as much.

Marc4barca said...

well before last week barca have never beaten bayern in uefa competition and a 4-0 first leg advantage have never been overturned so facts about the past never interest me.. it's all about now and barca haven't conceded in 5 matches straight. with bayern pushing forward with all they got their will be more space on the counter than in the first leg. barca will win 3-2.

as for kayr i understand where he is coming from.. i am one of those barca fans who always goes for win and no matter what form we are in and what streak we are one i never say we are going to lose or we have to lose something but that's just me, others are more realistic and we all can't be the same it wouldn't be much of a fan base if all of us had the same opinion. If it was so then this site would be boring.

jazzy said...

well said marc4barca.

hey what do you guys think bout the other matches?
im hoping for MU to lose :p
they're still in a blip right now. and if they play like the 1st leg, porto will sure punish them.
but SAF is smart enough to know this and will surely have a lot in sight for his boys.

kamikaze kontiki said...

Iason, I was trying to make the point that its the absence of Messi that will make the LB available to Ribery. And I think thats what Ribery was missing in the last game, a little support. Lell hardly even got close to him. Even gifted players are easier to handle when they are isolated and they don't have the option of a passing outlet just like Messi is helped by the presence of Alves and Etoó, Ribery will benefit from having someone he can at least fake a pass to or opt out instead of having to take on the Barca defense by himself..

Anonymous said...

Good added touch with the links included. Beside the hard work on the analytic side of the preview. You are putting lot of effort, and its appreciated.

We may see some Hleb Help tomorrow. He may even have something to prove. specially against bayern. And he has the experience of playing in Germany.


kamikaze kontiki said...

Hey Ramzi, I left a msg for you on the forum.

Anonymous said...

Why hasn't Ramzi been doing much anymore on the blog? Is he already some kind of manager?

Anonymous said...

I predict a 1-0 or a 2-0 win to barcelona.

nozbleed said...

Pep I found this quote from Fabio Capello:

"Barcelona is a very good team and although Robben and Cristiano are great players, the only genius that is above all is Leo Messi.".

and I heard Henry had a fever?

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