Slight changes by both teams
Bayern moved up to 4th place after their emphatic win against the better of the promoted sides this season. Louis van Gaal made two changes from the team that drew 1-1 in Wolfsburg. The injured Ribery made way for the recently recovered Robben, which meant that Mueller went out left. Meanwhile, the new signing Gustavo partnered captain Van Bommel in central midfield, pushing Tymoshchuk back into defense next to Badstuber with Breno watching from the sidelines. The shape remained the same with Schweinsteiger playing off Gomez, as he has often this season.
Kaiserslautern on the other hand adjusted their shape and surprisingly fielded a more attacking oriented line up, brave considering they were playing away at Bayern. Their in form striker Lakic was missing due to suspension but Tiffert and Kirch returned to the line up and Marco Kurz decided to use Petsos as the sole holding midfielder while instructing everyone else to play more advanced. Kurz was hoping to catch Bayern out early by applying pressure from the beginning much like they did in the first fixture where Kaiserslautern won 2-0.
1st half – Kaiserslautern come out strong
Kurz’s adjusted system nearly worked as Kaiserslautern came out strong and tried to exploit a seemingly slow to start Bayern. They came closest in the 11th minute after an open shot from the right from Tiffert, just nearly tipped over the bar by Bayern keeper Kraft. Kaiserslautern continued to force mistakes from the home team but were unable to capitalize on their chances.
Bayern grew stronger after half an hour and an inspired Robben single handedly started reversing the flow of the match with Kaiserslautern defender Rodnei making some key plays to keep the Dutch winger off the scoresheet. The rest of the team started gaining composure and began to dominate possession, reaching as much as 87% at one point, and saw more and more of the ball with Robben and Mueller hounding Kaiserslautern’s fullbacks. The breakthrough came around the 45th minute mark after a Kaiserslautern corner. Mueller picked up the ball outside his own penalty box and dribbled down the left side to the midway line where he made the most audacious assist of the season to a running Robben on the other side of the field. Robben neatly controlled the through ball, took it around the keeper and put Bayern ahead at the half.
2nd half – No looking back for Bayern
The second half display was one of the best for Bayern this year. They continued to control the tempo of the game and kept the lion’s share of possession. Kaiserslautern were now pinned back completely and their original attacking formation left them exposed in midfield where Van Bommel had a field day. It took Bayern only a minute after kickoff to double their lead. Robben rounded Bugera and Petsos to feed the run of Schweinsteiger who laid it off to Gomez for a simple tap in. Kaiserslautern pulled a goal back after Tymoshchuk failed to control an incoming cross but Bayern did not led that phase them and continued their pressure. That pressure paid off as Gomez grabbed a brace in a matter of 4 minutes after Mueller, Altintop, who came on for Robben, and Schweinsteiger combined in the middle to set Gomez up twice in identical fashion.
Towards the end Kaiserslautern were scrambling and their defense did not know who to cover. Mueller and Altintop, were switching flanks while Schweinsteiger was working the channels. Rodnei, strong in the first half, stepped out of the back and left several gaps to exploit. For the final goal, Bayern recovered the ball high up the pitch and sent Altintop running down the left flank where he evaded Amedick to set up Mueller.
Effective passing takes Kaiserslautern out of the game
9 of Bayern’s 10 outfield players had an 80 or more passing completion %. The better on average Bayern’s pasing % has been the better they have fared this season. This game encapsulates the style Van Gaal has been trying to instill since taking over. It is noteworthy to mention that 4 of Bayern’s 5 goals came when they had the majority of the possession, which hints at the build up and link up that the manager wants to see from his players. Bayern completed 501 of their 575 passes, an impressive 87% completion rate and almost twice as much as Kaiserslautern.
When Bayern lost to Kaiserslautern in the Hinrunde they failed to hold on to the ball for long periods in the game, allowing their opponents to apply the necessary pressure to crack their vulnerable defense. Thus it becomes clear that possession is very significant in Bayern’s gameplan and as a result their performances. While this is clearly a strength for Bayern they still have to learn to play without the ball so to speak and work around teams that hold off well or themselves pressure as much as they do. The Mainz and Dortmund games were a good examples of teams that play a similar brand of pressing football, which Bayern had a difficult time coping with. For this game though it is fair to conclude that Bayern kept the ball well and essentially passed Kaiserslautern to death.
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