SC Freiburg 1 – 1 Bayern Munich: A Draw Most Unjust for the Bavarian Giants

In an odd stand-alone Tuesday match, Bayern Munich traveled to the Black Forest to battle SC Freiburg. The European treble-winners came away with a stunning draw from a match that saw the Bavarians dominant with suffocating possession and ball-recovering for most the match, as Freiburg struggled to string passes together with a somewhat make-shift squad of youth prospects, following the two red cards from Matchday 3 against Hoffenheim. Despite Bayern’s dominance, SCF sub Nicolas Höfler scored a late equalizer against the run of play, as Christian Streich’s youthful side held the final 1-1 score.

Goals: Shaqiri (Bayern) 33′, Nicolas Höfler (SCF) 86′.

Substitutions:

  • SCF: Sebastian Kerk for Charles-Elie Laprévotte (60′), Nicolas Höfler for Julian Schuster (61′), Mike Hanke for Karim Guédé (75′).
  • Bayern: Philipp Lahm for Mario Götze (62′), Franck Ribéry for Bastian Schweinsteiger (79′), Mario Mandzukic for Claudio Pizarro (88′).

Cards:

  • SFC: Nicolas Höfler (63′) yellow, Christian Günter (66′) yellow.
  • Bayern:  Daniel van Buyten (70′)  yellow.

Shots: SCF 8 (3 on target), Bayern 17 (8 on target).

Possession: SCF (36%), Bayern (64%).

Pass Completion: SCF (66%), Bayern (87%).

Starting XI:

SCF vs. Bayern Starting XI. (Courtesy of WhoScored.com)
SCF vs. Bayern Starting XI. (Courtesy of WhoScored.com)

With the “Super Cup” clash against Europa-winning Chelsea coming up this weekend, Pep Guardiola rested many regular stars for Bayern (Alaba, Boateng, Ribéry, Robben, and Mandzukic), fielding a “B” side. Mario Götze made his long awaited Bayern start. Meanwhile, Schweinsteiger remained in his pivotal central defensive midfielder role in Pep’s already customary super-flex 4-1-4-1 living organism of a lineup.

Christian Streich’s side was thinly stretched with Coquelin and Mehmedi both sitting from their red cards earned on Matchday 3 against Hoffeheim. Nonetheless, SCF trotted out its usual 4-4-2 and played man-to-man marking on defense.

First Half

Freiburg started very actively, challenging and winning balls – helped by fehlpässes from the likes of Dante and Schweinsteiger, who each finished the match with 13 and 17 of these clunkers. During this stretch, SCF certainly looked Bayern’s equal, especially in Schuster’s attack at 9′ and Oliver Sorg’s missile of a shot on goal at 11′, requiring a spectacular full-body-stretched save from Neuer.

Eventually, the equitable match quickly became lopsided as Bayern recovered the ball quickly and began controlling the ball for large stretches of time, while Pep –  like a gesticulating conductor – flapped his arms around, barking a stream of instructions.

The boom fell on SCF at 33′ when Müller received a ball on the right flank, then as he made his dribble somewhat on a diagonal toward the goal, looked for a passing target. He found one, crossing the ball – just past a flailing Sorg – to the streaking Xherdan Shaqiri, who settled with his left foot, then used the same foot to strike in a low ball around the keeper Baumann at a tight angle for the goal. 1-0 for Bayern.

The goal seemed to totally deflate what was left of SCF’s optimism to play equally with Bayern. Freiburg struggled to string more than a couple passes together and was slowed down by Schmid’s touches, for example. Meanwhile, Bayern mercilessly circulated the ball around its defensive midfield only to spring dangerous balls forward in attack.

By the half, Bayern was strangling SCF, even if the scoreline was close at 1-1.

Possession: SCF (34%) vs. Bayern (66%).

Shots: SCF 5 (mostly poor quality) vs. Bayern 6.

Pass Completion: SCF (64%) vs. Bayern (88%).

A marker of Bayern’s stranglehold was Thomas Müller’s ability to capitalized on his side’s possession with his 12 passes in the attacking third of the pitch:

Thomas Mueller was active in the attacking third  during the first half, completing 9/12 passes. (Courtesy of FourFourTwo.com)
Thomas Mueller was active in the attacking third during the first half, completing 9/12 passes. (Courtesy of FourFourTwo.com)

Second Half

The second half opened with more of the same: Bayern enjoying the ball and SCF struggling to string passes together. For example, when the rare occasions when SCF created an attack, Sebastian Freis found himself with no support, or Bayern quickly won the ball back – and sometimes won it back in the attacking third. It was also apparent that Freiburg was tiring, as it chased Bayern around the pitch, which couldn’t have helped when SCF actually had possession.

Characteristically, Bayern recovered balls at twice the rate of SCF. (Courtesy of FourFourTwo.com)
Characteristically, Bayern recovered balls at almost twice the rate of SCF – a metric that defined the match. (Courtesy of FourFourTwo.com)

The quick ball recovery allowed Bayern to keep its stranglehold. Another contributing factor seemed to be the exquisite fluidity of four key players in Bayern’s own defensive third, as these players seemed to invisibly switch positions; Schweinsteiger was especially effective in this regard, as he found effective positions from which to receive and distribute passes:

For Freiburg, the match felt hopeless as Bayern dominated virtually every part of the pitch. Nevertheless, despite its stranglehold, Bayern couldn’t find the net.

The match’s narrative seemed to shift just a bit when SCF’s keeper, Oliver Baumann, made three key saves in the space of a few minutes after the 70′ mark. Freiburg seemed doomed as Pep signaled his intentions to draw more blood by subbing in Lahm, Ribéry, and Mandzukic; however, SCF held up defensively, as the Freiburg supporters got more involved.

Finally and still against the run of play, an unlikely break came for SCF.

In the 86th minute, after winning possession of the ball, a two-pass sequence changed the match for SCF as Sorg crossed to Freis, who squirted a pass to the 23 year-old journeyman sub Nicolas Höfler, who drilled his shot into the goal’s bottom corner. Höfler shot concisely on a well-timed volley – just pass Dante’s out-thrust leg. 1-1 all.

For the remaining time, the match totally opened up as either side scrambled around in quick attack and recovery in defense. The whistle blew right as SCF shifted into attack after recovering the ball.

Possession: SCF (36%) vs. Bayern (64%).

Shots: SCF (8 shots) vs. Bayern (17 shots).

Pass Completion: SCF (66%) vs. Bayern (87%).

Conclusion

Although it’s a stretch to judge this match a “test” for Bayern – a weird label to apply for a match the Bavarians dominated, despite the draw – Pep’s boys again struggled to open the scoring floodgates (the last couple matches Bayern won 1-0 and 2-0). However, SCF keeper Oliver Baumann must also be blamed, as his 7 saves certainly stymied Bayern. On any other week, the scoreline would probably remain 1-0 for Bayern, given their ability to stifle the opponent’s chance, so don’t expect many more results like this for Pep’s Bayern, who deserved the win. But the ball is round, etc. etc. It’s hard to find much to justifiably criticize in this match for Bayern, besides something vague like “wasted chances.” With the Super Cup coming up on Saturday and with its last match only three days ago, Bayern positioned itself to win this match. However, it took one attacking sequence and an unlucky missed offside call to spoil the win.

Mario Götze was decent in his first start for Bayern; although at first mostly anonymous, Götze got off a shot at 37′ was able to get involved with the attack in the 2nd half.  Clearly not totally match fit, Götze was subbed off for Lahm at 62′, who filled the former’s midfield role.

Naturally, SCF still look like a side in search of itself after losing 5 core players (Cedric Makiadi, Jan Rosenthal, Johannes Flum, Max Kruse, and Daniel Caliguiri) from last season’s Europa League qualifying side. This lack of cohesion seemed evident when SCF tried to string together labored passes in attack. However, on the bright side, youngsters like Ginter, Günter, Kerk, and Laprévotte are getting invaluable experience finding playing time in Streich’s 4-4-2 system.

So our endless fascination with Pep’s Bayern continues, as we all await the sequel to its treble from last season. For now, the narrative has just paused ever so briefly in a shadowed valley.

Header courtesy of sueddeutsche.com

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Travis serves as an editor and regular columnist here. Born and groomed in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Travis is a college English instructor in Pittsburgh. Coffee, books, and sports are his passions. His writing has also appeared in Howler magazine, 11Freunde, America Magazine, The Short Pass, Bloomberg Sports, the Good Man Project, his former blog, Sportisourstory.tumblr.com, and elsewhere. He tweets at @tptimmons. Heja BVB!

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