On Saturday Bayern München denied VfB Stuttgart the opportunity to gain the upper hand in the race for the 5th spot in the table, winning the south German derby 2-0. Despite the fatigue that had to ensue following their 120 minute midweek effort against Real Madrid, the Bavarians had enough class to polish off the Swabians for their sixth consecutive win over Stuttgart in the past two seasons in all competitions. The victory pushed Bayern up to 70 points on the season with one league match remaining while carrying the highest positive goal differential in the league (+50) while holding onto their place as the stingiest defensive squad in the Bundesliga this season, having allowed only 21 goals in 33 league matches.
Lineups and Formations
Jupp Heynckes made major lineup changes following Bayern’s match Wednesday with Real Madrid. Thirty-seven year-old backup keeper Hans-Jörg Butt replaced penalty kick hero Manuel Neuer, while Anatoliy Tymoschuk, Diego Contento and Rafhina got starts on the backline. Heynckes also gave a start to seldom used Japanese midfielder Takashi Usami along with Iviica Olic, Danijel Pranjic and Thomas Müller.
Stuttgart head man Bruno Labbadia started Mexican defender Francisco Rodriguez as “Maza” replaced the injured Serdar Tasci. Regular goalkeeper Sven Ulreich started in goal for the Swabians after missing practice earlier in the week with a minor groin strain.
First Half: Bayern Takes the Lead
The Bavarians debuted their new Adidas white with orange trim uniforms in the right fashion as Mario Gomez made a bid for his 26th Bundesliga goal when he launched a long shot in the fourth minute of the match. Stuttgart charged back to take advantage of Bayern’s new look backline when Christian Molinaro sent in a cross which teammate Georg Niedermeier got a head on. Unfortunately for the Swabians, his effort was denied by the crossbar.
Mr. Gomez was not to be denied on this summer-like Saturday at the Allianz. He, along with Pranjic, forced saves from Ulreich but a gift-wrapped ball from Maza to Thomas Müller led to one of Gomez’ easier goals of the season. Gomez shot at an empty net as Müller slipped forward before dishing off to the striker. Stuttgart stormed back but again the crossbar denied them on a Shinji Okazaki header. Christian Gentner shot high on the rebound attempt. Vedad Ibisevic’ bid for the equalizer was snuffed out by Butt and Niedermeier missed on another headed effort before Ulreich kept his team in the game going into halftime by denying a chance by Ivica Olic.
Second Half: Stuttgart Come up Short
Mario Gomez was subbed out at halftime, replaced by David Alaba. The young Austrian international led off the final 45 minutes with a shot just wide of Stuttgart’s goal. But the game remained close as Ulreich and defender Goltoku Sakai bottled up Olic following a ball from Alaba in the 66th minute and Olic missed a fine chance with only ten minutes remaining. Ibisevic had another chance to gain the equalizer but his short-range shot just failed, as did chances from Ibrahima Traore and Gentner.
In the end, it was Thomas Müller who got the game’s second goal. In stoppage time he ended any last-ditch hopes of a Stuttgart result when he beat Ulreich with an assist from Ulreich. It was Müller’s fifth goal of the campaign, with Bayern extending its winning streak to six matches when the final whistle blew.
Given Bayern’s midweek exertions and Heyuckes logical decision to rest many of his starters that Stuttgart had a reasonable opportunity to secure the coveted fifth spot in the Bundesliga table that would grant automatic placement into the group stage of next season’s Europa League competition. But class won out, as the Bavarians again claimed bragging rights in south German derby. The two clubs shared an equal amount of possession, with Bayern München taking six shots on goal to five for Stuttgart. Mario Gomez had three shots in only 45 minutes to play against his former club, and trails Klaas-Jan Huntelaar by one goal (27-26) in the race for the Bundesliga 2011/2012 goalscoring title.
Georg Niedermeier had a strong match for Stuttgart. The former Bayern München youth player narrowly missed scoring while leading his team in shots taken. He also completed 95% of his 60 passing attempt and led the Swabians in tackles made. Butt, who earned the clean sheet in his only Bundesliga action of the season, and Olic made their final Bundesliga Allianz Arena appearances in Bayern kit, with Olic headed to Wolfsburg next season and Butt expected to retire.
With Stefan Kiessling providing a late winner for Leverkusen in their matchup with Hannover, it’s now Die Werkself holding down fifth place with a point lead over the Swabians. Stuttgart host a still-breathing Wolfsburg on the league’s final matchday next Saturday while Leverkusen visit Dieter Hecking’s in-form Nurnberg squad that has earned 11 points in its last five matches.