VfB Stuttgart have been dominated by Bayern München in the last two seasons, and that pattern continued Sunday at the Allianz Arena as the rampant Bavarians crushed the visitors 6-1. The win in the Southern derby places Bayern Munich atop the Bundesliga table following the completion of MatchDay 2 with a +8 goal differential as the league takes a weeklong break for international competition. Stuttgart, meanwhile, have yet to collect a point early in the season, and Sunday’s pasting by Bayern gives them a 9-25 aggregate disadvantage against Bayern in their last seven meetings (including two in the DFB Pokal).
Tactics and Formations
Bayern head man Jupp Heynckes was without Arjen Robben, sidelined by injury, on Sunday along with injured left backs David Alaba and Diego Contento. Heynckes again started Holger Badstuber at the left back position. Bastian Schweinsteiger, who’s been struggling with injury for most of the 2012 calendar year, made the start in place of Xherdan Shaqiri, while Franck Ribery was back as replacement for Robben and Mario Mandžukić again deputized up front for the injured Mario Gomez in Heynckes 4-2-3-1 formation.
For Stuttgart, Bruno Labbadia went with the same lineup that got the club into the group stage of the Europa League against Dinamo Moscow. Vedad Ibišević, who scored three times in the two legs against Dinamo, was stationed up top with Hajnal, Harnik and Okazaki in support. Christian Gentner and William Kvist were paired in front of the backline of Artur Boka, Serdar Tasci, Maza and Gotoku Sakai.
The visiting Swabians came out with determination in the early going, but offsides calls on Christian Gentner and Shinji Okazaki slowed them down, with Manuel Neuer saving a Martin Harnik shot and the Bayern defense blocking another 4th minute attempt by Okazaki. Soon, though, the Bavarians were in charge, dominating possession by a 64 to 36% ratio in the first half. But Stuttgart’s defense held, breaking up plays deep in their half while the Bayern attack sputtered in the final third, with errant passes blunting any chances to finish.
It was Stuttgart that got on the scoreboard first, very much against the run of play, as Harnik brilliantly volleyed in a free kick chance from left back Artur Boka in the 25th minute. But any thoughts that Bayern would be punished for missed opportunities in the first half hour were quickly erased when Thomas Muller, who had moments before had a shot saved by Sven Ulreich, blasted a long shot in another attack on goal which Ulreich saved, but left the rebound for the streaking Muller to knock into the back of the net in the 32nd minute. The Bavarians added an immediate second goal with Toni Kroos launching a rocket shot into the upper right hand corner of the Stuttgart net, assisted by Luiz Gustavo. In the 43rd minute, Bayern upped its lead to 3-1 when former Hoffenheim man Gustavo hit a left-footed laser into the upper left hand corner of Ulreich’s goal, with the half ending in Bayern holding a two goal lead.
Stuttgart again came out early looking game for a fight, but that positive attitude was quickly snuffed out by the Bavarians. In a period of four minutes Heynckes’ team showed what they are capable of, with Müller assisting Croatian international Mandžukić as he right-footed into the net in the 47th minute, followed by another goal by Müller, this time on a close-range header. Schweinsteiger added to the deluge with a header from a Müller cross, making the score 6-1. Müller, who scored seven goals in 34 league matches last season, already has three goals after two 2012/2013 league matches.
The remaining forty minutes featured the Bavarians maintaining possession while taking their foot off the gas. Neuer was tested by a scramble in front of goal, but saved a close-range shot from Ibišević, who later received a harsh red card for some silly behavior likely caused by the pasting handed to Stuttgart by Bayern. Heynckes showed off the depth of his squad, bringing on Shaqiri, veteran striker Claudio Pizarro and ultimately Bayern’s new pricey purchase, defensive midfielder Javi Martinez, who was greeted by lengthy applause. For the day, Bayern launched a total of 16 shots, with an amazing 13 of them on frame. Müller led the team with six shots taken, all on target while defensively Bayern held their South German rivals to only four shots on goal while allowing them only 39% of possession.
If there were any doubts by Bundesliga fans of Bayern’s intentions this season, those doubts were eradicated convincingly by a dominant performance Sunday at the Allianz. Heynckes has both depth and quality at his disposal as the Bavarians appear fully intended on erasing the memories of last season’s triple runners-up finishes. While Müller was brilliant, Sunday’s match was a total team performance, with Heynckes’ team completing 90% of its over 550 passes, while having 761 touches of the ball compared to only 551 for Stuttgart. Gustavo, threatened for playing time by the arrival of Martinez, led his club in distance covered while being second to only Toni Kroos in successful tackles. Not only did he score a golazzo with his fierce 43rd minute shot, but the 25 year-old Brazilian completed 100% of his 53 passing attempts. Quite a performance from a player who may soon be spending most of his time coming off of the Bayern bench.
At the back, Holger Badstuber again had a positive performance at left back, completing 96% of his passes, although he was unable to add the attacking punch that young Alaba has demonstrated, while the central defender pairing of Dante and Jerome Boateng is a real strength, with the Brazilian completing 95% of his pass attempts and 76% of his challenges after two league matches, while the German international has won 71% of his aerial challenges and 68% of his tackles. A back five that was so recently a questionable area of strength for Bayern has turned into an impenetrable fortress, with goalkeeper Neuer and veteran right back Philipp Lahm already established as topnotch performers. For all the money spent in München during the summer, it may be the euros used to acquire Dante that create the most value for the club.
Outside of Harnik’s brilliant strike and a decent defensive performance for 30 minutes, Labbadia and company have little to find comfort in after dropping their second match of the season. It’s not nearly panic time, but certainly the team has disappointed thus far in league play. Ibišević was effectively turned invisible for most of the match by Boateng and Dante before his banishment, and Sakai had his pocket picked in the buildup to one of the Bayern goals. Youngster Tunay Torun received another runout in Sunday’s match, with the newcomer completing 12 of 13 passes. Labbadia cannot turn to Daniel Divadi, as the midfielder who did so well at Nürnberg last season is yet still injured, with his possibility of return not due until November.
There may be pressure for Labbadia to bring in some of his younger players, such as Austrian teenagers Kevin Stöger and Raphael Holzhauser, who currently play for the reserve squad in 3. Liga, to at least up the competition for senior side minutes among Labbadia’s group of veteran players. The club has looked less than fluid in attack, and often rather stodgy in their buildups. With Hannover, Schalke, Leverkusen and Nurnberg looking good so far this season, and Eintracht Frankfurt full of pleasant surprises, Stuttgart need to earn points soon. Labbadia will have two weeks to implement any changes he and Sporting Director Fredi Bobic desire before Stuttgart returns home to host undefeated Fortuna Düsseldorf on September 15, while Bayern München can look forward to hosting a struggling Mainz side on that same date.