August 21, 2017

Season Preview 2014-2015: FC Bayern München

Nicknames: die Roten (the Reds), Stern des Südens (Star of the South), la Bestia Negra (the Black Beast), FC Hollywood (derogatory)

Founded: 27 February 1900

Club Colors: Red and white

Primary Rivals: Traditionally, TSV 1860 München, 1. FC Nürnberg.  Recently, Borussia Dortmund.

Fan Friendship: FC St. Pauli

Trophies:

  • Bundesliga Champion (24, record): 1931-32, 1968-69, 1971-72, 1972-73, 1973-74, 1979-80, 1980-81, 1984-85, 1985-86, 1986-87, 1988-89, 1989-90, 1993-94, 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2002-03, 2004-05, 2005-06, 2007-08, 2009-10, 2012-13, 2013-14

  • DFB Cup Winner (17, record): 1956-57, 1965-66, 1966-67, 1968-69, 1970-71, 1981-82, 1983-84, 1985-86, 1997-98, 1999-2000, 2002-03, 2004-05, 2005-06, 2007-08, 2009-10, 2012-13, 2013-14

  • DFB/DFL Supercup Winner (5):  1982, 1987, 1990, 2010, 2012

  • DFB Ligapokal Winner (6, record):  1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2007

  • UEFA Champions League/European Cup (5, German record):  1973-74, 1974-75, 1975-76, 2000-01, 2012-13

  • UEFA Europa League/UEFA Cup (1):  1995-96

  • UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup (1):  1966-67

  • UEFA Super Cup (1): 2013

  • Intercontinental Cup (2): 1976, 2001

  • FIFA Club World Cup (1): 2013

Stadium: Allianz Arena (2005-present)

2013-14 Finishes:

  • Bundesliga: 1st
  • DFB Pokal: 1st
  • UEFA Champions/Europa League:  Semi-finalists (lost to Real Madrid)
  • Top Goal Scorer:  Mario Mandzukic (18, Bundesliga. 26, all competitions)

Club Reputation

After wrapping up the league in record-breaking time for the second season in a row, things started to go slightly awry for die Roten.  Instead of keeping a winning side intact, Pep Guardiola started tinkering with formations and players — and lost all momentum going forward, most notably in the Champions League semi-final against eventual winners Real Madrid.

Reality

Despite winning a domestic double, some supporters still considered last season a disappointment — as if winning a treble should be a shoo-in every year.  Was it in Bayern Munich to win back-to-back trebles? Perhaps. But, perhaps not. Considering the amount of players on the roster that were already focused on remaining healthy for World Cup competition, it might just be a blessing in disguise that the league was won as early as it was, considering the team-wide lack of focus toward the end of the year.

Philosophy

Guardiola launched his 4-1-4-1 formation to begin the season, much to the chagrin of many Javi Martinez supporters as it froze the holding midfielder out of his natural role. Yet, with captain Philipp Lahm as the single pivot, Bayern proved incredibly adept at going forward, while Lahm became not only the best right back in the world, but also one of the best midfielders. The formation was not without its frailties, though, as the transitioning from back to front at times lacked clear direction, with Bayern aimlessly passing the ball for long spells.

Plan B

Toward the end of the season, the Catalan coach reverted to the more direct 4-2-3-1, looking for a bit more defensive oomph. And when that didn’t work, he’d surprise all by producing a three-man backline against Borussia Dortmund in the DFB Pokal final which worked to marvelous effect, securing the second straight title for the Reds, 2-0.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths:  Thomas Mueller and Arjen Robben.  The pair of forwards combined for 24 goals and 17 assists between them.  The Raumdueter (space-creator) Mueller continued to flummox defenders in his usual ungainly fashion, while ‘Man of Glass’ Robben has seemingly overcome his physical frailties; turning in his finest Bayern season to date.

Weaknesses:  The Bayern defense has oft been maligned as the club’s weak point, but in 2013-14 they were still ranked first in the Bundesliga.  If there was a weakness at Bayern, I would point to tactics. The unfamiliarity of the 4-1-4-1 and not using players in their best possible position made Bayern Munich vulnerable.

Takeaway from 2013-14

Caught out toward the end of the 2013-14 season, Bayern Munich looked like they could finally be a beatable team. Moving through the summer, draining World Cup play, and a rash of injuries has proved it so, while the preseason Supercup loss to Dortmund only solidified the growing opinion that this Bundesliga title might not be theirs.

It was never going to be easy to sustain the air of invincibility that has been Bayern over the last two years, but Guardiola is now handed his biggest challenge to date:  scraping together a winning side — and formation — with the loss of so many cogs in the wheel.

Trivia

I’ll just point to this previous Bundesliga Fanatic article from February.

Verdict

If Bayern can manage to not drop too many points in the Hinrunde, the second half of the season should see them in fine form again with the returns of Thiago Alcantara, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and eventually Javi Martinez. Bayern won’t win the league by 25 or 19 points, certainly, but might manage to squeak out another championship in what should be a vastly entertaining season for the neutrals.

The Boss

The rumblings began as soon as Pep Guardiola started his tenure at Bayern, with many people saying “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” regarding Jupp Heynckes’ 2013 treble-winning side.  Some good came out of the coach’s changes as Philipp Lahm found a new position he could be the best at, but that was also at fan-favourite Martinez’ expense.

His adamancy of all things go his way has won him few fan supporters, and ruffled the feathers of Mario Mandzukic and Toni Kroos — both of whom got their wishes to leave the club.  The English-speaking audience has since caught on to Pep with the MLS-All Star “Handshake Gate”, and if Guardiola can’t manage a successful season at Bayern (meaning, Champions League final), I don’t see him staying another year.

Odds: BWIN has Bayern currently 5/4 to win the domestic double, 7/2 to regain the Champions League trophy.

“60-second dossier”

  • Number of Matches won by 2 or more goals: 22
  • Number of Matches won by 1 goal: 7
  • Number of Matches drawn: 3
  • Number of Matches lost by 1 goal: 1
  • Number of Matches lost by 2 or more goals: 1
  • Number of matches in which a lead was blown, resulting in loss: 0
  • Number of matches in which a lead was blown, resulting in draw: 3
  • Number of matches in which a deficit was overcome to earn a draw: 0
  • Number of matches in which a deficit was overcome to earn victory: 6

Top Scorers in 2013-14:

Mario Mandzukic (18 goals, 6 assists)
Thomas Mueller (13 goals, 11 assists)
Arjen Robben (11 goals, 6 assists)
Franck Ribery (10 goals, 12 assists)
Mario Goetze (10 goals, 9 assists)
Claudio Pizarro (10 goals, 3 assists)

Five-Year Record:

2013-14: Bundesliga 1st.  29 wins – 2 losses – 3 draws, 90 points.
2012-13:  Bundesliga 1st.  29 wins, 1 loss, 4 draws, 91 points.
2011-12:  Bundesliga 2nd.  23 wins, 7 losses, 4 draws, 73 points.
2010-11:  Bundesliga 3rd.  19 wins, 7 losses, 8 draws, 65 points.
2009-10:  Bundesliga 1st.  20 wins, 4 losses, 10 draws, 70 points.

Q&A with a club fan:

I chose my dear friend, Scott Schroder, with whom I co-host the very entertaining Rekordmeister podcast (@Rekord_Pod) to answer these questions.

Keep an eye out for . . .”  Rode- it will be great to see him surrounded by a similar level of talent, he should be an adequate replacement for Kroos if paired with the correct midfielders.

“Terrace favorite . . .”  Claudio Pizarro. Usually the answer to this is ‘Bastian Schweinsteiger.’ However, with him starting the season injured there will need to be another choice here. Pizarro frequently has his name cheered from the Südkurve and he returns the love every time.

“Player you’d happily drive to another club . . .”  Mitchell Weiser. First off, he’s terrible. I think I’ve watched more of Bayern than he has, and he’s supposed to be studying these things. When he’s on the field, he has no concept of player movement whatsoever, be it his or his teammates’. Then there was the amateur promotion playoff where he decided to go on vacation instead of helping the second team get to the 3. Liga. Finally, there’s his embarrassment of an Instagram account that would have Tymoshchuk enraged if he were still at the club.

“Advice you’d give your manager . . .”  Adjust to specific opponents more often. Too many times in important matches where Bayern would have been better served to play more Heynck-ian football, Bayern got stuck in a frustrating rut where they’d pass around in circles in the attacking third, allowing the opposition to get everyone behind the ball.

“Opposition player you secretly admire . . .”  Marco Reus, he’ll look great in red next year.

“Opposition player you despise. . .”  All of them except Olic and Petersen but especially EDGAR PRIB. Here’s a man who has done nothing wrong, and still I hate him with all of my heart. That’s how you know the hatred is real. From his stupid hair to his stupid name to his stupid accent, he’s the complete 8-year-old’s  irrational hatred package.

“Where will you finish . . .”  Stumbling across the finish line in a team crisis but comfortably in first by 10 points.

“Favorite memory…”  Bayern 9-2 HSV

Fixture list

August

22 VfL Wolfsburg (H)
30 FC Schalke 04 (A)

September

13 VfB Stuttgart (H)
20 Hamburger SV (A)
23 SC Paderborn (H)
27 1. FC Koeln (A)

October

4 Hannover 96 (H)
18 SV Werder Bremen (H)
25 Borussia Moenchengladbach (A)

November

1 Borussia Dortmund (H)
8 Eintracht Frankfurt (A)
22 1899 Hoffenheim (H)
29 Hertha BSC (A)

December

6 Bayer 04 Leverkusen (H)
13 FC Augsburg (A)
16 SC Freiburg (H)
20 1. FSV Mainz 05 (A)

January

31 VfL Wolfsburg (A)

February

3 FC Schalke 04 (H)
7 VfB Stuttgart (A)
14 Hamburger SV (H)
21 SC Paderborn (A)
28 1. FC Koeln (H)

March

7 Hannover 96 (A)
14 SV Werder Bremen (A)
21 Borussia Moenchengladbach (H)

April

4 Borussia Dortmund (A)
11 Eintracht Frankfurt (H)
18 1899 Hoffenheim (A)
25 Hertha BSC (H)

May

2 Bayer 04 Leverkusen (A)
9 FC Augsburg (H)
16 SC Freiburg (A)
23 1. FSV Mainz 05 (H)

Crucial Schedule Stretch

Perhaps the toughest part of the schedule for Bayern Munich will be the March matches into April where the team will only appear once at the Allianz Arena, playing against tough opponents like ‘Gladbach and culminating with the ever difficult Dortmund away at Westfalenstadion. That one, should the two teams remain close in the standings, just might be the league decider. Circle 4 April on your calendars, folks!

The following two tabs change content below.

Susie Schaaf

Susie Schaaf first fell in love with football watching Gerd Mueller play for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. She has written extensively about the DFB and Bayern Munich, formerly for ESPN FC and now with FC Bayern Central. She co-hosts @Rekord_Pod, as well as speaking on SiriusXM FC and BBC World Service. In her free time she travels, pours a drink or two, and watches more football. The girl that kissed Gerd's Golden Boot can be found on Twitter @fussballsusie.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply