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German Football Column: Bayern’s Flexibility, Dortmund’s further Misery and Schalke’s Win

A brand new feature on this website is the introduction of weekly & fortnightly columns focusing on various leagues, countries and regions across the World.  Muhammad Mustafa Tousif here documents the latest talking points in German football.

Bayern Column

With Bayern Munich extending their lead to seven points, the title race may seem like it’s over as both Wolfsburg and Monchengladbach drop points. While Marco Reus’ injury adds to Dortmund’s misery, Schalke were impressive against Woflsburg. Bundesliga’s Matchday 12 was indeed very action-packed.

Bayern Munich: The most tactically flexible team in Europe

Injury to Philipp Lahm a few days ago meant, Bayern Munich had to change their season’s regular midfield partnership of Lahm and Xabi Alonso. Together Lahm and Alonso have been instrumental as the Bavarian giants continued to dominate Bundesliga for the third successive season.

Pep Guardiola opted for a 4-1-4-1 formation against Hoffenheim, leaving Xabi Alonso alone in the holding midfield. Alonso did not disappoint Pep as he had an excellent game although a bit lucky not to have booked in the dying moments of the game for a reckless challenge. The incident aside, Alonso distributed the ball perfectly from the center of the game to unleash Muller-Gotze-Robben-Ribery.  Interestingly all of them starting alongside Lewandowski, which completed perhaps the most astonishing attacking line up in Europe.

The 4-1-4-1 worked well as Bayern went up 2-0 before the break. Moreover Hoffenheim played 4-2-3-1, which gave Bayern plenty of room in the wide areas as both the full backs, Rafinha and Bernat supported Bayern’s attack.

Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sebastian Rode came from the bench later in the game in place of Gotze and Muller respectively as Bayern shifted to a 4-3-3 formation with Rode and Schweinsteiger supporting Xabi Alonso.  Schweinsteiger made a great assist to Rode’s goal to mark his comeback.  Hoffenheim, a man down after Szalai was sent off for a bad tackle on Dante, were clueless as Bayern completed their win in style.

Bayern enjoyed a great game that also came in handy for Pep as both the formation 4-1-4-1 and 4-3-3 gives Bayern greater flexibility in addition to Pep’s preferred 3-4-3 system.

Even with so many key players out injured, Bayern looks ruthlessly strong. With Wolfsburg and Gladbach both dropping point in the weekend, Bayern extended their lead to 7 points at the top of the table.

Dortmund hit new low

2-0 up before the break and yet Dortmund threw away two important points against Paderborn. The injury to Marco Reus, who perhaps will not feature in the remainder of 2014, brought more bad news as Dortmund are now with 11 points in 12 games, 19 points below leaders Bayern Munich. Reus’ absence will greatly damage Dortmund as it is evident that Dortmund are much better with Reus in the team. One upside is that Gundogan played the full 90 minutes, giving him much needed match time and practice.

Lewandowski’s departure and slow starts of both Adrian Ramos and Ciro Immobile have put burden in the shoulder of attacking midfielders.  In absence of Reus, other players Shinji Kagawa, Grosskreutz, Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan must take responsibility to take the club further. Speculating that Marco Reus may not be playing for Dortmund next season, this could be a glimpse of what the Dortmund midfield would look like next season.

A win could have taken them to 13 points and that would have given them a much needed confidence boost. Dortmund’s realistic target should be a top 4 finish, which will give them a chance to play in the Champions League football next season. Currently, Leverkusen are in the fourth spot with 20 points and Dortmund must find winning ways before a top 4 finish becomes elusive.

Di Matteo’s tactics work to perfection

Schalke pulled off an important win over in form Wolfsburg. Roberto Di Matteo was spot on with his tactics, putting 5 men in the midfield. Wolfsburg were powerless in the opening quarter as the brilliant Schalke scored three times within the first 25 minutes of the game. In the second, half Schalke dug deep into the defence as they tried to protect the lead after Wolfsburg scored twice to make in 2-3 after 74 minutes.

Schalke’s defence held firm against the constant Wolfsburg pressure. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting was excellent for Schalke on the night. One would assume Di Matteo must have a special game plan in mind for the mid week Champions League fixture again Chelsea. After an impressive display against Jose Mourinho’s men earlier this season, Schalke has no reason to be afraid of Chelsea.

Written by  Muhammad Mustafa Tousif

Muhammad Mustafa Tousif

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