Category Archives: Bayern Munich

The Bundesliga Show Episode 94 – Nuri Sahin Strikes Back

On the Bundesliga Show this week, Jon Hartley and Matt Hermann reflect on the action from Matchday 26. The pair discuss the rousing return of Nuri Sahin to scoring ways, Bayern’s step closer to the title and the prospects for the teams vying for 4th place.

All that, plus Terry’s Duffelen’s weekly report on the 2.Bundesliga.

Enjoy the show!

Bundesliga Review – Buoyant Bayern all set for Arsenal by Archie Rhind-Tutt

Arsène Wenger may claim his side have a chance of qualifying for the Champions League quarter finals. The truth is, they don’t. The Gunners first leg against Bayern Munich proved just how much stronger the Bavarians are. And even if the Bundesliga leaders may have stuttered ever so slightly at the weekend, Bayern still look the strongest side in Europe.

Now for this season’s Bayern, a stutter qualifies as a win – just not in the swashbuckling style that we have come to expect of the champions-elect. Their opponents on Saturday could count themselves unfortunate too. In the last two seasons, scoring twice against Bayern usually guarantees victory. So, poor old Fortuna Düsseldorf, who became the first away team to score two and not win a Bundesliga game at the Allianz Arena since Freiburg in October 2010. They can take solace in the fact they played a side on course to become the greatest team in Bundesliga history.

Coach Jupp Heynckes didn’t put out much of a weakened team on Saturday either. Even when you include injuries, Heynckes played a side which was just three players off what has become the acknowledged full strength team for Bayern this season – those missing being Holger Badstuber, Javi Martinez and perhaps the signing of the season, Dante.

Saturday was the first Bundesliga game the Brazilian centre back has not started this season as he was rested for Wednesday’s game against Arsenal. That there was a certain fragility to the Bayern defence against Fortuna  was testament to the impact Dante has had since signing from Borussia Mönchengladbach in the summer.

Twice Fortuna Düsseldorf took the lead (sparking wild, yet understandable celebrations in the away end of the stadium ) and, when they did so for a second time through Andreas Lambertz’s strike, just 18 minutes remained in the game. Still, it was naïve to think there wasn’t enough time for Bayern to turn round the deficit. Within minutes Franck Ribery had equalised and with just a few to spare, Jerome Boateng made sure that the team’s dinner was on Jupp Heynckes by nodding in his first ever Bundesliga goal.

More importantly, it was the winner, taking Bayern 20 points clear at the top of the division. Forget the title race (if you haven’t already) because Bayern Munich are now up against history – and they’re even on course to thrash that too. Jupp Heynckes’s team have five more points than any other side has had at this stage of a Bundesliga season.

Win their next three games and they’ll clinch their first league title since 2010 at Eintracht Frankfurt on April 6th. Yet, perhaps the sweetest domestic prospect for Bayern lies in early May. Because, should they take 16 points from their next six games, they will go to Borussia Dortmund, not just as Champions but having broken the record points total set just last season by BVB. And if they could even win at Signal Iduna Park, having already surpassed 81 points, it would further legitimise their status as Deutscher Meister once more.

They may have looked weaker defensively without Dante at the weekend but, that aside, the quality in Bayern’s squad has been shown to be so interchangeable, that it will be surprising if Jupp Heynckes’s side do anything but breeze through to the quarter finals of the Champions League on Wednesday evening.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga:

  • Whilst Jupp Heynckes got away with leaving out his summer signing from Gladbach, Jürgen Klopp wasn’t so fortunate. Marco Reus was on the bench for the Revierderby as Schalke raced into a first half lead thanks to goals from Julian Draxler and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. The emergence of Reus in the second half wasn’t enough to spark a revival as Schalke held on for their second derby win of the season, despite Robert Lewandowski’s goal just before the hour.
  • However, there was concerning injury news for both Dortmund and Schalke after the game. Mats Hummels tore an ankle ligament which will put him out for four weeks whilst Klaas-Jan Huntelaar will miss Tuesday’s Champions League game with Galatasaray. He’s out for eight weeks having torn a ligament in his knee after an innocuous collision with his own goalkeeper, Timo Hildebrand.
  • That result for Schalke pushed them back into the top four for the first time since the beginning of December. But, there are quite a few sides behind them. Take Mainz who won for the first time in 2013 by overcoming Bayer Leverkusen. Eintracht Frankfurt are level on points with Schalke but their run of games without scoring was extended to five in their goalless draw at Hannover.
  • Goals were not a problem for Wolfsburg though as they scored five in a surprise victory at Freiburg which included a pair of superb strikes. First came Vieirinha’s thumping volley from 25 yards before Ivica Olic tried to top that with an overhead kick. Alternatively there was a powerful volley by Hamburg’s Artjoms Rudnevs on Sunday. That earned his side the win against Stuttgart, putting HSV within two points of fourth place. Their local rivals, Werder Bremen, had to settle for a draw at Borussia Mönchengladbach.
  • And, in the scrap to avoid relegation, Augsburg’s recent good form came to an end as they were beaten by Nuremberg -that allowed Hoffenheim to gain some ground on the Bavarians as they overcame bottom club Greuther Fürth.

Matchday 25 Results:

Augsburg 1-2 Nuremberg

Bayern Munich 3-2 Fortuna Düsseldorf

Freiburg 2-5 Wolfsburg

Greuther Fürth 0-3 Hoffenheim

Mainz 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen

Schalke 2-1 Borussia Dortmund

Gladbach 1-1 Werder Bremen

Hannover 0-0 Eintracht Frankfurt

Stuttgart 0-1 Hamburg

Table:

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* Pts.*
1 FC Bayern Munich 25 21 3 1 67:10 +57 66 CL*
2 Borussia Dortmund 25 13 7 5 55:30 +25 46 CL*
3 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 25 13 6 6 45:32 +13 45 CL*
4 FC Schalke 04 25 11 6 8 43:40 +3 39 CL* Qual.
5 Eintracht Frankfurt 25 11 6 8 38:35 +3 39 EL* Qual.
6 Hamburger SV 25 11 5 9 30:33 -3 38 EL* Qual.
7 1. FSV Mainz 05 25 10 7 8 33:29 +4 37
8 SC Freiburg 25 9 9 7 32:28 +4 36
9 Borussia Mönchengladbach 25 8 11 6 34:35 -1 35
10 Hannover 96 25 10 4 11 47:45 +2 34
11 1. FC Nuremberg 25 7 10 8 26:32 -6 31
12 VfL Wolfsburg 25 8 6 11 29:39 -10 30
13 SV Werder Bremen 25 8 5 12 40:49 -9 29
14 VfB Stuttgart 25 8 5 12 26:43 -17 29
15 Fortuna Düsseldorf 25 7 7 11 31:35 -4 28
16 FC Augsburg 25 4 9 12 22:38 -16 21 Play-offs
17 1899 Hoffenheim 25 5 4 16 30:49 -19 19 Relegation
18 Greuther Fürth 25 2 8 15 14:40 -26 14 Relegation

Table thanks to official Bundesliga website

Article originally written at Football Fan Cast

The Bundesliga Show Episode 90 – Bayern Bomb The Gunners

This week on The Bundesliga Show, Jon Hartley and Matt Hermann separate the wheat from the chaff from the Matchday 22 action.

It is also a Champions League week so Matt grabbed a word about the Bavarians from Bayern blogger at ESPN.com, Susie Schaaf.

All that, plus Terry Duffelen with his 2.Bundesliga wrap.

Enjoy the show!

Dante set for Brazil debut at Wembley

Bayern Munich’s 29-year-old defender Dante is set to win his first cap for Brazil in a friendly against England at Wembley on Wednesday reports Mark Lovell.

Brazil’s new and old coach Luiz Felipe Scolari (lovingly known as Big Phil) had no hesitation in calling up the Bayern defensive lynchpin to his revamped squad. With regular centre half Thiago Silva of PSG currently out injured, Dante travels to London on Monday with high hopes of a first start for the Seleção (Brazil national team).

Scolari, a World Cup winning coach against Germany in 2002, is back in charge of the ‘Boys from Brazil’ for a second spell after replacing Mano Menezes. The ex-Chelsea manager quickly needs to instil a feel-good factor in the Brazilian national squad ahead of the fast approaching 2014 World Cup on home soil.

Dante joined Bayern in the summer from Borussia Mönchengladbach for a bargain fee of €5m. He has been an ever-present this Bundesliga campaign and has quickly established himself as an integral part of Bayern’s parsimonious backline. Dante is arguably the Bavarians’ stand-out defender this season, compensating for the serious injury of Holger Badstuber.

After the record German champions’ comfortable away win in the carnival city of Mainz on Saturday, Dante immediately turned his attentions to the mouth-watering prospect of a Brazil debut at Wembley, the ‘home of football’.

“Now, I just want to concentrate on the Seleção,” explained Dante. “I am very happy to have this opportunity and hope to get the chance to play. I am the only newcomer to the squad, so it’s going to be difficult to earn the coach’s trust right away.”

Despite the match’s billing as a mere friendly, Dante says he cannot wait for the game and is keen to impress the new boss. “England against Brazil, this is a classic of the world game,” he beamed.

Away from Dante’s potential debut, there is likely to be more media scrutiny on the returning Ronaldinho. The two-time World Player of the Year has also been called back into Big Phil’s star-studded squad for this glamorous fixture, kicking off the English Football Association’s (FA) 150th anniversary celebrations.

Dante flies to London on Monday to meet up with the rest of the squad and could form a potentially formidable ‘afro partnership’ with Chelsea’s David Luiz in the heart of the Seleção defence.

“That would be cool,” Dante joked. “Though he is blonder than me.”

On the subject of eye-catching hairstyles, Dante may have to mark someone with his very own hair history. In-form England striker Wayne Rooney famously underwent hair transplant surgery in 2011. ‘Roo’ will soon realise, like the rest of the millions watching around the world, that there is much more substance to Dante than just a frizzy ‘fro.

Bayern Munich – No Substitute For Champions League Success

Mark Lovell looks at Bayern Munich’s poor Champions League final record and the substitutions that arguably cost them two crowns.

After the fanfare and collective back-slapping surrounding Bayern’s acquisition of Pep Guardiola, it’s clear that expectations will be heightened when the 42-year-old begins a three-year contract in the summer. Victory in the Champions League is likely to be the minimum dividend expected from the club’s investment. Racking up Bundesliga titles alone will not cut it for the club – or, for that matter, the Catalan himself.

The Champions League remains the ‘Holy Grail’ for the Bavarian club. The Reds last won the title in 2001 after a penalty shoot-out success against Valencia.

In fact, Bayern have developed quite a habit of falling at the final hurdle. They have experienced the heartache of defeat in four of their last five finals in Europe’s most prestigious competition.

By Bogaerts, Rob (Nationaal Archief Fotocollectie Anefo) via Wikimedia Commons

In 1982, Bayern were strong favourites to beat English underdogs Aston Villa in Rotterdam, but succumbed to a solitary Peter Withe goal in the De Kuip stadium. Famous names from the Bayern ‘family’ suffered the agony of the 1982 defeat. The Reds were captained by Paul Breitner, with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Dieter Hoeness playing up front. Uli, Dieter’s elder brother, was by this time the club’s General Manager.

In 1987, a Bayern side inspired by Lothar Matthäus surrendered a deserved half-time lead, losing 2-1 to an unfancied FC Porto side in Vienna. The names Rummenigge and Hoeness were again on the team sheet – this time it was Karl-Heinz’s younger brother Michael – with Dieter Hoeness still in attack for Bayern.

Louis van Gaal’s Bayern came out second best in the 2010 final in Madrid, losing to Jose Mourinho’s treble-winning Inter Milan side. This was the first of two painful final defeats in three years for the record German champions. Argentinian Diego Milito decided affairs with a goal in each half against a Bayern side deprived of the talents of their talisman Franck Ribéry through suspension.

By Johnny Vulkan from New York, East Village, USA via Wikimedia Commons

Despite dominating the 2012 Champions League final at the Allianz Arena, Bayern failed to see off an average, but spirited, Chelsea side. The ‘Finale Dahoam’ (Home Final) turned into more of a Home Fiasco. Bayern squandered three match points in their own backyard against Chelsea: throwing away a lead in the final minutes; Arjen Robben’s tame extra-time back pass – sorry missed penalty; and then the ultimate heartache of the penalty shoot-out, when Kroos, Timoschtschuk and Robben felt unable to take penalties as their nerves failed them.

Recalling the lead-up to Didier Drogba’s shock equaliser, I would argue that there was no pressing need to take off Thomas Müller just a couple of minutes after his bouncing header past Petr Cech. The 23-year-old Bavarian certainly seemed fit enough to jump around wildly in celebration before being mobbed by jubilant team-mates after his 83rd minute goal finally broke the deadlock.

During the miserable post mortem sound bites, Müller’s hauling off was attributed to a long-standing calf injury. However, Müller had gone into the game with this injury and been playing through the pain barrier for weeks. He had complained of the injury long before the goal and Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes hadn’t taken him off. So why react now?

In reality, hadn’t Heynckes sacrificed his goalscorer to afford him a standing ovation in recognition of his ‘winning’ goal in front of a home crowd? Chelsea carried little threat. The game was done and dusted. However, the substitution brutally backfired as Daniel van Buyten entered the fray on 85 minutes. Defensive reorganisation was required, but this failed to transpire when the English side were awarded their only corner of the match. Drogba was allowed the freedom of Munich to thunder a bullet header past the helpless Manuel Neuer. Fellow defender Jerome Boateng was the scapegoat in many peoples’ eyes for not getting tight enough to Drogba but surely the idea of bringing on van Buyten was to ‘double team’ the African striker for the remaining minutes?

How fickle the footballing fates are. The history books would not show Robben’s weak extra-time penalty miss – and the Dutchman would not have been booed a few days later in the Allianz Arena when he played for the Netherlands in a Euro warm-up game. A more defensive Bayern unit with van Buyten on board lost on penalties to a Chelsea side that seized their only real chance of the match, emphatically punishing Bayern for a momentary lapse in discipline. “It’s madness, really cruel,” said (now) President Uli Hoeness after the game, whilst the (former) Director of Football, Christian Nerlinger, called it “a total nightmare, like a really bad film.” “1999 was incredibly brutal, but tonight is even sadder, even more brutal and more unnecessary,” said a disconsolate Chairman of the Board Karl-Heinz Rummenigge at the post-match function.

The late Freddie Mercury crooned “Barcelona! How can I forget?” with Opera diva Montserrat Caballé before the 1999 final in the Catalan capital. Well, the 1999 final defeat to Manchester United at Camp Nou will forever be etched into the Bayern memory. This was another perfect example of Bayern plucking defeat from the jaws of an assured victory – after a substitution backfired.

Bayern were deservedly ahead after Mario Basler’s cheeky 6th minute free kick, which sneaked through a ragged Manchester United wall, beating the Big Dane Peter Schmeichel all ends up. Bayern should have been out of sight; both Carsten Jancker and Mehmet Scholl had chances to seal the deal but could only hit the woodwork.

The game in Barcelona arguably turned after the substitution of Bayern legend Lothar Matthäus with just ten minutes remaining. Germany’s 1990 World Cup winning captain was 38 years old at the time and entering the twilight of his career. However, as ‘Libero’ (sweeper) on that balmy night in Barcelona, he had mopped up everything a limited United side could throw at Bayern.

Without their experienced ‘Libero’, Bayern let in two goals in added time to let the trophy slip from their grasp. Thorsten Fink, who replaced Matthäus, hurriedly miskicked the ball from a corner – instead of launching a clearance into Row Z. His timid hack fell to straight to Ryan Giggs, whose mishit found Teddy Sheringham, who equalised from close range.

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for a visibly reeling Bayern side, they conceded another sloppy goal from a corner. The Norwegian ‘baby-faced assassin’, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, fired into the roof of the net from a Sheringham flick-on.

Cue bedlam in Barcelona. Commentator Clive Tyldsley asked UK TV viewers how Matthäus must be feeling as the cameras panned to the German with his head in his hands after the two hammer blows. “Who cares?” was his belligerent summing up.

In the aftermath of post-match analyses of their inexplicable 102 second collapse, Scholl was fined around DM 10,000 for suggesting that Lothar had a habit of removing himself from duty when things got a bit tight. Bayern’s outspoken midfielder Steffen Effenberg labelled Matthäus a ‘deserter’. In his recent autobiography, ‘Effe’ stated he still can’t work out why Germany’s most capped player (150) was substituted with his side in front. “It would have taken a broken leg for me to leave the field,” said the fiery former captain.

Lothar added fuel to the flames by suggesting that he could have played on if coach (Ottmar Hitzfeld) had insisted, a statement which he was later forced to retract.

Uli Hoeness famously said that Lothar wouldn’t even get a job as a greenkeeper at the club. Although time is a great healer and certain differences have been patched up, it is no coincidence that Lothar has never been asked back to the club in any capacity to join fellow former greats in the Bayern ‘family’.

In 2001, Bayern were definitely spurred onto greater efforts in the Champions League after the misery of Barcelona 1999. Fans will be hoping that Jupp Heynckes’s charges can use the disappointment of the ‘Home Final’ to go one better this time around, before the 67-year-old hands over to the man welcomed by all and sundry as the new Messiah, Pep Guardiola.

 

The Bundesliga Show Episode 86 – Pep’s arrival is no longer a guarded secret

This week on The Bundesliga Show, Matt Hermann and Jon Hartley, finally get to talk about the announcement that Pep Guardiola will be taking over as coach of Bayern Munich in the summer. Outside of the Pep talk, there is the small matter of the return of the Bundesliga from the winter break. The fall out from matchday 18 and the a preview of next weeks games are all included.

Enjoy the show!

SHOW ME THE CARIÑO

Mark Lovell muses over Pep Guardiola’s appointment at ‘Project’ Bayern.

Respected Spanish football writer Guillem Balague wrote in his recent Pep Guardiola biography, “He needs a new club to offer him ‘cariño’, an expression [a word] that doesn’t exist in English, a concept between friendship and love, respect and commitment. ‘Affection’ is perhaps the closest.”

These values are very much at the core of Bayern Munich. However, it still came as a surprise to many when the club announced in midweek that Josep ‘Pep’ Guardiola, the hottest coaching property in world football, had agreed to join them in the summer on a three-year deal. He will be the first Spanish manager in Bundesliga history, let alone in Bayern history. He is a Catalan cut from the same cloth as the proud Bavarians.

Premier Precedent

I can imagine the oligarchs and sheikhs’chins dropped to the ground after they heard the announcement. Particularly when one considers that, only the day before, he had underlined his love for the English game.

I believe the short-term nature of the Premier League scared Pep. Today, to almost universal dismay and astonishment, recently promoted side Southampton sacked their manager Nigel Adkins. The Saints had a decent record of just two defeats in 12 games, including a midweek draw against Champions of Europe Chelsea. Few managers are safe in the Premiership. Even Pep’s rival José Mourinho felt the wrath of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

Listen to the heart

Guardiola’s agent Jose Maria Orobitg revealed that his prized client had opted for the German ‘FCB’ because it was the ‘best project’. “Bayern did not offer the most money,” he said. “Guardiola chose this club because of its organisation, its opportunities and its players.” He is to be lauded for deciding against the constant fear of dismissal – no matter how much more lucrative the financial package might have been elsewhere. CEO of Bayern München AG Karl-Heinz Rummenigge confirmed that Guardiola had listened more to his heart than monetary factors when making his decision. “If it were purely down to money, Bayern would have had no chance,” he explained. The Bayern hierarchy deserves praise for using their ‘soft skills’ to stress the club’s values to Guardiola so convincingly.

Bayern ticked all the boxes as a destination for Pep’s next ‘project’. This is a club with a rich history and a sense of tradition, where former players play key roles. Uli Hoeness is the feisty President after enjoying more than 30 years as general manager; Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, is a diligent Chairman of the executive board; and ‘Kaiser’ Franz Beckenbauer has loyally served the club in many capacities – too many to mention – but all with great aplomb. My personal favourite ‘cariño’ story is goal-scoring legend Gerd Mueller being spared an alcoholic death by the caring Hoeness, and recovering to become a respected member of the Bayern family.

It was former Sports Director Christian Nerlinger who made the first approach to Guardiola back in June 2012. The ex Glasgow Rangers midfielder is no longer at the club, paying the price with his job for Bayern’s trophy drought. The record German champions haven’t won a trophy since May 2010.

Matthias Sammer, Nerlinger’s replacement, was offered a free rein to implement sweeping changes in the club’s organisation, particularly in youth development, where he had built up a burgeoning reputation as the German FA’s (DFB) youth co-ordinator.

Raúl Return?

It will be interesting to see how the working relationship between Sammer and the new coach pans out. Sammer may find himself marginalised. Guardiola will have been astute enough to insist on certain guarantees as to the scope of his ‘project’. He is expected to bring at least two of his ‘own’ men with him to Munich. There are early whispers of ex Real Madrid superstar Raúl coming to Bayern as Pep’s assistant. The two were close friends in the Spanish national side and Raúl gained valuable recent Bundesliga experience with Schalke 04.

Scribes far more talented than I have continued to wax lyrically about the grace, style and substance of Guardiola’s Barcelona, where it was seemingly not all about winning and hoarding trophies. It was all about how you played the game. Trophies (14 in just 4 years) were simply a pleasant side effect.

Drabattoni

My early days in Munich coincided with the legendary Giovanni Trapattoni’s time at the club. His press conferences were often more entertaining than some of the drab ‘Catenaccio’ football on offer at the exposed Olympia Stadion.

Bayern showed they can take a strong stance by sacking Felix Magath back in 2007. The disciplinarian had won two successive doubles (a run of success unparalleled in German football history) in just 33 months in charge. However, Magath was heavily criticised for his side’s workmanlike playing style and his antiquated training regime.

Ottmar Hitzfeld delivered the Holy Grail with the Champions League trophy in 2001 and was Bayern’s go to man after Magath was fired.

The current Switzerland national coach also won Europe’s most prestigious trophy with rivals Borussia Dortmund in 1997. This fact and his pragmatic playing style perhaps explain why he doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his exploits, especially amongst Bayern fans.

Uli Hoeness would prefer to gloss over the failed experiment with Jürgen Klinsmann. Hoeness described the current US national coach appointment as his “worst mistake” in management.

Bayern took a different tact after repeated Champions League failures and invested heavily in world class players such as Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben – stumping up the wages that they could readily earn elsewhere. A more ‘Guardiola-friendly’ playing style was first instigated by Louis van Gaal in 2009.

Pep played under the brusque coach at Barcelona and, though they did not always see eye to eye, Guardiola admits to being heavily influenced by the speed of passing and movement of LvG’s Ajax team of the nineties. There is a mutual respect between the two football coaches.

Farewell Jupp

The same cannot be said for the relationship between Bayern’s President and van Gaal. The Dutchman enjoyed a honeymoon period at his ‘dream club’, also winning the double in his first season. But the marriage ended in tears after ‘King’ Louis repeatedly fell out with Hoeness for “meddling into team affairs” and was ultimately forced to abdicate in April 2011. I remember the final dark days of LvG and Uli – frosty doesn’t do it justice. The mutual contempt continues to be aired regularly in the media.

Current coach Jupp Heynckes, a long-term Hoeness confidant, now in his third spell at the club, is the steady hand required after the turbulence of van Gaal’s stormy reign. Heynckes will look to seal Bayern’s first Bundesliga title in three years before grabbing the pipe and slippers and retreating quietly into retirement.

In hindsight, that wonderful thing, given Pep’s appointment, do you think he was consulted before Bayern splashed out €40m on a relatively unproven Spaniard in Javier Martinez from Athletic Bilbao? Or perhaps Bayern felt they needed to highlight to their prospective coach how serious they were about their project?

Lounge Act – Short Fat Müller

With the current frenzy surrounding Lionel Messi’s injury-hit attempt to break Gerd Müller’s record of 85 goals in a calendar year, Mark Lovell gives the lowdown on the prolific German striker affectionately known as ‘Short Fat Müller’.

, from Wikimedia Commons”]

Gerd Müller - Promifotos.de at the German language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

Müller was a stalwart striker for Bayern Munich as they rose from obscurity to the highest echelons of the world game; top scoring every season from 1964/65 to 1977/78. He was the Bundesliga’s leading marksman on seven occasions, racking up 40 goals in 1971/72. Bayern legend Franz Beckenbauer is famously quoted as saying, “without Gerd’s goals we would still be sitting around in a wooden shack on Säbener Strasse [Bayern's training facility].”

With his motto “if I think, it’s way too late,” Muller was an instinctive poacher who was born to score goals. The 5ft 9 inch striker was squat and chunky, with thighs like tree trunks, not too dissimilar to Diego Maradona’s build in his prime. Bayern coach “Tschik” Cajkovski labelled him as ‘too small and too fat’ but he soon had to begrudgingly recognise his predatory scoring ability.

Unlike our modern-day ‘Messiah’ Messi, Müller was not one for ‘beautiful’ goals. The German scored a lot of goals lying prone on his backside. “I was never into performing magic tricks for the crowd. I just wanted to score. ”

Müller was the bane of England and English clubs during his career, scoring the winner as West Germany knocked the holders out of the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. Yes, England the World Champions were bundled out in extra time, throwing away a two goal advantage in the soaring heat of Leon. You could argue that English football has never recovered from this bitter blow. The German finished top scorer in the tournament with 10 goals.

, via Wikimedia Commons”]

Gerd Müller - Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-N0716-0314 / Mittelstädt, Rainer / CC-BY-SA [CC-BY-SA-3.0-de (http://creativecommons.org /licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)

Müller also scored at Wembley, eliminating England from the 1972 European Championships. He starred for Bayern with a typical no-thrills goal in their 2-0 European Cup success against Leeds United in Paris in 1975. He was a fixture for the Bavarians as they secured three successive European Cup crowns (Champions League in today’s money) in the Seventies.
He had an uncanny knack of scoring goals from unlikely positions, often when totally off balance or when rooted to the seat of his pants. This was epitomised by his goal in the 1974 World Cup final as West Germany prevailed against Holland’s ‘Total Football’ in Munich.

His sudden retirement from international football was accelerated after a disagreement with a team official, who berated him for being too loud during the after-match celebrations. The stubborn striker succinctly summed this up: ”I just thought they could kiss my arse!”

He saw out his career like so many legends of the time in the North American Soccer League (NASL) with the now defunct Fort Lauderdale Strikers in Florida. Müller doesn’t look back too fondly on his time in the States. He missed his friends and family and ”the constant sunshine really got on my nerves.”
Superstar George Best (now there’s a player we could compare with Messi!) was once a team mate in America. Like the Northern Irishman, Müller also slumped into an alcoholic haze as his drinking worsened. “I ruined my life,” he later admitted.

It is typical of the compassionate nature of Bayern Munich and the way they look after their former players, that when ‘The Bomber’ fell on harder times, the club’s hierarchy did not turn the other cheek. The Bayern family rallied round, most notably Uli Hoeness, and perhaps spared him a tragic ending (unlike George Best).

After treatment and admitting his alcohol dependency, the club was in some way able to repay their debt to him. The 67-year-old has gone on to thrive as a respected coach at the record German champions and is currently helping out Mehmet Scholl with the reserves. “It does not get any better than being at Bayern,” he says proudly.

His goal scoring record for Germany stands at a remarkable 68 goals in 62 internationals. No doubt Miroslav Klose will overtake his goals tally sometime during 2013. It will have taken the Lazio striker over twice the number of internationals. No disrespect to Klose, who also possesses admirable qualities, but there is a strong case for him to retire from international football to pay due deference to ‘The Nation’s Bomber’s record. Take note, Miro, you would actually earn a lot of respect by such a magnanimous gesture.

Gerd Müller is quite simply the best striker of all time. I can quite confidently state this as, for all of his genius; Messi is not an out and out striker.

This article was originally written for the Munich Eye.

The Bundesliga Show Episode 82 – Bye Bye Markus Babbel

Welcome to another edition of The Bundesliga Show. This week, Jon Hartley and Matt Hermann are joined by Archie Rhind-Tutt to chew over the latest from the Bundesliga. With the departure of Markus Babbel, that is the big topic of the week along with the big game of the weekend – Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund.

Enjoy the show!

 

Bundesliga Review – Bayern in pole despite Dortmund draw by Archie Rhind-Tutt

Germany’s record champions may have drawn on Saturday but the Bavarians are well on their way to yet another Bundesliga title

There was a strange sensation going into the year’s fourth edition of Bayern Munich against Borussia Dortmund, especially given the importance with which recent encounters have been laced. This game was shaping up as the least significant one of 2012 and that says something when one of the matches was the German Super Cup, a seemingly irrelevant pre-season encounter.

Yet it was even then that Bayern Munich laid down the law to the Champions for this season. The Bavarians newly found strength in depth was prominent that day. Still, few expected there to be an eleven point gap between Bayern and Borussia by the time they next played.

After all, Borussia Dortmund had been all conquering for the last two seasons but have been left in Bayern’s wake, as they’ve suffered something of a European hangover. But in order to acquire this hangover, boy, have the Black and Yellows had some good nights. They’ve cruised through the Champions League’s Group of Death, impressively taking four points off Real Madrid in the process.

But the high standards of their European performances haven’t been matched domestically. Injuries haven’t helped but if anything, it’s just shown how well Bayern did in their effort to strengthen over the summer, with the likes of Mandzukic, Shaqiri and Dante performing with distinction. With Dortmund dropping points at home to newly promoted Fortuna during the week, Bayern’s lead over the champions moved into double figures.

No matter what Saturday brought, Bayern were going to be in a strong position after the game. Even though the title looked (and indeed looks) a foregone conclusion, it was a match Borussia Dortmund could not afford to lose, and they didn’t – just.

The away side had the better chances in the first half with Marco Reus testing Manuel Neuer but the game didn’t have many clear-cut opportunities. It opened up after Bayern centre back Holger Badstuber was carried off towards half time with a cruciate ligament injury – a painful blow to the home team, with the defender expected to miss the rest of the season. It was in the second half when Badstuber’s absence became more apparent.

That said, Bayern were getting into good positions but failing to provide that killer pass. Dortmund meanwhile were creating chances at more regular intervals. Adventurous centre back Mats Hummels scuffed a volley from Marcel Schmelzer’s quick free kick, whilst Schmelzer and Marco Reus also missed opportunities. You can’t do that against Bayern this season and not expect ramifications, as Toni Kroos proved. He showed seamless technique as he fired in the opener low, from the edge of the box after good work from Thomas Müller.

Kroos has been one of the stars of the season so far, if not the star and this strike midway through the second half only affirmed this. So with Bayern a goal up at the Allianz Arena, there’s usually one outcome but for the first time in nearly three years, the Bavarians didn’t win a Bundesliga home game when taking the lead.

Bayern found out first hand last season that Jürgen Klopp’s side don’t do “giving up,” after the way BVB caught them in the title race. Just in case this was doubted in any way, Borussia Dortmund equalised seven minutes after Kroos’s strike.

Marco Reus’s corner found its way to the edge of the box where Mario Götze was placed. Before the game, he said he thought the Champions could still retain their title. Judging by the conviction with which he struck the ball for Dortmund’s equaliser, he wasn’t joking either. The teenage prodigy sent a crisp half volley into the corner of Manuel Neuer’s goal. With just a quarter of an hour to go, Borussia looked to have the momentum but it was Bayern who finished the game in much stronger fashion.

So much so that Roman Weidenfeller became the hero for Dortmund, receiving praise from opposition coach Jupp Heynckes after the game. He added that he couldn’t believe that Weidenfeller had not been capped by Jogi Löw for Germany. This feeling of disbelief stemmed from three outstanding saves the Dortmund keeper made late on. First came an instinctive block, followed by an acrobatic tip over the bar before finishing with a one handed dive to his left from a Javi Martinez header.

Still, it ended up just being an exercise in preservation for Weidenfeller and Borussia Dortmund. Because as much as the Champions will say there’s still life left in the title race, it’s hard to see anyone stopping Bayern Munich. Bayer Leverkusen are the nearest side to them but they won’t hit the consistency required to topple Heynckes’s team.

Borussia Dortmund are the only club who have what it takes to come close but with Champions League football guaranteed in the second half of the season, they currently lack the resources to mount a challenge on both fronts. And whilst it’s sad as a neutral to be writing off the title race in December, you just have to applaud the way Bayern Munich have responded to last season.

Runners up in the Bundesliga, the DFB-Pokal and the Champions League, their focus has been unmatched in Germany this time round as they’ve torn through the division. You could only criticise their performances on the European stage which, despite seeing them through the group stages, will need to improve after Christmas. Still, after crushing defeats at the hands of Borussia Dortmund in the year’s first two editions of der Klassiker, Bayern Munich have responded well in the second half of 2012. Jupp Heynckes will be all the more satisfied knowing that Bayern won’t just be clear of Dortmund at Christmas, they’ll be top of the Bundesliga too.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga:

  • Markus Babbel is out of a job again for the second December running. He was sacked after Hoffenheim’s 4-1 drubbing at home to Werder Bremen. The ex-Liverpool defender had just one win in his last ten games. Otherwise at the bottom, not a lot changed with Augsburg sharing the points with Freiburg and Fürth losing at home to Stuttgart.
  •  At the top, Bayer Leverkusen closed the gap on Bayern after a slender win over Nuremberg whilst Schalke stuttered to a draw with Gladbach – teenager Julian Draxler scoring an 86th minute winner to bail them out at the VELTINS-Arena. Mainz continued their recent good run of form as they beat off Hannover, despite having 10 men in the second half after goalkeeper Christian Wetklo handled outside the box.
  • On Friday night, Fortuna Düsseldorf thumped Eintracht Frankfurt though they can thank Karim Matmour for that after the Eintracht player was sent off for the second time in seven days – a new Bundesliga record! And finally, in Sunday’s game, Wolfsburg came from behind to draw with Hamburg. The away side were rescued late on by goalkeeper René Adler too who put in another good performance.

Matchday 15 Results:

Fortuna Düsseldorf 4-0 Eintracht Frankfurt

Augsburg 1-1 Freiburg

Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 Nuremberg

Fürth 0-1 Stuttgart

Mainz 2-1 Hannover

Schalke 1-1 Gladbach

Bayern Munich 1-1 Borussia Dortmund

Hoffenheim 1-4 Werder Bremen

Wolfsburg 1-1 Hamburg

Table

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* Pts.*
1 FC Bayern Munich 15 12 2 1 41:6 +35 38 CL*
2 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 15 9 3 3 28:19 +9 30 CL*
3 Borussia Dortmund 15 7 6 2 30:16 +14 27 CL*
4 FC Schalke 04 15 7 4 4 25:19 +6 25 CL* Qual.
5 Eintracht Frankfurt 15 7 3 5 27:26 +1 24 EL* Qual.
6 1. FSV Mainz 05 15 7 2 6 21:18 +3 23 EL* Qual.
7 VfB Stuttgart 15 6 4 5 17:24 -7 22
8 SV Werder Bremen 15 6 3 6 26:24 +2 21
9 Hamburger SV 15 6 3 6 16:18 -2 21
10 Borussia Mönchengladbach 15 5 6 4 22:25 -3 21
11 SC Freiburg 15 5 5 5 20:17 +3 20
12 Hannover 96 15 6 2 7 28:27 +1 20
13 Fortuna Düsseldorf 15 4 6 5 18:19 -1 18
14 1. FC Nuremberg 15 4 4 7 14:21 -7 16
15 VfL Wolfsburg 15 4 4 7 14:23 -9 16
16 1899 Hoffenheim 15 3 3 9 22:36 -14 12
17 FC Augsburg 15 1 5 9 11:26 -15 8
18 Greuther Fürth 15 1 5 9 10:26 -16 8

Table taken from official Bundesliga website

This article was originally written on Football Fan Cast