Woeful defending and careless build up caused Bayern Munich yet another stutter as the hosts surrendered meekly to the runaway leaders FC Mainz. Goals from Sami Allagui and Adam Szalai made sure that Mainz’s juggernaut has no intention to stop anywhere near Allianz Arena, at least for the time being.
Die Nullfünfer aka “The Oh Fives” came to Allianz Arena brimming with confidence. They were yet to drop a single point, winning all five of their opening matches. Their impressive record also included a cinderella story. They made a titanic come back against Wolfsburg away from home. They were trailing by three goals in the first half of the match. But the recusant team went all guns blazing in the next 45 minutes to register Bundesliga’s biggest come back victories in nearly 20 years.
Bayern were under immense pressure till their midweek fixture against Hoffenheim. Prior to the match, they were not able to score for 332 minutes in Bundesliga and were mighty close to set a team record for longest time between Bundesliga goals. But a couple of goals from Müller and Van Buyten not only helped Bayern get off the mark in goals tally, but also ensured a much needed victory.
Just like last autumn, Bayern were again left without the services of ace wingers Ribery and Robben. After an unconvincing display against Hoffenheim, it was evident that Diego Contento will be axed for this fixture. The only available option in that position was Daniel Pranjic, according to Van Gaal of course.
Within a quarter of an hour, Allagui found the net with a snazzy back-flick from Lewis Holtby’s neat low cross. That goal was enough to ensure the foreboding on hand. Bayern simply did not turn up for the game. Careless passing, sloppy defending, prosaic build up and slapdash finishing left Bayern riling in the middle of the league table.
Even though Bayern looked completely disinterested to put up a show, Mainz seemed generous enough to put one at the back of their own net – when Svensson’s mistimed header, off a harmless Van Bommel long pass, wrong footed Wetklo to wake Bayern from an ill-timed hibernation.
A quarter away from time, diminuendo set in Allianz Arena when Szalai’s howitzer made it 2-1 for the visitors. The goal finally helped Bayern change the gear. But the efforts were not enough to help Bayern earn any point from the match.
Areas of concern for Bayern:
Contento’s performance against Hoffenheim was not up to the mark. Understandably so, Van Gaal chose to rest him. But the selection of Pranjic to play as a left back was surprising. There is no way a left midfielder can be played as a make-shift left back, especially when the team is up against the league leaders.
Badstuber had played as a left back in the last season for Bayern. He could have been asked to slot in as a left back, bringing in Demichelis in the centre of defense. Both the goals were scored from the left flank where first Holtby and then Schuerrle made a mockery of Pranjic’s defensive capabilities.
Last match’s hero Van Buyten was the apt partner in crime for Pranjic. The Belgian international lost his marker once and got wrong footed in a slight feint, resulting in two goals. Holtby bamboozled Van Buyten far too easily for the cross that led to the first goal. For the second goal Van Buyten was no way near Szalai, who had ample time to blast the ball past Butt.
The left back position has been a problem for Bayern since the last season. This year, Bayern were linked with a move for right back Van Der Wiel from Ajax. His signing would have solved Bayern’s problem as Lahm would have been made to play in that problematic left back position.
It was expected that without Robben and Ribery, Bayern’s creativity would take a toll. But the same situation happened in the last season as well. The same guys stepped up to fill in the void of the wingers. But this season it is not working as expected.
Van Bommel has not been contributing constructively. He has been able to break opposition’s build up, but has not been able to move the ball forward. Schweinsteiger cut a sorry figure, trying to do much on his own, without any help from Van Bommel.
Toni Kroos looked the busiest and liveliest man on the pitch for Bayern. He was pulling the strings of almost all of Bayern attacks. Substituting Kroos looked to be another perplexing decision.
Müller had an off day and it reflected in Bayern’s lack of productivity down the right flank.
Bayern must look beyond Van Bommel now. Age is not on his side. He has been anything but inspirational so far in this season.
It is a mystery that Klose does not play at the same level for Bayern as he does for the Nationalmannschaft. He was anonymous throughout the match, looked short of confidence and was not complementing Olic at all. The duo looked like catastrophe together.
After the record acquisition of Mario Gomez from Stuttgart, Gomez has so far played in 51 matches for the Bavarians scoring only 15 times. He has not done justice to his price tag and the way he has been playing, it would not raise any eye brows if he gets the axe from Joachim Lowe’s team. Bayern’s chairman Rummenigge has been trying to encourage him to perform well.
Without Robben and Ribery, Bayern have struggled to beat quality opponents. It is high time that strikers Klose, Olic and Gomez get their acts right. A team of Bayern’s stature must do better than to wait for another 332 minutes on the pitch before scoring their next Bundesliga goal. It seems Gomez and Klose are short on confidence, but they must help themselves to find their way to glory.