How to turbo-charge FC Bayern Munich’s offense and tighten up on defense

by Richard Wiegand of on February 6, 2012

Why FC Bayern Munich is my favorite team
As you probably noticed by now, many of my world soccer commentaries are related to FC Bayern Munich of the Bundesliga. That’s because I have been following Bayern Munich since I was a little boy, and in fact my first soccer jersey was a Bayern Munich replica. I have met Franz Beckenbauer and Sepp Maier even played indoor soccer with Gerd Mueller at the FC Bayern Munich club headquarters on Sebenerstrasse in Munich. So like many of you soccer fans, I have a passion for one team in particular – and it is FC Bayern Munich.

FC Bayern Munich_the Glory Days (1970s) As my blog posts and videos on show, however, I really appreciate great soccer/football from anywhere and everywhere in the world. That’s why I’ve done a few videos highlighting FC Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund as well. When I get around to it, I will also do some videos about teams from the English Premier League and also from the Italian Serie A. But for now, I’d like to talk about FC Bayern and the difficulty they’re having getting back into gear after the winter break.

Excuses, excuses
In the second Bundesliga match since the winter break, FC Bayern tied Hamburg away 1-1. Admittedly, it was freezing cold, which makes the pitch hard and difficult to control the ball. This is a plus for the underdog – in this case, Hamburg SV. In addition, referee Kircher called back an own goal from Westermann’s header in the 15th minute due to a so-called push from Mario Gomez – which in my humble opinion was highly debatable. I watched the video several times and could not find the foul that Mr. Kircher saw. So FC Bayern was denied what was most likely a legitimate goal.

Poor marking by Philip Lahm, again – time to change the captain
Having said that, FC Bayern definitely has some loose screws to tighten up in the back. In the 23rd minute, Hamburg’s Paolo Guerrero switched the ball to the top of the right side of the box to Sala, who was completely unmarked – who then half-volleyed the ball into the lower left corner past Manuel Neuer. The immediate question that comes to mind is: “Why was Sala unmarked?”

Hamburg's Sala left unmarked by Philip Lahm This is not the first time that Lahm has shirked his responsibilities as a left back. I can dig up at least 7 goals from the archives where he has had defensive lapses marking opponents. For a left back, this is fatal. As a team captain, he should definitely know better. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if I were the coach of FC Bayern, I would not start Lahm. He is way too dangerous for me as a defender. Sometimes, you can make an exception for an overlapping back (like FC Barcelona’s Danni Alves, FC Bayern’s Rafinha, or Schalke 04′s Fuchs) if they help generate more scoring chances offensively than they give up as defenders by not marking up properly from time to time. But Philip Lahm has not been all that effective as an attacking or overlapping left back of late either. And as you may know, Lahm is not the tallest player on the pitch – this is a major negative for a defenders who must fight to win head-balls in or around the box. So the question arises, why does FC Bayern have Lahm on defense and give him the helm (captain-ship) of the team? This is a real problem for the team going forward – to have an unreliable defender as your captain.

Boring attack formations
One of the most critical areas of concern is the Bayern attack. I have been studying the Bayern attack over the past two weeks and really must say that I find it to be quite boring, especially when compared to coach Klopp’s attack formations for Borussia Dortmund. The Dortmund attacks are lightning fast, they all involve attackers that accelerate to goal, and they are varied. Bayern attacks are slow in comparison and usually involve a gradual buildup out of the back with width-wise passes connecting the dots as the entire Bayern team advances steadily out of the back. No blitz passes through the seams or gaps. Shots are almost nonexistent. With Bayern it’s typical and predictable: try to swing the ball around the top of the area (much like basketball players pass the ball around the key) and try to work your way inside or cross the ball from the wings. No acceleration + no shots = no scoring chances = boring soccer.

Coach Heynckes really has to go back to the drawing board and study the Dortmund and FC Barcelona attacks. He has to get some fresh ideas fast. While Heynckes is certainly a huge improvement over Luis van Gaal with his nauseating sideways possession style of play, he can admittedly do some more homework on attack football strategies.

1000 minutes for Gomez for every 10 minutes for Olic – is this fair or prudent?
Another area of huge concern for me (and many Bayern fans I’m sure), is player assignments and substitutions that Heynckes is making of late. Can someone tell me why a coach would give a center-forward like Mario Gomez 1000 minutes of playing time where he generates maybe two goals – when a sub like Ivica Olic comes in for 10-15 minutes late in the game and scores every time? How much time does Mario Gomez need? It just doesn’t make any sense Is it fair to reward the under-performers when the more efficient players are sitting on the bench? Olic has already said that he wants to leave Bayern because he feels that he deserves more playing time. That would be a shame.

FC Bayern Munich's Mario Gomez and Ivica Olic: competing for the same position?

Where is Luis Gustavo? Is Kross really a better player than Gustavo?
Another player assignment issue that really gets on my nerves as a Bayern fan is Toni Kroos over Luis Gustavo. I would take Gustavo over Kroos any day. As I suggested in previous posts, Toni Kroos is not Bayern material. He is not tough enough. He is too dainty. Psychologically speaking, this is fatal to the spirit of the team. At least Schweinsteiger goes in when he has to and wins the ball back from the opposition. Messi does this brilliantly also. Watch Messi when he loses the ball – he fights like the devil to win it back immediately. He is a two-way player. For me, Kross is a one-way player. He only wants the ball passed to him and stands over the ball to take free kicks. Have you noticed (Mr. Heynckes), that as soon as Kroos is subbed out, Bayern starts to play much better?

FC Bayern Toni Kroos vs Luis Gustavo Lately, even his free kicks end up being blocked by the opposition. But my experience playing and coaching the game suggests that players who don’t fight to win back the ball and who would rather receive the ball instead are shunned by teammates, and deservedly so. Until he improves his mental and physical toughness, Kross should not start for Bayern, even if he is national team player. He would flourish more on another team like a Leverkusen or Bremen. But please, not Bayern Munich. Tell the Bayern management should tell Nerlinger to act more maturely The last thing I’m going to say is that the Bayern management should control guys like Nerlinger inside the management. You may or may not have heard about his hoax of a press conference announcing the signing of a “bomb” of a star forward forward for Bayern Munich. I thought that was so lame, disrespectful to all the Bayern fans as well as a sign of having no class. In any other publicly traded company, Nerlinger would have been fired. It’s a miracle that the Bayern fans took it as well as they did. The Bayern management should not forget its great history as a club – to have jerks like Nerlinger steering the ship really makes you wonder.

Nerlinger FC Bayern Munich mgr left thousands of Bayern fans hanging at a recent hoax press conference

The bottom line is that FC Bayern Munich really has to address these major issues and fix them fast if they want to stand a chance in the final rounds of the Champions League and have a shot at the Bundesliga title. Right now, Dortmund is on a roll, their system rocks, and they’re leaving Bayern Munich in the dust.

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