Bayern Rule in Southern Derby

Bayern Munich won the southern derby at the Allianz Arena today 2-0 thanks to goals from Mario Gomez and Thomas Müller. In truth Bayern, resting most of their star names, were much below the standard they have set this season, particularly in the Champions League and were probably grateful that VfB Stuttgart didn't make the game more difficult for them. Having endured the physical strain of 120 minutes at the Bernabeu added to the emotional demands of a penalty shoot-out, coach Jupp Heynckes elected to include several of his fringe players for this the last home game of the season. In goal started Hans-Jorg Butt, enjoying his last game for FC Bayern before his contract runs out in the summer. The back four consisted of only one hero from Madrid - Holger Badstuber, who is of course suspended for the Champions League final, alongside Rafinha, Diego Contento and Anatoliy Tymoschchuk. The midfield three, normally set up as a triangle with one player further forward, was much more skewed than usual - Japanese star Takashi Usami employed as the attacking midfielder but stationed for much of the first half in a wide-right position. With the defensive midfield duties assumed by the impressive Luiz Gustavo, Danijel Pranjic, stationed just in front and slightly to the left of Gustavo was able to get forward. This seemingly extra width from midfield may have been a tactical ploy by Heynckes when considering the strikers at his disposal today. Mario Gomez occupied his central position and was flanked by Müller to the right and Ivica Olic to the left. As the Croatian Olic is normally a target man striker, it seemed Heynckes had included the left-footed Pranjic with the idea that he would get wide and allow Olic to join Gomez in the centre. However, this rarely happened in the first half and indeed it was Olic who played most closely to the left touchline. Unfortunately this was a source of many wasted opportunities for Bayern - Olic's crossing leaving a lot to be desired and often not finding the intended target. On the other flank, Müller and Usami didn't really connect, a probable result of not playing together very often, and the Japanese midfielder often looked forlorn and out of position, not knowing whether to come inside or stay wide.


The first real chance of the game came after just three minutes but after good work from Müller, Pranjic blasted over. A minute later VfB hit the crossbar from a header but the linesman rightly had his flag raised. Apart from these isolated chances the opening exchanges of the game were relatively subdued - perhaps owing as much to the balmy, 28 degree sunshine in Munich sapping the strength of the players as to the comparative B team on the pitch. Around the half-hour mark Bayern had a few more chances but Gomez and Pranjic were both guilty of profligate finishing from just outside the box. Nevertheless, the goal was to come for the home side. After 31 minutes, Müller chased a long ball from goalkeeper Butt and pressured VfB defender Maza-Rodriguez into a terrible header - aimed back to his goalkeeper but falling way short -and Müller galloped into the box, rode a challenge before squaring the ball to Gomez to tap in his 26th Bundesliga goal this season. After 35 minutes VfB had an appeal for a penalty waved away by the referee - an apparent shove my Badstuber on VfB's star player Martin Harnik either going unnoticed or deemed unworthy of a penalty. During the same phase of play VfB got the ball back in the box and Butt was forced to tip a header onto the crossbar and with the goal at his mercy the VfB captain Christian Genter headed over an open goal. Badstuber and Bayern could count themselves lucky. For most of the game the tall centre-back offered a composed presence on the ball, often playing short to Gustavo or using his left foot to spread the ball out long to the right wing. However, a few minutes later, perhaps due to the unfamiliar teammates alongside him in defence, he was guilty of misjudging a long ball from Stuttgart, allowing Vedad Ibisevic to run through on goal but the big Bosnian's touch deserted him and he overran the ball and Butt was able to smother his shot from close range.


Both sides made changes at half-time and they had a profound effect on the shape of the teams for the second half. The visitors brought on Brazilian-born German international Cacau in place of William Kvist, giving an extra dimension to their attack while allowing them to play more directly. For Bayern, goalscorer Gomez was replaced by David Alaba, giving the home team a much more natural outlet on the left while also moving Olic more centrally into his preferred position. That being said, with Müller operating more and more centrally, Olic's off the ball runs often took him into the right channel where unfortunately some of his crosses weren't as accurate as required. Also operating in this inside-right position meant that when Olic was through on goal, as happened in the 78th minute, he had to check inside on his left but curled his effort just wide of the far post. In the meantime, superstars Bastian Schweinsteiger and Arjen Robben had entered the field for Usami and Pranjic respectively.


Just after the Olic chance, VfB made a change of their own. Cacau had looked industrious in the centre but was lacking the supply line, which arrived in the shape of Ibrahima Traore. In the last ten minutes, the Guinean hugged the right touchline with some joy, forcing Contento onto the backfoot and getting around the Bayern left-back on a few occasions. Stuttgart were pushing forward for the equaliser and this left spaces at the back but lacklustre finishing from Robben and Olic kept the score at 1-0. However, in the very last seconds of the game FC Bayern broke forward once more in a five-on-one attack and, despite looking to have wasted the chance by overplaying, Olic stepped inside onto his left foot on the edge of the box and squared for Müller to tap home with the last kick. FC Bayern celebrated their last home game in style and continued their dominance over their southern rivals.


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