1. The inseparable problems of FC Bayern
FC Bayern was last worse under Jürgen Klinsmann, at a time that hardly anyone in Munich thinks back with pleasure. Back then, in the 2008/09 season, the record champions conceded 15 goals in the first nine match days, a negative record for the current millennium. Although, admittedly, the 21st year of this millennium is just underway. But: With 13 goals against in nine games, the team of coach Hansi Flick is only the sixth-best defense in the Bundesliga.
“We make too many mistakes, even with the ball, and we invite the opponent in,” said Leon Goretzka after the 3-1 win in Stuttgart, in which his team had to turn a deficit. And the 25-year-old gave the reason for these mistakes: “I’m very tired.” This applies not only to Goretzka, but to the entire squad, as Flick noted: “Game, regeneration, game”, that’s not what is on the calendar right now, in the four weeks before the end of the year against Bayer Leverkusen on December 19, Bayern must ran nine times.
The condensed game plan takes a toll, not just for Leon Goretzka. Lucas Hernández limped off the field, as did Jérôme Boateng, Corentin Tolisso is threatened with a longer retirement and Javi Martínez’s muscles also pinched. All defensive players, so that Flick first had to replace Niklas Süle, who had actually been demoted due to a lack of training, then 18-year-old Tanguy Nianzou, actually a man for the future, and finally Javi Martínez, who actually seemed sorted out in the summer.
“The team is at the limit”, Flick summed up after the win, in which the defensive weaknesses only remain without consequences because the front with 31 goals clearly the best offensive in the league hits an average of 3.44 times per game. The worries in the defense – both personnel and fatigue-related – will not diminish in the coming weeks and, above all, will not just go away. The game plan remains exhausting, there is no time for sustained relaxation in a three-day rhythm. What Flick doesn’t see as a burden, but as a challenge: “The one who accepts the conditions best has the greatest success. And that’s what we want to be.”
2. BVB has to learn from Bavaria’s public relations work
Borussia Dortmund also play under the same conditions, but unlike FC Bayern, the growing burden does not seem to be a major issue there. Well, unlike Munich, BVB does not play a Champions League final tournament and therefore had a slightly longer summer break. But the runner-up also lives the flick rhythm of play, regeneration and play.
The surprising 1: 2 defeat, of which coach Lucien Favre was “deeply disappointed” against 1. FC Köln, who had not won 18 times in a row, was one of those games that the Black and Yellows have been playing for years and that they have small chance to annoy the people of Munich, make it even smaller. Regardless of any fatigue, Dortmund presents itself completely out of shape every day and thus always creates a bit of crisis.
So this time too, which is why ex-national player Benedikt Höwedes stated: “Lucien Favre is not a master coach.” But in view of the Bavarian dominance, this is an attribution that has been awarded exclusively to the respective FC Bayern trainer since 2013. But seriously: Borussia Dortmund stands or falls with Erling Haaland, who didn’t score against Cologne, which is almost even more surprising than the defeat. The fact that he missed the huge chance to equalize shortly before the end could also simply be a sign of exhaustion.
Because Favre noted after the final whistle that the offensive had missed the “runs in depth”. His team ran a total of ten kilometers less than the opponent, the difference was only greater in the similarly surprisingly disappointing 2-0 draw at FC Augsburg on the second match day. Again, the season was still young and the burden of the permanent three-day cycle still uncertain. Perhaps they should take an example from FC Bayern in Dortmund and draw at least a bit of public attention to it, instead of just alternately protecting and challenging Favre.
3. A win is enough to keep the class (for the moment)
No matter what the reasons for Borussia Dortmund’s dropout – 1. FC Köln definitely took advantage of it. For the first time since the ghost games began, the Effzeh wins, for the first time in 18 games. The waiting time must have felt forever, if only because in these eight months of hoping for a new sense of achievement, every day feels like the previous one, thanks to the pandemic. Or as coach Markus Gisdol put it: “A start has been made in the direction that we have something countable, this series that seemed endless, is finally over and that despite the filthy virus we are not cursed and can still win games.”
Because Mainz also did not get beyond a draw against Hoffenheim and Bielefeld lost in Leipzig, the Cologne team even left the relegation ranks with their first success. Such a poor performance of the opponent has to be assumed, of course, because “this game was a battle”, analyzed Gisdol and praised the commitment of his players: “We did a terrible mileage.”
The coach identified “good access” as decisive “for success”, i.e. the consistent attack in the event of enemy attacks. And in fact, the people of Domstadt hardly ever gave BVB a big chance, maybe it’s a step towards an upswing. What is already certain, however, is that Effzeh caused a curiosity in the table: After the end of the 9th matchday, the column of points reads from twelfth place downwards as follows: nine (Hoffenheim), eight (Hertha BSC), seven ( Freiburg), six (Cologne), five (Mainz), four (Bielefeld), three (Schalke).
4. FC Schalke switches to relegation mode
Anniversary in royal blue, but not one that brings joy. FC Schalke 04 have now won 25 Bundesliga games across all seasons, and just as many games have yet to be played in the season. “We have to switch to relegation mode now,” said Sascha Riether after the 1: 4 at Borussia Mönchengladbach and one would like to ask the coordinator of the licensed players’ department: haven’t you got that long ago?
Of course, Riether means that the team must defend themselves against falling into the second division. But in view of three points from nine games, with -22 by far the worst goal difference in the league and 18th place, everything looks as if someone had forgotten to write down the word “not” and pass it on to the season goal “not relegation”.
A little more than half an hour, Schalke kept up in Gladbach quite reasonably, even equalized the lead, but then fell apart, as so often this year. Neither coach Manuel Baum (“Of course we think about how we keep the class”) nor sports director Jochen Schneider (“You take on the task and try to get out of there as a team”) spray what is not only popular in football A optimistic mood is sold.
Riether stated that “you cannot survive” with such achievements, but there is no real hope for improvement around Gelsenkirchen. After all, the fans stated with a large banner on the training grounds even before clear defeat: “Shameful external image, haphazard board and characterless team. The result of your years of mismanagement.” Hardly anything seems to be left of the often quoted “joint”.
5. Max Kruse is doing pretty good to 1. FC Union
Christopher Trimmel’s pass bobbed a bit, but that wasn’t a problem for Max Kruse. The attacker of 1. FC Union hit the ball perfectly with his left instep, in order to “nail” it into the top right corner from just under 20 meters, as the “kicker” wrote. In the “Kickers”, a Japanese cartoon football series, a hit as hard as it was placed would have spun in the goal net for seconds before the ball fell to the ground.
Probably one of the reasons why Kruse looked at his feat to make it 3: 3 against Eintracht Frankfurt again in the repetition: “I don’t score goals like that very often. I can enjoy them a little.” Enjoyment is a good keyword anyway, after the interim 2-0 draw, the Berliners were even briefly third in the table, which would lead to the Champions League at the end of the season.
Kruse is at least partly responsible for this high-altitude flight – which with sixth place and 16 points from nine games undoubtedly continues despite the lost lead – at least partly, probably even mainly responsible. He scored eleven of the 21 Union goals himself or prepared them directly, meanwhile the Köpenickers are considered by some to be outsider candidates for the Europa League places, even if they don’t like to hear that in the south-east of the capital. At the moment, the iron people prefer praise like that of Frankfurt’s Bas Dost: “The Kruse, he can just shoot well, dream goal.”