Posts Tagged ‘Bayern Munich’

Season Predictions 09/10 – How They Turned Out

31/05/2010

Apologies for the lack of posts recently. I’m still in two minds about whether to do season reviews for each club – to be honest I’m in World Cup mode now. Perhaps I’ll still get round to it though.

Back in August I played a mug’s game and tried to predict how everyone would finish. Here’s what actually happened:

'Expert' predictions...

Looking at the results showed I got just three clubs spot on: Man City in 5th and basement dwellers Hull and Pompey taking the bottom two places. In my defence I was only one place out with six other clubs but really this table looks like what it is, rubbish punditry.

I think if Gareth Southgate and Garth Crooks had a bastard lovechild it would look something like this predictions table (enjoy those nightmare thoughts kids).

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In terms of the thinking, I had found it really tricky to split the top three when writing pre-season predictions. My loyalties to Arsenal may have played a part in placing them second while I couldn’t bear to predict Chelsea as Champions even though deep down I knew they had retained the most strength over the summer.

A similar scenario led to placing Spurs 7th – I was hardly going to predict them a Champions League spot was I?! I underestimated Liverpool’s decline and overestimated Sunderland’s improvement.

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The biggest mistake was Birmingham, a full nine places out, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who had them down to struggle. Fair play to Alex McLeish (who I had as first sacking!), he brilliantly led them to a top half finish.

The bottom half was slightly better predicted clubs wise, if not positions wise. The dearth of quality is such that it’s pot luck as to where the likes of Bolton and Wigan finish. I got three of the bottom four right and on another day would have predicted Burnley to come in 18th not 17th.

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In terms of the cups and other stuff it went like this:

And I thought the league prediction was bad...

Oh dear. Only Bayern Munich correct and I suppose West Brom for promotion. If the Premier League table was the Southgate/Crooks lovechild then this is the resulting mess when said lovechild had a threesome with Alan Shearer and Jamie Redknapp. I literally couldn’t do any worse at being a pundit. Like I said at the beginning, it’s time for the World Cup…

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T.

Champions League Draw Reaction

28/08/2009

Group A: Bayern Munich, Juventus, Bordeaux, Maccabi Haifa.
Group B: Manchester United, CSKA Moscow, Besiktas, Wolfsburg.
Group C: AC Milan, Real Madrid, Marseille, FC Zurich.
Group D: Chelsea, Porto, Atletico Madrid, APOEL Nicosia.
Group E: Liverpool, Lyon, Fiorentina, Debreceni.
Group F: Barcelona, Inter Milan, Dynamo Kiev, Rubin Kazan.
Group G: Sevilla, Rangers, Stuttgart, Unirea Urziceni.
Group H: Arsenal, AZ Alkmaar, Olympiakos, Standard Liege

Big ears

Big ears

Quite an interesting draw yesterday, and the British clubs on the whole will be happy with the groups they have landed in. No obvious group of death but certainly quite a few where three teams will be competing to qualify.

Group A is quite tough to call. You have the traditional heavyweights of Bayern and Juventus joined by the Ligue 1 Champions Bordeaux. The Germans have made a shoddy start under Van Gaal this year and it remains to be seen if they are preparing to sell Ribery following the arrival of Robben, Juve have bought well this summer and should be strong while it will be interesting to see if Bordeaux have the players to compete at this level. We can safely say Maccabi will be bottom.

What price Bordeaux breaking it up?

What price Bordeaux breaking it up?

Man Utd have a slightly trickier task then usual in Group B but should still comfortably qualify. The long distance trips to CSKA and Besiktas might be a drag, and they drew the one fourth pot team no one wanted in German champs Wolfsburg. Wolsburg have kept the team that took them to the title last season (bar the manager) and Edin Dzeko will look to continue impressing scouts across Europe. Fergie’s side should come top and it will be between Wolfsburg and CSKA for second.

Group C sees Kaka go back to Milan with his new side Real Madrid but they should both be qualifying. Marseille might cause a shock or two at home but will likely fall short in third place.

Chelsea face away tricky ties at Atletico and Porto in Group D as well quite a long trip to Nicosia but their experience should see them qualify. After all wasn’t Ancelotti hired to win this? Porto and Atletico will tear strips off each other and I think that the latter’s superior strike force of Forlan and Aguero will see them join the Blues in the second round.

Group E will be scrappy and I can see both Lyon and Fiorentina causing Liverpool some problems. It could be very tight between these three even though on paper Liverpool are easily the strongest side. They seem to find compact technical teams quite difficult to break down in the group stages and it wouldn’t surprise me if they went through in second.

Group F sees Zlatan and Eto’o return to their respective former clubs with Barcelona playing Inter at the San Siro on matchday 1. Both teams should comfortably qualify though Barcelona’s away games against Rubin Kazan and Kiev are not until November onwards so the weather could play a factor. In particular Guardiola’s side will not want to go to Kiev in December needing something from their last game. I’m sure that won’t be the case though.

Swapsies

Swapsies

Rangers have a fair chance at qualifying from Group G as they’ve been paired with one of the weaker top seeds in Sevilla as well as Stuttgart and Unirea. I think it will be between them and the German side for second with Sevilla’s experience at this level seeing them through in first.

The last group (H) sees Arsenal get quite a gentle draw alongside Standard Liege, AZ Alkmaar and Olympiakos. None will be easy to beat, but all should be beaten. Liege will look to Steven Defour to try and help them get second ahead of Alkmaar but I suspect it will be the Dutch champions who end up nabbing it behind the Gunners in first.

I suspect there won’t be too many shocks overall but I’m sure one or two clubs will manage to mess things up. It all starts on September 14th, can’t wait!

T.

Weekly Photoshop – Beckham vs Donovan

23/07/2009

A clash of egos this week as the battle to be number one in LA come to a head. Landon Donovan has been calling David Beckham unprofessional for going to Milan on loan. This is the same Landon Donovan who has returned from spending time on loan at Bayern Munich. A bad case of much ado about nothing I think. Donovan’s always going to be painted as the bad guy here, Becks’ PR is just too slick.

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It starts with just gossip, but Donovan and his hareem will only increase their attempts to slur Beckham's good name

It starts with just gossip, but Donovan and his hareem will only increase their attempts to slur Beckham's good name

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More here.

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T.

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Old ones.

Weekly Photoshop – Franck Ribery

16/07/2009

Everyone’s most in-demand Frenchman is this week’s theme. Franck Ribery is currently coveted by a host of major clubs, not least Real Madrid to complete their attacking foursome, Man Utd to replace Ronaldo and Chelsea as they need a marquee signing. It’ll be interesting to see if Bayern Munich end up selling to anyone, as they’ve been quite stubborn about it so far. Anyway, I did a couple this week so here you go:

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Harshly, Ribery's face is unsuitable for viewing by minors

Harshly, Ribery's face is unsuitable for viewing by minors.

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"Ach, I'm sure there was someone else I was meant to sign" - Fergie's memory gets a bit hazy in his old age.

"Ach, I'm sure there was someone else I was meant to sign" - Fergie's memory gets a bit hazy in his old age.

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The rest of this week’s gallery can be found here.

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T.

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Old ones can be found here.

Champions League Quarter Final Draw

22/03/2009

A slightly delayed reaction but some thoughts on Friday’s Champions League quarter final draw which came out like this:

Villarreal vs Arsenal
Man Utd
vs Porto
———-
Liverpool
vs Chelsea
Barcelona
vs Bayern Munich

From this

From this...

I think of the English sides, Arsenal and Man Utd will both be confident of reaching the final. Both will feel they can overcome their quarter final opponents and each has good reason to feel they can beat the other were they to face in a semi final. United because they have been the best team in England this season but also Arsenal as they are one of the few teams to have beaten the men from Old Trafford this year. I don’t think either side will underestimate Porto or Villarreal but ultimately both teams should win through.

Villarreal aren’t as good as the semi final side from 2006 (neither are Arsenal though come to think of it) and with Fabregas, Walcott, Eduardo and Adebayor all back by the first leg, there should be too much Arsenal firepower for the Spanish team. Man Utd will face a slightly trickier proposition against Porto (they always seem to find technical opponents more difficult) but they could quite easily wrap it up in the first leg at Old Trafford. Porto are notoriously bad travellers and got soundly beaten 4-0 at the Emirates in September.

The target.

The target.

Liverpool play Chelsea for the fifth season running, and both must be sick to death of each other. I think that counting other cup and league games, this will be the 23rd and 24th match between them in five years. Liverpool have had Benitez throughout while the Blues are on their fourth manager. It should hopefully be a more entertaining affair than some of the goalless dirge will have had in the past and I wouldn’t like to predict a winner at this stage. I guess on recent form Liverpool might be slight favourites but with the second leg at Stamford Bridge it could well go all the way to penalties.

The winners of the above tie will play Barcelona. I say this with some confidence. I think this will be the most entertaining quarter final and should more than likely result in victory for Barcelona over Bayern. Even though Bayern won 12-1 against Sporting, they aren’t a very good side (when compared to Europe’s best) and if the Catalans can stop Ribery and Klose than they should have more than enough firepower to proceed. I don’t want to speculate what Messi, Eto’o and Henry might do to Bayern’s defence when on top form.

There’ll be plenty more analysis closer to the time with a full preview of each game. For now though my fearless semi final prediction is much like the Football Guy’s:

 

Arsenal vs Manchester United
and
Liverpool
vs Barcelona.

to this.

to this.

 

We’ll see if I am right.

 

T.

Champions League Quarter Final Draw Preview

18/03/2009

So, following last week’s games we are down to eight teams left in Europe’s premier club competition:

Arsenal, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man Utd, Porto and Villarreal.

The draw on Friday essentially plots the route to the final for each team as the semi final draw will be made at the same time. There’s no country protection anymore so we get to potential rematches from last season between the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea. Let’s have a look at each team’s options.

Money, money, money.

Money, money, money.

 

Arsenal

How they qualified: Beat Roma 7-6 on penalties after drawing 1-1 on aggregate. Both sides won their home leg 1-0 but Arsenal held on despite going behind in the shootout. Convincing in the first leg, they rode their luck in the second but were missing key men like Fabregas and Adebayor.

Who they would like: Porto were beaten 4-0 at home in this season’s group stage and while the reserves played in the meaningless 2-0 away fixture. Villarreal were defeated in the 2006 semi finals while both Chelsea and Man Utd have been beaten in the league this year. Bayern Munich are much weaker than when the Gunners last faced them in 2005.

Who ITV/Sky would like them to get: Liverpool would provide the revenge angle following last season’s somewhat controversial defeat at the quarter final stage. Alex Hleb was denied a penalty in both legs and Arsenal were just six minutes away from going through before a softish penalty was given against Toure. Ex-captain and record goal scorer Thierry Henry has yet to face Arsenal since leaving for Barcelona (neither has Hleb but who cares) and he would certainly get an incredible reception at the Emirates. It could be argued Chelsea are still owed for the Wayne Bridge winner at Highbury in 2005. Bobby Pires is still plying his trade at Villarreal.

Ok deal, I'll join you next year.

Ok deal, I'll join you next year.

 

Chelsea

How they qualified: Edged out Juventus in a tight two legged affair. A 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge was taken to Turin and despite an early Juve goal, Essien’s away goal meant Chelsea were never in too much doubt. The Ghanaian’s return to fitness is incredibly important.  

Who they would like: Any English team would probably be welcomed just from the point of view that they don’t have an away Champions League win since 4-0 Rosenborg in the group stage last season. Their record against the Big Four is not great this season but that was before Hiddink came in. I’m sure he would relish a tactical battle with Rafa. Beyond that, the usual suspects of Bayern and Porto would hold no fears. I would include Villarreal in that list but strangley I think they’re the kind of side that would cause Chelsea real problems.   

Who ITV/Sky would like them to get: Barcelona have played them several times in past few years and there have always been lots of goals and lots of talking points. A lot had to do with The Special One but since Hiddink is a former Real Madrid manager I’m sure it would be quite tasty. They knocked out Liverpool in the semi’s last season so Benitez’s side will be out to avenge that one. 

I never tire of using this.

I never tire of using this.

 

Liverpool

How they qualified: Smashed Real Madrid 5-0 on aggregate inluding a 4-0 win at fortress Anfield. Real were shocking but once again Rafa got it tactically spot on.

Who they would like: Anyone except Barcelona I would say but even then he could probably find a way to negate their three goal a game attack.  At this stage no one holds any fear and Benitez can out-think most of the other managers remaining in the competition. After ties against Chelsea and Arsenal, only Man Utd have yet to be faced in Europe. Having crushed them 4-1 at Old Trafford last week, Liverpool would love to knock them out of Europe is they can’t prevent the record equalling 18th title. 

Who ITV/Sky would like them to get: Last season’s Arsenal factor has already been discussed above while another match against Chelsea would provide the fourth time they’ve faced each other in the knockout stages in the last five seasons, the other three all being semi finals. I’m sure Sky could make some kind of Rocky style montage previewing it. I wouldn’t like it if I were Abramovich though, I believe the Russian lost in Rocky IV.

 

Man Utd:

How they qualified: The red nosed one beat the Special One. Man Utd dominated Inter at the San Siro but came back with a 0-0 draw. Despite being talked up by Jose, his Inter team were relatively comfortably beaten 2-0 in the return leg despite having some good chances. 

Who they would like: Despite losing to Arsenal this year, Fergie would probably fancy beating them over two legs. He might want to put Rafa back in his place after the drubbing last week but I think United would be quite happy to avoid Liverpool for now. Bayern Munich would get soundly beaten I think and it would provide a chance for Ferguson to have a quiet word with Ribery about how great life at Old Trafford is. Porto would not provide too much of a test either. 

Who ITV/Sky would like them to get: Barcelona would be the glamour tie but TV bosses would rather have that as the final I suspect. Barca will want to score against them this time round after being held twice in the semi’s last year. Bayern Munich would be out to avenge the defeat in 1999 while Villarreal drew 0-0 with them twice in the group stage. Hmm, that would probably indicate the TV guys would like them to avoid each other. Man Utd vs Liverpool would provide the short term stories in terms of the 4-1 defeat but also the long term with the quarter finals scheduled around the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. It would make for an interesting scenario if UEFA didn’t keep their promise and forced Liverpool to play on the day at Old Trafford say. Fingers crossed it won’t come to that, I’m sure United would do the right thing anyway.

Defending champs no less.

Defending champs no less.

 

T.

The Six Pointer – Champions League Second Round Edition

12/03/2009

Midweek European action satisfaction.

 

1. Alex Ferguson will be pleased with his side’s victory last night, given the chances Inter created. A lot of pre-game talk was about the Mourinho factor but for all his ability, he needs to have the right players as well. At Chelsea he had people like Lampard and Drogba, who you know will always produce on the big stage. Zlatan may be a wonderful player on Youtube clips who’s capable of great goals and flicks, but at the very highest level I think he falls slightly short. He had several excellent chances over the two legs and failed to take any of them. It may be a season or two before Mourinho has made the squad completely his own. United took advantage of some sloppy defending to score two headed goals and rode their luck to see out the game. They are currently favourites with the bookies but that may all change once the draw for the quarters and semis are made. 

Vieira does a great job of 'marking' Vidic...

Vieira does a great job of 'marking' Vidic...

 

2. Liverpool got lucky with refereeing decisions for the first two goals in my opinion but used it to full advantage and certainly played well enough to warrant victory. Real were shockingly bad and lack both pace and power, something Liverpool (and all the English sides for that matter) have in abundance. Ramos has done very well since coming in but he has a squad of mainly one paced players and the only one who is quick (Robben) was anonymous on Tuesday. Rafa has had a bit of a moan about his European record isn’t respected. I think it is, everyone knows that tactically he’s one of the best in Europe and in Gerrard and Torres he has two gladiators who keep going and going. Once more their title challenge has faded but I imagine they’ll come close in Europe again.

 

3. Arsenal were pretty poor against Roma, who themselves weren’t great. Juan’s early goal made for a very tense night but neither side had the quality to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Roma had a very good shout for a penalty when Clichy fouled Motta at the end of the first half, and Julio Baptista missed an absolute sitter late in the second. It soon became clear that the match was destined for penalties and the shootout was quite strange. For the first time in a long time there wasn’t a single player I was fully confident of scoring, not even RVP. Thankfully only Eduardo missed for Arsenal and series of average penalties (interspersed with quality ones from Totti and the Beast) were taken before Tonetto blasted the deciding one over the bar. Wenger will be thankful that Fabregas and Adebayor will be back for the quarter finals, providing much needed guile in midfield and presence up front. They’ll want to take more of their chances at home too, as the next opponents are unlikely to be as forgiving as Roma.

We have lift off...

We have lift off...

 

4. Barcelona were efficient in taking apart a Lyon side who have never managed to turn French dominance into European success. Seven successive league titles have yet to produce a Champions League campaign that went beyond the quarter finals and you wonder if they can even manage that in coming seasons with Juninho getting older and Benzema likely to leave in the next year or two. Barca meanwhile seem to have rediscovered their form following a little domestic blip. Their defence is a lot better this season and they have the firepower to score against anyone, Henry in particular showing he still has it with his 50th Champions League goal. The one question mark that remains is goalkeeper Victor Valdes, a player I’m amazed is first choice for them. He’s the kind of player that is never far away from a mistake and I suspect if Barcelona get knocked out, he will have something to do with it. Just imagine if someone of the caliber of Casillas played for them instead… 

 

5. Despite Bayern racking up a record 12-1 aggregate victory over Sporting, I don’t think they’re a team to be feared in the quarter finals. They’ve been inconsistent all season and rely too much on star player Franck Ribery. I’m not convinced Klinsmann has the tactical nous to take on the wiser heads remaining in the quarter finals, let alone the players.

 

6. Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have both been going on record about how it’s bad that English clubs are dominating at the moment. That is true to an extent but it’s no different to when Italian and Spanish teams both had periods of dominance and English clubs failed each year. Let’s not forget that even with Man United and Liverpool’s recent victories, English clubs have only won the tournament three times since the Champions League format was introduced in 1992/3. That’s one behind Spanish and Italian teams. Bearing in mind no one has retained the trophy since the new format came in, I think that as long as you’re getting different winners every year then there isn’t too much of an issue. I’m sure next week’s draw will see at least one all English pairing in the quarter finals anyway.

Remember these guys?

Remember these guys?

 

There’s more analysis to follow from P.

 

T.

Champions League Preview – Sporting Lisbon vs Bayern Munich

25/02/2009

A few years ago Bayern Munich were one of the most feared teams in Europe but more recently have struggled to convert their dominance in Germany into Champions League success. Since a run of finalists/semi-finalists/winners from 1999-2001, they have yet to go past the quarter finals since. Their decline has been so significant that last season they weren’t even in Europe’s premier competition at all, having finished 4th in the Bundesliga in 2006-07. Since then though they have spent big money on players like Franck Ribery and installed everyone’s favourite diver from the 1990’s Jurgen Klinsmann as manager in an attempt to get back to the glory days.

Yes! We've got a consolation.

Yes! We've got a consolation.

Sporting meanwhile haven’t won the Primeira Liga for eight years but have been runners up for the past three seasons thus comfortably qualifying for the Champions League. Such is the dominance of the big three clubs in Portugal, only two titles have ever been won by someone not named Porto, Benfica or Sporting. They have a talented young squad and players like Miguel Veloso and captain Joao Moutinho are coveted by many big clubs.

I think that's him celebrating

I think that's him celebrating

 

Form

Following a disastrous fourth place finish in 2007 (their lowest since 6th in 1994-95) Bayern set about rebuilding with a massive spending spree. Amongst the new signings were Miroslav Klose, Luca Toni and record buy Franck Ribery. They duly delivered the title last season but following the instalment of Klinsmann as manager in the summer they have once again struggled this year and currently find themselves in 4th place. Though they are only four points off the pace being set by Hamburg, they made their worst start in 30 years and have lost three of the last four. In contrast though the Champions League group stages saw them comfortably top Group F ahead of Lyon and go unbeaten in their six games. Either way it’s clear Klinsmann has yet to fully put his stamp on Bayern.

Sporting were in the same group as Barcelona and whilst they lost twice to the Catalans they comfortably won their other four games against Shakhtar and Basel. They lie in third place domestically and go into the match with average form despite having won their last two games. I think that having a big game against Benfica at the weekend will actually have helped them as they will have had the chance to adjust to a higher quality of opposition rather than going in cold against Bayern.

 

Key players

Bayern will look to star player Ribery to create openings for Toni and Klose upfront. Though he only has three assists in the league the league this season he has been fouled 66 times, by the far the most of any Bayern player. This would indicate the opposition try to take him out before he’s in a position to do any damage. This is perhaps only moderately successful as he has scored six times too. The two strikers have quite a formidable partnership, so much so that Lukas Podolski is leaving Bayern for Cologne this summer in order to get some first team football. In addition to both having nine league goals, Polish born Klose already has five Champions League goals to his name too. Sporting will have to be wary of his aerial presence as well as Toni’s physical style and come hither eyes.

He'll get booked for that...

He'll get booked for that...

Sporting will look to try and control central midfield through the aforementioned Veleso and Moutinho and then hope that Liedson can feed on the service provided by former Barcelona player Fabio Rochemback and Russian Marat Izmailov. If he can’t then they will be relying on Spurs flop Helder Postiga. The less said about that the better.

 

The call                                                                                        

I think this tie could be quite entertaining with a few goals in it. Sporting will look to try and get a lead at home to then defend at the Allianz Arena, and will be confident of scoring past a Bayern defence which has conceded 30 times in just 21 league games. Bayern’s saving grace is that they have several players capable of getting a goal out of nothing, none more so than Ribery.

Though Sporting have conceded only 14 in 19 games domestically, I suspect that is more a reflection on the weakness of the Portuguese league than the strength of their defence. Barcelona put five past them in Portugal and though Bayern are not on the same level they should provide a sterner test than most teams Sporting have faced so far this season. The Germans seem to play with more freedom in Europe as there isn’t the weight of expectation to win every game that comes in the Bundesliga. They only let in four goals in the group stage and beat Lyon away which is something Barcelona couldn’t manage last night. They may well lose 2-1 tonight but I back them to overturn any deficit in the second leg.

I hope they use energy saving lightbulbs...

I hope they use energy saving lightbulbs...

 

 

T.


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