Bayern 2014-2015: Storming Through Half the Rückrunde

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twoBshorty

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In Pep Guardiola's first season with Bayern, they won the UEFA SuperCup, the Club World Cup, the DFB Pokal, and of course the Bundesliga. They clinched the Bundesliga with 7 weeks left in the season, the fastest it's ever been done, then proceeded to take their foot off the pedal and get it caught under the floor mat. Unfortunately, there were Champions League matches still left to play. Losing a CL semifinal isn't the end of the world, but 0-4 at home? A big fat turd on what was otherwise a pretty captivating season. 
 
Bayern have lost some players since the end of the season: Daniel Van Buyten was not offered a contract extension. Mario Mandzukic has been sold to Atletico Madrid after becoming unhappy with his place in Pep's system. Toni Kroos is almost certainly going to be sold to Real Madrid soon, after contract extension talks broke down. Lukas Raeder is also leaving, though nobody particularly cares. Of these four, Kroos is the only one that really matters, but he is a huge loss. Xherdan Shaqiri was rumored to be going to Liverpool, but Matthias Sammer recently put the kibosh on that, at least verbally.
 
The newcomers so far are Robert Lewandowski, Sebastian Rode, and Juan Bernat. Lewandowski is an obvious upgrade from Mandzukic. Bernat will probably be a Diego Contento upgrade as a backup for David Alaba at LB, and Rode may deploy at RB. Also, Holger Badstuber has risen from the dead, but I'm not sure where he fits in, if at all.
 
Seven Bayern players were on the World Cup-winning German squad, and Dante and Arjen Robben were involved in (or at least had to attend, in Dante's case) the third place match, so it's likely to be a pretty ragtag bunch featuring through much of the preseason while everybody's on vacation. Bayern are visiting New York and Portland the first week of August. 
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I imagine the big question with this team will be age.  Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Robben, Ribery, and Dante are now all 30-31. Especially the way the game is played today, its a huge grind to play 40-50 matches between league, cups, and CL every year and then to go deep into international tournaments every other summer.  You could argue that most of these players are still at the top of their game but some kind of decline is probably not far away.
 
All that said, I imagine they'll still win the Bundesliga without breaking a sweat.
 

JimBoSox9

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twoBshorty said:
Seven Bayern players were on the World Cup-winning German squad, and Dante and Arjen Robben were involved in (or at least had to attend, in Dante's case) the third place match, so it's likely to be a pretty ragtag bunch featuring through much of the preseason while everybody's on vacation. Bayern are visiting New York and Portland the first week of August. 
9 players on one club making the WC semifinals seems like it should be rare. Is it amazing or am I easily amazed?
 

coremiller

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Morgan's Magic Snowplow said:
I imagine the big question with this team will be age.  Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Robben, Ribery, and Dante are now all 30-31. Especially the way the game is played today, its a huge grind to play 40-50 matches between league, cups, and CL every year and then to go deep into international tournaments every other summer.  You could argue that most of these players are still at the top of their game but some kind of decline is probably not far away.
 
All that said, I imagine they'll still win the Bundesliga without breaking a sweat.
 
Especially since they just poached their biggest rival's top scorer this summer.
 
The guys you mentioned are getting older, but they've also got Thiago (23), Javi Martinez (25), Shaqiri (22), Boateng (25), Gotze (22), Muller (24), Alaba (22), Badstuber (25), and Lewandowski (25).  Plus Julian Green.  They are stacked and will be for a long time.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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coremiller said:
 
Especially since they just poached their biggest rival's top scorer this summer.
 
The guys you mentioned are getting older, but they've also got Thiago (23), Javi Martinez (25), Shaqiri (22), Boateng (25), Gotze (22), Muller (24), Alaba (22), Badstuber (25), and Lewandowski (25).  Plus Julian Green.  They are stacked and will be for a long time.
 
No doubt.  But the older players remain the core of the squad, the group that has elevated them from a team that regularly tops the Bundesliga to a team that has been the best in Europe for two years.  They have some great younger members of the team but if the older group experiences a significant decline - which I'm not saying will necessarily happen this year but is a danger going forward - then Bayern moves back behind Real and Barca, and potentially some of the English teams as well, in the European pecking order.
 
Edit: On another note, I'm interested to see how Lewandowski integrates into the team.  He's been the perfect striker for BvB because he's so lethal on the counter and finding space to poach in the box in situations in which the defense is somewhat unsettled.  I'm sure he'll continue to excel in those situations, giving the team a new dimension.  But in situations in which the other team has everybody behind the ball, which happens a lot more when playing Pep-ball than when playing Klopp-ball, its not clear to me that he'll offer more than Mandzukic as a box striker.
 

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coremiller said:
The guys you mentioned are getting older, but they've also got Thiago (23), Javi Martinez (25), Shaqiri (22), Boateng (25), Gotze (22), Muller (24), Alaba (22), Badstuber (25), and Lewandowski (25).  Plus Julian Green.  They are stacked and will be for a long time.
Apropos of nothing: Your inclusion (even if it's arguably unwarranted) of Julian Green as a reason one of the top teams in Europe is "stacked" makes me giddy for the USMNT.
 

twoBshorty

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Morgan's Magic Snowplow said:
 
No doubt.  But the older players remain the core of the squad, the group that has elevated them from a team that regularly tops the Bundesliga to a team that has been the best in Europe for two years.  They have some great younger members of the team but if the older group experiences a significant decline - which I'm not saying will necessarily happen this year but is a danger going forward - then Bayern moves back behind Real and Barca, and potentially some of the English teams as well, in the European pecking order.
 
Edit: On another note, I'm interested to see how Lewandowski integrates into the team.  He's been the perfect striker for BvB because he's so lethal on the counter and finding space to poach in the box in situations in which the defense is somewhat unsettled.  I'm sure he'll continue to excel in those situations, giving the team a new dimension.  But in situations in which the other team has everybody behind the ball, which happens a lot more when playing Pep-ball than when playing Klopp-ball, its not clear to me that he'll offer more than Mandzukic as a box striker.
 
Schweinsteiger seems to already be in decline, at least the Bayern version. He had a pretty poor season last year, constantly injured or off-form--it was very surprising to me how good he then looked in the national team. 
 

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http://mashable.com/2014/07/17/bayern-munich-usa/
 
Bayern Munich on Thursday launched a USA-specific website — what it says is the first of its kind in global soccer to offer specific content for American fans, as opposed to simple English translations of more general content. The site launch comes after Bayern opened its first overseas office, in New York City, earlier this year. And later this month, the club launches a brief American tour highlighted by a match against Chivas Guadalajara in New Jersey on July 31 and a showcase against Major League Soccer all-stars in Portland, Oregon.
 
 

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Philipp Lahm lays down german national shirt:
http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/worldcup/philipp-lahm-retires-from-international-football-germany-captain-steps-down-from-national-duty-less-than-a-week-after-winning-the-world-cup-9614168.html
 
This can only be good for FC Bayern. 10 additional matches (plus countless training sessions) per calender year (or season, however you twist it) saved. That´s a huge plus for him now. 113 national matches in 10 years is a lot. Think of three more such years with all the wear and tear of deep CL runs and he can only be fresher than Schweinsteiger.
 

twoBshorty

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Schnerres said:
Philipp Lahm lays down german national shirt:
http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/worldcup/philipp-lahm-retires-from-international-football-germany-captain-steps-down-from-national-duty-less-than-a-week-after-winning-the-world-cup-9614168.html
 
This can only be good for FC Bayern. 10 additional matches (plus countless training sessions) per calender year (or season, however you twist it) saved. That´s a huge plus for him now. 113 national matches in 10 years is a lot. Think of three more such years with all the wear and tear of deep CL runs and he can only be fresher than Schweinsteiger.
 
Good for Bayern, but I am massively bummed right now anyway. Lahm is my favorite player, and I was sure he'd have one more go at a Euro trophy before hanging it up. This is an enormous loss for the national team, they don't have anybody who can even come close to replacing him. 
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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twoBshorty said:
 
Good for Bayern, but I am massively bummed right now anyway. Lahm is my favorite player, and I was sure he'd have one more go at a Euro trophy before hanging it up. This is an enormous loss for the national team, they don't have anybody who can even come close to replacing him. 
 
I'm a bit surprised as well that he wouldn't wait until after Euro 2016.
 
Lahm is an amazing player, the best fullback that I've ever watched (although I never saw much of Maldini in his prime).  I literally cannot ever remember watching a match and thinking that Lahm had a stinker - some matches he might not be as influential or not do much going forward but I really cannot remember one in which I walked away afterward thinking that Lahm had been a significant problem, either for Bayern or for Germany.  I really only watch Bayern in the CL so maybe that's not a huge sample but he's just so freaking consistently good.
 

Schnerres

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Morgan's Magic Snowplow said:
 
I'm a bit surprised as well that he wouldn't wait until after Euro 2016.
 
Lahm is an amazing player, the best fullback that I've ever watched (although I never saw much of Maldini in his prime).  I literally cannot ever remember watching a match and thinking that Lahm had a stinker - some matches he might not be as influential or not do much going forward but I really cannot remember one in which I walked away afterward thinking that Lahm had been a significant problem, either for Bayern or for Germany.  I really only watch Bayern in the CL so maybe that's not a huge sample but he's just so freaking consistently good.
 
I know it´s harsh (and i will miss the guy), but as a german, we came so close now a few times and we remember mistakes :) , and Lahm is not faultless. He may have minimized his mistakes through the years, but in midfield vs. Ghana for example, he had some lost balls that could have resulted in goals. And when you say you can´t remember a stinker...well, you may remember some spanish babyface sucking his thumb after shooting Spain to their first title in years in 08, but how he got to that ball was below Kreisliga (the 9th out of 10 league levels) on the defensive part...and was forgotten(??).
And you probably remember some italian guy (who already faded again into insanity) taking off his shirt flexing his muscles after he scored the decisive 2-0 in semifinals in Euro12. But how he got to the ball was forgotten...
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Schnerres said:
 
I know it´s harsh (and i will miss the guy), but as a german, we came so close now a few times and we remember mistakes :) , and Lahm is not faultless. He may have minimized his mistakes through the years, but in midfield vs. Ghana for example, he had some lost balls that could have resulted in goals. And when you say you can´t remember a stinker...well, you may remember some spanish babyface sucking his thumb after shooting Spain to their first title in years in 08, but how he got to that ball was below Kreisliga (the 9th out of 10 league levels) on the defensive part...and was forgotten(??).
And you probably remember some italian guy (who already faded again into insanity) taking off his shirt flexing his muscles after he scored the decisive 2-0 in semifinals in Euro12. But how he got to the ball was forgotten...
 
I'm definitely not claiming he's never made a mistake or been beaten by an attacker!  That's a bar that nobody will ever clear.  But, yes, those are two good examples (having just rewatched on Youtube) of Lahm really being at fault on critical goals.
 

twoBshorty

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He was also playing LB on both of those, which is not his preferred side and where he is much weaker defensively. I'm hard pressed to think of similar mistakes on the right.
 

sachmoney

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Gotta wonder how much the World Cup affected that decision. I don't just mean going out on top, but also where he played and those circumstances. He started in the holding role where he struggled to get the ball out of his feet both against Ghana and Portugal. He was moved back to right back both out of necessity and they won. With the central midfielders that Germany already has established and players like Lars Bender coming up, it would seem tough for Lahm to keep that position and he'd probably be a fullback for the national team going forward.
 
Lahm has been that utility knife that could fit in anywhere and play at a high level, but perhaps, he's realizing that he needs some self preservation to prolong his career. With International duty off his plate, he can focus on Bayern and doing more of what he wants to do. I can't speak for Germans, but it seems like an understandable decision.
 
It sounds like Schnerres has a different view...
 

soxfan121

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Classy move by Lahm to step down now, as opposed to months from now or even before Euro 2016. The team needed to know sooner rather than later and decisiveness is often underrated. 
 
Additionally, this frees up the armband for Schweinsteiger (presumably) at Euro 2016, when he can then retire and pass it on to Mueller, etc. 
 
And sach makes a good point - going forward, Lahm is a club midfielder and his days of having the footspeed to play wide are short.
 

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sachmoney said:
Gotta wonder how much the World Cup affected that decision. I don't just mean going out on top, but also where he played and those circumstances. He started in the holding role where he struggled to get the ball out of his feet both against Ghana and Portugal. He was moved back to right back both out of necessity and they won. With the central midfielders that Germany already has established and players like Lars Bender coming up, it would seem tough for Lahm to keep that position and he'd probably be a fullback for the national team going forward.
 
Lahm has been that utility knife that could fit in anywhere and play at a high level, but perhaps, he's realizing that he needs some self preservation to prolong his career. With International duty off his plate, he can focus on Bayern and doing more of what he wants to do. I can't speak for Germans, but it seems like an understandable decision.
 
It sounds like Schnerres has a different view...
 
Sorry, but i don´t understand what exactly you meant.
We germans loved Lahm as a defender. In midfield at this WC, not so much. Maybe this is a Pep- or Bayern-thing. But i think he should be a FB. Of course he makes some mistakes like everyone, but the problem is, do you make them in the last group match of a WC when you´re already qualified, do you make them in a qualification match to draw 4-4 vs. Sweden or do you make them in the Euro final. This hurts and is hard to be forgotten. I did not want to say i can´t stand him or think those losses came down to him. I just wanted to point out that he played a part in those losses. Same goes for Hummels/Badstuber, who both played a huge supporting role in that 1-0 for Italy in the Euro12. Same could have happened to Hummels with that lob for Palacio, when he misjudged that cross and Palacio lobbed over Neuer and missed the goal. If he scores, Hummels is the loser, he missed the goal, Hummels is one of the best players of the WC...weird, i know.
 
I said exactly it would be best for Bayern if Lahm steps down. He cannot be replaced in the national team by someone at this moment. Bender could play RB, Boateng, too (although he proved he should be CB with Hummels), and others will be there, too. Jogi Löw likes fast players and we have some guys with pace and technique (Ginter, too). The problem is, Lahm basically played there year in, year out and had hundreds of matches for Bayern in Bundesliga and a huge number of CL matches, too. Nobody brings that to the table right now, yet.
 
 
He was also playing LB on both of those, which is not his preferred side and where he is much weaker defensively. I'm hard pressed to think of similar mistakes on the right.
 
In the matches, yes. That influenced his performance and might have influenced some judgement in some situations. But i am not so sure about that. The goal vs. Italy was a long ball where he was 1-on-1 vs. Balotelli. He played on the right side in that situation. a) He misplayed the offside trap and then b) went for the ball and underran it. It was after a corner, so he was too alone back in the defense, which was not his mistake. But he could have saved that situation.
Vs.Spain, he already had that ball. And then Torres went completely around him and in between Lahm and Lehmann to poke the ball home. That was a huge mistake and had nothing to do with playing left/right/forward. He had to make a play or place his body in between.
 

sachmoney

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Schnerres said:
 
Sorry, but i don´t understand what exactly you meant.
We germans loved Lahm as a defender. In midfield at this WC, not so much. Maybe this is a Pep- or Bayern-thing. But i think he should be a FB. Of course he makes some mistakes like everyone, but the problem is, do you make them in the last group match of a WC when you´re already qualified, do you make them in a qualification match to draw 4-4 vs. Sweden or do you make them in the Euro final. This hurts and is hard to be forgotten. I did not want to say i can´t stand him or think those losses came down to him. I just wanted to point out that he played a part in those losses. Same goes for Hummels/Badstuber, who both played a huge supporting role in that 1-0 for Italy in the Euro12. Same could have happened to Hummels with that lob for Palacio, when he misjudged that cross and Palacio lobbed over Neuer and missed the goal. If he scores, Hummels is the loser, he missed the goal, Hummels is one of the best players of the WC...weird, i know.
I was just fishing for more of an explanation. The above explains your stance. Thanks.
 

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Pre-season US tour kicked off today in New York with an ugly, boring 1-0 win over Chivas Guadalajara. The goal came in the 10th minute and after that came 80 minutes of endless broken plays, poor finishing, and enough hacking and stoppages to rival the second half of Brazil-Colombia. CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has as yet been unable to join the tour after his visa waiver application didn't clear in time and he was denied boarding in Munich. Oops. 
 
The 6 Germany players are joining up in Portland after the team has come up with an absolutely daft plan to have them fly in from Munich on Wednesday morning, then immediately fly back with the team that night. Given that the World Cup schedule was known for awhile and Germany even making it to the quarterfinal (hardly a stretch to contemplate) would present a problem with mandatory player vacations, I can't help but feel the scheduling on this trip has been a bit idiotic. Why not next summer? 
 
Also, Bastian Schweinsteiger turns 30 today. Feels like he's been around forever. 
 

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Morgan's Magic Snowplow said:
Javi Martinez hurt his knee today and it looks bad.
 
Likely ACL tear, is what I heard. Great way to finish the pre-season!
 

soxfan121

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Ribery has retired from international competition to focus on his club career, underaged prostitutes.
 

soxfan121

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That's really unfair.
 
Ok, fine. Be that way. 
 
Ribery has retired from international competition to allegedly focus on his club career, underaged prostitutes. 
 
Happy now?
 

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ACL tear confirmed, out at least 6 months. Hopefully his recovery goes better than Holger Badstuber's.
 

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PedroSpecialK said:
Looks like Xabi Alonso may be on his way too
 
 
Utterly absurd if he's going to be on 10 millions Euros per year as reported. They should have just kept Kroos and paid him the wages he wanted.
 

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https://twitter.com/Squawka/status/483743712380723200/photo/1
Here it is, the most talked about heat map in history. Manuel Neuer.
 
 

 
Eat your heart out, Hugo Lloris.
 

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Germany played a high line and Algeria had a lot of long balls, Neuer came out of the box around 10 times to clear balls away. His sweeper-keeper play was tremendous
 
Later in the WC, I think the semifinal or final, he had a throw in. 
 

soxfan121

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That and his ability to extend the "zone of control" up-to and past the top of the box is like, unheard of. A typical keeper heat map is just the red areas and there's usually never anything above the top of the box. Neuer is not a typical keeper.
 

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Pep's 3-4-3 is pretty close to "reinverting the pyramid." Below is the average positioning of his team against Cologne.  Xabi Alonso smashed a Bundesliga record, getting on the ball an insane 204 times.
 
 
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