Analysis: Smart Play by Kroos Leads to First Bayern Goal

Alexander Hassenstein - Bongarts/Getty Images

Hello, all. Sorry for my absence over the past 4 days. Things have been very hectic in the non-Bayern-related portions of my life. I come, however, bearing gifts:

STAT-BOX SHADOWS

A PLAY IN 12 ACTS

FC Bayern vs. Hoffenheim. We pick it up in the 19th minute of the first half. Bayern has just won a throw in on the near (right) side of the pitch. Lahm takes the throw and attempts to find Mandzu on the short side-high:

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But Mandzukic can't cleanly win the header. The best he can do is shoulder off a defender, but the ball will bounce to a Hoffenheim player pretty much no matter which way it goes. You'll also notice that TSG has plenty of defenders back (marked in pink) - nine guys in the middle or back of the pitch, including the one off-camera that I've pointed out on the right:

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Anyway, as mentioned the ball bounces upfield to closest Hoffenheim player, who I believe might be Compper. He takes whomp at it, trying to just send it back downfield.

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Probably a good move by him - if he'd tried to handle it, Mandzukic might have had a chance for a steal. As I pointed out, in the next shot, the ball is just outside the frame:

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High and arching, coming down in the middle of the pitch, Kroos doesn't seem to have the inside track. He's also not that tall and not that great a jumper. So it seems like Hoffenheim will have a good chance to win the header and play the ball clear. There's only one problem for Hoffenheim ...

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TONI WANTS IT MORE.

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He wins the ball and ^ sends a low, accurate header to Müller, who's a little upfield and moving right-to-center. Müller stops the ball and wait for his teammates to cut through. And already, you can see the play developing:

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As Müller has Kroos in the near channel and Ribery on the far side. At this point, Kroos follows up his nice header with a smart play: he sprints upfield into the open space, forcing defenders to converge and mark him:

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This ^ is a new angle, but the same spot in the sequence. The obvious play for Müller is to lay it off short to Kroos and give him a chance to try one of his patented edge-of-goal-box blasts. But with Kroos moving through the open space and attracting defenders, Tommy sees an even better play:

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As you can see, three defenders are focused on Kroos (either ready to steal a pass to him, or ready to take away his chance at a shot if he corrals the ball). But wait a minute, who's that on the far left side?

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It's Franck Ribery, at full speed, with plenty of room on the edge and with only one man in front of him. As Shaquille O'Neal would say "that's like a barbecue chicken dinner to me."

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Ribery with a quick head fake, then pulls it back to the right where he has plenty of room to load up a hard, accurate shot. And you guys know me, I'm a sucker for the blurry ball-crossing-line shot:

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Müller gets the assist and Franck gets the goal. Toni Kroos, however, makes it happen. He makes two plays that will never show up in the stat-box: the perfectly-timed header to win the ball in the middle of the field, followed by the hard run through the right-middle to draw three defenders forward. No one keeps track of numbers for "great decoy run," so you won't see that in the stat-box. But that's the kind of aggressive-yet-unselfish play that leads to goals.

If you've been emailing or tweeting me over the past 3 days, I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. I'll clean out my inbox tonight. We'll be back tomorrow with a preview of Germany vs. Ireland (I think?) and a look at some other WC qualifiers and a few related points. Thanks for reading.

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