Match Week 11 of the 2012-2013 Bundesliga season. Although Bayern's pair of losses this season have been discouraging (the inexplicable BATE loss, then the collapse vs. Leverkusen), you have to be happy with the way they've responded. After the first loss, they reeled off 3 straight wins by a combined score of 8 to nil. Now, after the Leverkusen loss, the boys have won 3 straight by a total of 13 to 1. A win here would leave us in a great shape, but Eintracht won't give us the points just for showing up.
Striker options abound ... Mandzukic will apparently be ready after recovering from a stomach virus. Claudio Pizarro not only scored a hat trick on Wednesday, but looked great doing it. He know how to make himself a good target for passes and long balls, he has good timing, and being forced to take playing time in short bursts apparently hasn't hurt his form. Then, of course, there's Gomez, who is said to be within 2 weeks of a return. He's still not ready yet, though.
Looks like Gustavo is out with a sprain. No news today on Badstuber. He was said to be out for 2 weeks, and that was about 12 days ago, but I doubt he'll dress. I think the back 4 will remain as is. Here's my guess:
Ribery - Kroos - Robben
Martinez - Schweinsteiger
Alaba - Dante - Boateng - Lahm
Mueller and Shaqiri as first guys off the bench if we need them.
Eintracht Frankfurt has been one of the big stories this year. Sure, there's no doubt they weren't the typical newly-promoted team, having spent most of their career in the top flight, and playing in a big, nice stadium. But even as the best of the 3 up-comers, I doubt anyone would have guessed they'd be level with Schalke in second place. To be honest, the early loss in the Pokal might have been a blessing in (a very poor) disguise - they weren't likely to win the cup anyway, and this has allowed them some rest and relaxation time when other clubs are playing mid-week matches.
Although they've beaten Hamburg, Hannover, and a few other decent sides, possibly their most impressive match was a draw. In Match Week 5, Eintracht was trailing Borussia Dortmund 2-0 at the half, but fought back valiantly and came away with a point, despite Dortmund fielding a full line-up and mostly playing a pretty solid match. Subsequently, Frankfurt has fallen slightly (they did not look great in last week's draw vs. SpVgg), but they're still a dangerous foe that could easily put a goal past us and then force Bayern to take the initiative.
Previously-unheralded Alexander Meier is probably their most dangerous offensive weapon. The 29-year old has been with Frankfurt for a while, and stuck with the club when they went down for last season. This year, he has 7 goals in the 1. Bundesliga, including 5 in his last 5 matches (!). Meier is level with Tommy on the league scoring leaders' chart, one behind Mandzukic and Szalai (who jointly lead the league with 8). Olivier Occean, the Canadian veteran, plays above / next to Meier in the Frankfurt formation. Also, they have a Brazilian named Anderson who is not "the" Brazilian named Anderson. Good thing for Frankfurt, too, because it turns out "original Anderson" is actually not that good.
Elsewhere in the Competition
Mainz is beating Nuernberg as I write this, with 15 minutes to hang on for the win. if they can do so, Mainz could climb back into one of the Europa spots, depending upon other results. Tomorrow, Dortmund travels to Augsburg in a sure-fire ass-kicking, Schalke 04 hosts suddenly hot Werder Bremen (undefeated in 3 straight, outscoring opponents 7-2 during that stretch). I still like Schalke in that one, but it won't be easy. By the way, Nils Petersen has 2 goals and an assist during Werder B's current 3 game unbeaten streak. Leverkusen vs. Wolfsburg highlights Sunday.
- We kick off at 3:30 PM local time tomorrow - for the starting time in your area, click on the following object:
Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com
- Reports of Jupp Heynckes retiring at year's end were, as expected, entirely premature.
- The club has no mid-week match this week, so we're off from tomorrow night until next Saturday. After that, though, it's a grind: 9 matches between November 17 and December 19. That stretch will include a trip to Valencia, a rematch vs. BATE Borisov, a home match vs. Dortmund, and 2 visits to Augsburg within the span of 11 days (one being a Pokal match). Good thing we stocked the cabinet this past summer.
- I'll be travelling tomorrow, and unsure of my TV and internet availability. I'm pretty sure I should still be able to watch the match and to do Match Day Thread and a recap; if I can't though, I'll be back Sunday night with something new. Don't panic, I'm not going to disappear. Thanks for reading.