Riding a 14-match unbeaten streak across all competitions, FC Bayern Munich will travel up the E52 to battle Stuttgart. Bayern administered a harsh whooping when these clubs met in Week 2, but VfB has turned it around a bit to climb the table and get back to respectability.
As we discussed in the second half preview, FC Bayern's first chunk of matches (before Champions League play starts) will take us through mid-February. During this 5-match stretch, we can't win any titles, but avoiding any slip-ups would put us well on track towards the Bundesliga crown. Stuttgart has clawed their way up to mid-table, but for some reason we usually play pretty well against them ...
... and I think the main reason is the play of former VfB man Mario Gomez. Original Mario always seems to play great against his old team. In fact, there might be the makings of a real story here. Hang on while I dig up some numbers.
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OK, I calculated all this myself, so correct me if you know of any errors: in the summer of 2009, Gomez was brought over to Munich. In the first match against his old team, he played the full 90 (this was in October of 2009 - long before any of you knew me, and it might have even been during the pre-Luke era). He went scoreless in a disappointing 0-0 draw. In the subsequent match, when Stuttgart visited the Allianz, he didn't even get onto the pitch in Bayern's 2-1 loss. Since then, though, here's Mario's game log in matches vs. VfB:
|Dec. 19, 2010||Bundesliga||Bayern wins, 5-3||3 goals|
|Dec. 22, 2010||DFB Pokal||Bayern wins, 6-3||1 goal|
|May 24, 2011||Bundesliga||Bayern wins, 2-1||1 goal|
|Dec. 11, 2011||Bundesliga||Bayern wins, 2-1||2 goals|
|Feb. 8, 2012||DFB Pokal||Bayern wins, 2-0||1 goal|
|Apr. 28, 2012||Bundesliga||Bayern wins, 2-0||1 goal|
|Sep. 2, 2012||Bundesliga||Bayern wins, 6-1||DNP - injury|
OK, some things to unpack:
- first of all, Gomez aside, we really kick the crap out of these guys (considering they're not bad overall - finished top 6 in 2 of the past 3 seasons)
- in December of 2010, we played VfB twice in the span of 3 days - once in the league, once in the Pokal. There were 17 goals scored total, 4 by Gomez, in 2 wild Bayern wins
- in the last 6 Bayern vs. Stuttgart matches in which Gomez has played, he has 9 goals in 6 Bayern wins. And if you think he wouldn't have found himself on the scoreboard in the most recent tail-kicking if he were healthy, you're crazy
Anyway, this was supposed to be the "Line-Up" section, so that was all a long-winded way of saying I think MG will get the nod at striker. My guess:
Ribery - Kroos - Robben
Martinez - Schweinsteiger
Alaba - Boateng - van Buyten - Lahm
Nothing against Mueller and Dante (2 of our best players), just a hunch as far as rotation.
I always thought the letters in the top of their logo looked like flames. But upon closer inspection, it's just the top of the V and the B in that weird Middle-Ages font. Am I alone in thinking this?
Anyway, VfB recovered from a rough early season to climb back towards the middle of the table. But last week's 2-0 loss at Wolfsburg was certainly discouraging for VfB supporters. That loss, though, was without the services of Vedad Ibisevic (suspended through accumulated yellows), who will be back this weekend. Along with Christian Gentner and Martin Harnik, Ibisevic can threaten our back line if he gets a chance.
Interestingly, WhoScored ranks William Kvist as VfB's most efficient player. But he's missed some time with injury, and spent last week on the bench. I'm not sure if his supposed statistical excellence is just an illusion, or if he really does a lot of little things right. Hopefully we'll get a chance to see him this weekend.
Elsewhere in the Competition
BVB hosts Nuernberg tomorrow afternoon in something of a mismatch. But there are some other tempting matches over the next few days. Leverkusen travels to Freiburg in Saturday's late match. If the Freis can take at least a point out of that one, they establish themselves as legitimate continental contenders (and also help us get a chance to extend our lead). And Hamburg will battle Werder B in a match between local rivals up north.
- We're in the marquee match-up of the evening, getting Sunday night billing. Here's what time we kick off in your local zone:
Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com
- This Hungarian article appears to link Bayern with Mesut Oezil. I don't want to get too excited, but ... can't help it. Man, that would be a dream come true.
- Whoever's emailing me in Farsi, I have absolutely no clue what you're saying. Sorry.
- Suarez? Can't see that happening, but I've heard about it from a few sources. We'll keep an eye on the situation and let you know if you hear anything concrete. Thanks for reading.