Bavarian derbies have become rather common affairs this season. Five such derbies have already been contested in the league and DFB Pokal with two remaining. Bayern has won four out of the five derbies. They only drew one; FC Nürnberg took off the only away points Bayern has lost all season in the meeting in Franconia. Will Bayern want revenge?
FC Nürnberg was doing quite well under Dieter Hecking, quietly heading away from the relegation zone. Hecking's decision to depart for Wolfsburg mid season was slightly surprising considering just how well the side was doing under his tutelage. Feeling that just one man would not be enough to stand in for Hecking, Nürnberg hired a coaching duo. Michael Weisinger and Armin Reutershahn were hired to fill Hecking's gigantic shoes. The decision to hire a duo was perhaps inspired to a certain extent by Bayer Leverkusen's successes under Sami Hyppia and Sascha Lewandowski.
The team started off decently enough; results were just what they needed to be except that one hammering at the hands of BVB (3-0) of course. Recently, Nürnberg has been excellent. They battered Schalke 3-0 a couple of weeks ago. They earned a good draw against Wolfsburg next (even though Wolfsburg was at home and Wolfsburg's home record is rather awful) and followed that up with a highly impressive win over Mainz. Bavaria's second biggest club now sits in tenth place, only four points away from a Europa League spot.
The current squad consists of some players who have earned plenty of plaudits for their displays. One of them is the Swiss Timm Klose. Klose seems quite assured at the back. Markus Feulner of course scored in the 1-1 draw in Franconia. Aside from them, the squad is filled with experienced players such as ex Stuttgart man Timo Gebhart, ex Leverkusen player Hanno Balitsch, Raphael Schäfer and Timmy Simmons. Simmons idolizes one favorite Dutchman of ours (or at least mine) Mark Van Bommel. The squad also has capable youngsters such as Tomas Pekhart and Alexander Esswein. Hiroshi Kiyotake, their speedy midfielder, is another dangerous star of theirs.
Another familiar name on the squad is Javier Pinola. Pinola is perhaps the one who inspires hatred between the two sides; he spit on Bastian Schweinsteiger not too long ago, earning himself a ban. That incident was definitely shameful for a proud club like Nürnberg. Nurnberg has a reason to be proud; they have dealt with the losses of Ilkay Gündogan, Julian Schieber and Philip Wollscheid to bigger clubs quite well. They definitely deserve plaudits for that.
The German Champions
Nürnberg is a patient side which can sit back for hours and wait to hit the opposition on the counterattack. The perfect antidote to that kind of a team is the current German champion, FC Bayern Munich. Derbies have been rather tricky affairs for Bayern this season. Both the matches against Greuther Fürth were standard wins at best with little to show in terms of highlights. The matches against Augsburg had the potential to turn ugly. In the league, Bayern won 0-2. An identical result was produced in the Pokal. Bayern of course played that match with ten men thanks to Franck Ribery.
In the reverse fixture against Nürnberg, the Bavarians had some tactical issues. They were lackluster and Nürnberg simply took advantage of this. Bayern did not press as well as they could and the Franconians took advantage. Mario Mandzukic had of course opened the scoring in that game during his hot streak in the league. Speaking of Mandzukic, Jupp Heynckes might just decide to use a different forward in this match to give match practice to the other two forwards ahead of the first leg of the Champions League semifinals.
Bayern was handed many plaudits for their performance in Turin. However, there are some things which need to be addressed. In the first half hour, Bayern seemed to be a team which was drunk on a Bundesliga title. Bastian Schweinsteiger was rather poor during that time. Fortunately for him, the back four stood strong. It was the tactical nous of the Bavarians which brought them back into the match. While those final sixty minutes were a masterclass, there were some heart in mouth moments. Manuel Neuer's brilliance was key to the second leg win.
Also, the importance of Mandzukic cannot be underestimated. Claudio Pizarro's goal showed us that the fact that Mario Gomez will start the semi is not a given. It was Pizarro who started the initial Champions League matches for Bayern this season. Heynckes will have one eye on the midweek DFB Pokal semifinal against Wolfsburg of course when he selects the lineup for this match.
Holger Badstuber and Toni Kroos are out of this one and perhaps for the season. Daniel Van Buyten left the pitch early in Turin due to being dizzy. He should be back fit for this one. Luiz Gustavo is suspended of course for the accumulation of five yellow cards in the league. Adam Hlousek and Marcos Antonio are both out for Nürnberg. Gebhart is out due to a thigh issue
Anatoliy Tymoshchuk- Javier Martinez
Thomas Müller- Xherdan Shaqiri- David Alaba
Will Bayern win this derby against Nürnberg? Let us know your thoughts!