The two group stage survivors of Germany’s Champions League contingent meet in Munich on Saturday when 7th place VfB Stuttgart come to town to play FC Bayern Munich. The match will air live on GOLTV beginning at 10:30 a.m. Eastern.
This will be the first time that FC Bayern lines up against Stuttgart under manager Christian Gross. Markus Babbel’s replacement has done a fine job with the team, compiling an 8-2-2 record in the league since taking over in December. Reviews of the Champions League campaign under Gross are perhaps more of a split decision. Stuttgart could be saluted for their first leg battle with Barcelona, but in the end the tie ended up resembling Bayern’s meeting with Barcelona last season.
As for their league form, Stuttgart has mainly been inconsistent. A win at home against Hannover, a loss away at Schalke and a draw away at Bremen (a match they let slip away late) in their last 3. At the end of February, Cacau was scoring on about every other touch of the ball, but he has cooled a bit in recent weeks. Instead, it’s Marica who was the star last week, scoring both in the 2-1 over Hannover. Marica also scored their only goal at Schalke, a match where Stuttgart dominated possession.
Stuttgart have a couple injury problems to keep an eye on at the moment. Zdravko Kuzmanovic and former Bayern amateur Stefano Celozzi are questionable for the match. Christian Träsch could step in for either one of them, but if both are missing it could cause a shuffle in Stuttgart’s plans. The match will also be the final Munich appearance of that Oliver Kahn wannabe Jens Lehmann. Will Bayern present Lehmann with a bronze adult diaper as a parting gift? You’ll have to tune in..
One statistical anomaly jumps out when looking at Stuttgart: On 3 occasions this season, they have given up a penalty in the last 15 minutes of a match. I don’t hope to replicate the mode of victory against Freiburg, but I guess if there’s a chance of that happening again, it is most likely to happen against Stuttgart. For much more on Stuttgart, check out their Wednesday training session and be sure to give Pete some love at the Stuttgart Offside.
Heavy Legs, Heady Times
Thursday didn’t produce any signals of excessive wear and tear from our long night in Gelsenkirchen. Schweini’s late match problems looked more like cramps than anything else, so the Bayern Offside kindly reminds Schweini to hydrate properly. It’s natural to assume that Robben was the most tired of the bunch, but I don’t see him starting on the bench in this one. Mario Gomez was ruled out on Thursday, but hopes to be available for the first leg against Man Utd. Martin Demichelis returned to training on Thursday, but you can’t expect more than a cameo appearance from him at best (then prepare for the story on Monday that Demichelis is unhappy with playing 3 minutes).
It’s an interesting dilemma Louis van Gaal has in midfield. Frankly, I don’t believe he’s found the solution he would like for replacing Schweini in the first leg match with Man Utd. Yes, he could trot Tymo out there for a half and see how it goes, but frankly the pace of this match will probably not be very good preparation for Wednesday. So I expect you will see Schweini out there for 90, and that the same starting 11 from Wednesday will be out there.
Bayern come into this match with a much different lineup than they had when they visited Stuttgart for a dreary 0-0 in the fall. Ribery, Robben and Olic didn’t play in that match and while Bayern will be constantly accused of leaning entirely on Robben, attentive fans know Olic was the catalyst for the fall turnaround. Olic may not start on Saturday, but he will finally get on the scoresheet again as Stuttgart’s rotten luck in Munich will continue after the teams play a tight first 45 minutes.
FC Bayern Munich 2:1 VfB Stuttgart