FC Bayern survived a very mediocre performance today to outlast FC Augsburg and pick up 3 points. ESPN's soccernet faked me out with their line-ups, stating that Kroos would play in midfield, but it turned out David Alaba took the injured Bastian Schweinsteiger's spot (I also tweeted that erroneous line-up to 130 people. That's what I get for listening to ESPN).
Anyway, it was clear from the first 15 minutes that Bayern is not the same club without Bastian. I don't think Alaba did terribly, it was more a question playing out of what's probably his best position, having to jump in on 3 days notice, and the club in general not having anyone to take control and marshal the attack. Also, none of our front 4 looked very impressive - it's understandable that it will take a few games to get used to the new midfield, but Gomez looked poor on several first touches. His first goal was really the result of bad defending on a Bayern corner, allowing van Buyten to head the ball on goal. Gomez was there to knock it in off his head from 3 feet out:
The quality on the first run through is poor, but you can see it clearly on the replay.
The interesting thing is that the commentator clearly though Bayern would break it open at that point - I think he even said something like "Gomez will be looking for another hat trick today!" - but we really went to sleep for a bit. Ribery's goal involved a decent fake move and left-footed finish, but he largely disappeared after that.
Manuel Neuer was the story of the second half, as Augsburg pulled one back but missed on several chances to pull even. It was about the 82d minute when they had their best chance, with substitute Kapllani unleashing a dangerous shot and Neuer saving our skins with a good save.
Although I was disappointed in the was Bayern played, I have to give credit to Augsburg - they didn't look out of their depth and look pretty aggressive. It didn't seem that they came into the match trying to just eat the clock - if they play every match like they did today, especially in the second half, they're a good bet to stay up in the 1. Bundesliga.
The important question now is whether Alaba can handle the CM role for the rest of the year. Although I understand he's young and needs more time, I personally don't think that's our best chance. I'd rather let Kroos get some minutes there, especially if Gustavo is going to be starting (which he will, at least for two games - Tymo picked up a straight red towards the end of the match). Jupp Heynckes might think that Kroos is too valuable up front to move, but he didn't look that way today.
Anyway, 3 points is still 3 points, and we're at the top of the table going into the international break. The next set of decisions will come once Robben is fit to make his return - that could set off a chain reaction that move Kroos, Alaba, or anyone else. We'll be back tomorrow to discuss those implications.