As the title indicates - this post is NOT a forum for bashing Bayern players, coaches, or managers with ugly language. I'm proud to be a Bayern supporter and had a lot of fun following the club this year. However, after no trophies for two years on the bounce, I do think it could be somewhat therapeutic to let loyal supporters point out some of the obstacles that our team just can't seem to consistently overcome.
None of this is a claim that I could do better. A lot of us watch every game, though, and can't help but notice patterns. Here are some of our areas of failure, to put it bluntly, in no particular order:
(1) We Can't Break Down Opponents Who Play an All-Defensive Style
This is as much a function of the game of football as it is a specific problem for our club. But as a team that has a ton of fire-power and often dominates possession, we're going to face teams that sit back and keep 8 or 9 guys deep in their own territory (and even the forwards on the defensive side of the pitch). There's no point in complaining about it, because I don't see how the game's authorities can "make" anyone come out and fight us in the open field.
One of the common approaches to dealing with a parked bus is to get your FBs more involved in the offense. And the problem did get a little better in the last 2 months with Alaba on the left and Lahm on the right. But I wonder whether the manager - Heycnkes or anyone else - might consider something more drastic. Going to 3-2-3-2 to overwhelm the defense with numbers? If we need 2 strikers, does Gomez plus Mueller work? If not, who sits?
(2) Defending Set Pieces
We're pretty poor at it, if I'm being honest. We lost a match to Mainz on a poorly-defended corner, we let in some other big goal from a free-kick in a match that I can't remember now, and yesterday we let Drogba kill us with that header. After that, I honestly never really felt confident.
This is coming from a team that has several big, strong, tall guys (Gomez, van Buyten, Boateng, Neuer, Badstuber) and is supposedly a very disciplined side. Of course, anyone's going to let in one on the rare occasion, but we should be clearing corners and free kicks with little difficulty the large majority of the time.
(3) Scoring on our own set pieces
Without looking up the numbers, I'm inclined to say our rates of scoring on set pieces are not as poor, relative to other clubs, as our rates of allowing them (as described above). And we did have a goal from a corner against Real Madrid. But we should still be doing better here. What did we have, 16 corners yesterday? Not only did we not score, most of them were totally harmless, and I think one even led to a chance for a Chelsea break. And for the way our forwards fight over taking the free-kicks, I don't think any of them are considered especially scary to other defenses and 'keepers from outside of 21 yards on a free kick.
Just kick the damn ball, Mario!! It's right there!! KICK IT!!
Sorry, sorry, I forgot the ground rules for a second there. Gomez blew a few chances, Robben had a pair that he blasted at least 20 feet over the goal, and even Mueller had one that he sliced off the side of his foot (though obviously, he's forgiven). This was a problem throughout the season, too - matches in which we controlled possession and created 3 or 4 good chances at the goal (if not 5 or more), failed to score, and ended up losing. Without looking them all up, the first Bundi match of the year vs. 'Gladbach, the January loss to Leverkusen, the first-leg CL loss to Basel, and yesterday all fit that description. You still want the defense to remain stout, but if the defense holds the other side scoreless for 70 minutes or more and gives the offense a chance to control possession and tee off on the other side's goal, you kind of feel like they've done their job. We should be up multiple goals by that point.
By the way, that January loss to Leverskusen stands out, even more than some others this season. Neuer ended up allowing 2 goals, but possibly had his best match for Bayern, as he made at least 3 beastly reaction saves. Meanwhile, our offense missed a ton of good chances and let B04 hang around. We ended up losing to 2 late goals, Dortmund won the same day on a late Kagawa winner to take a 7-point edge in the league race, and they never looked back.
I don't know what the answer is. Honestly, people around the football world really love Gomez. Are they just looking at the numbers? My sister, who watched the game with me yesterday but is not a normal viewer, thought that there was some rule that made him ineligible there to just kick the ball straight into the net. And even if we replace Gomez, you know that Robben, Mueller, Kroos, and Schweinsteiger have all looked nervous in front of the goal (well, actually, Kroos just routinely shoots the ball exactly 8 inches too high, but looks perfectly confident doing it). I'm sure the trainers are open to suggestions.
I'm open to suggestions, too. Without personal attacks or criticisms that would offend a player's family, what are some other obstacles that you think Bayern needs to overcome? We caught some bad luck, but when you're blaming luck for a vital loss 4 or more times in a season, there's more to it than that. And what are some possible solutions? If a player, manager, or front office guy came out right before next season and said "no matter what it takes, we're going to do better on ____," what would you like ____ to be?