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Preview: FC Bayern vs. Spielvereinigung Greuther Fürth

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In the opening match of the 2012-2013 1. Bundesliga season. Bayern has played one competitive match (a decisive win in the Pokal against Jahn Regensburg) and one semi-competitive match (a mostly convincing win over Dortmund in the DFP Pokal). There are injury issues, there are questions about possible roster additions, and the line-up is not 100 percent certain, but the boys sound eager to go. Our preview below ...

The Line-Up

Gomez and Alaba are starters that are definitely out, and Contento, Rafinha and van Buyten are back-ups in the same boat. van Buyten strained his calf last week, and said he was fine and it would be no big deal. But the official site lists him along with the rest if the injured list. Meanwhile, Ribery picked up a slight knock in training, though he will probably play.

On the back line, our newfound depth is already being asked to pay dividends. I don't know why, but I have a hunch we'll get some Dante action. Up top, Mandzukic has looked great filling in for Gomez, and Pizarro will be ready to come in with a change of pace if needed.

Here's my hunch:

Mandzukic

Shaqiri - Müller - Robben

Gustavo - Kroos

Boateng - Badstuber - Dante - Lahm

Neuer

I don't think Ribery is badly hurt to need to sit, but Shaqiri has been playing great and that ^ front 4 looks pretty deadly. Boateng at LB is more of a hunch / hopeful guess - he looked good there at World Cup 2010, and I'd rather he move over there than Lahm.

Anyway, the midfield and wings are the important part, because if we control the ball and create some good chances, Fürth probably won't be threatening our goal too much.

The Opponent

Fürth was the story of the 2. Bundesliga last year, winning the division outright and also going on a memorable Pokal run. The one match I definitely remember watching was the Pokal semi-final vs. Dortmund, where Fürth lost to a goal that rattled in off the post just before the match was to go to kicks. From that match, I think I remember that Fürth played a traditional 4-4-2, but with the wings pulled back pretty far. In other words, it wasn't the type of 4-4-2 Bayern was playing 3 years ago, with the wings pressing up, but rather a true 4-men-across-the-midfield look.

Of course, there's no guarantee that they'll look anything like that tomorrow, especially because Fürth has made several changes over the summer. Gone are Jasmin Fejzic, the GK whose body the winning Dortmund goal bounced off during that Pokal match, and Olivier Occean, the Canadian journeyman who was shipped off to Eintracht Frankfurt. In are Zoltan Stieber, the Hungarian wing who played youth ball in England, and Tobias Mikkelsen, a guy who's played a few matches for the Danish national side (I think he even may have been on their Euro squad).

SpVgg are certainly not a 10-men-behind-the-ball defensive side, especially with this being their opening 1. Bundesliga match at home. But with Bayern's fire-power, they certainly will be looking to take the air out of the ball. If they go with that 4-man, deep-lying midfield, our CDMs (Kroos and Goose? Goose and Bastian?) will be looking to keep the ball moving side-to-side, and our wings will need to make vertical runs and make themselves into good targets. Mandzu is a good guy to have here, because he has a nice motor and can come back to help when needed.

In their recent Pokal loss vs. OFC Kickers, SpVgg went with two strikers: Christopher Noethe and Gerald Asamoah. I don't know much about either of these two, but if they start scoring on us, it's back to the drawing board for the defense.

Final Notes:

- The match will be broadcast live on Gol! TV from Fürth's Trolli Arena. Apparently it's kind of rickety, but I can't tell if it's rickety in a cute, charming way, or rickety in a dilapidated way. Better believe their fans will be up for it, though.

- Looks like a good chance of thunderstorms on Saturday, too. So if their field isn't in shape, we'll find out in a hurry.

- Current rumors have Manchester City interested in Javi. They don't appear to have any better details from what I reported a few days ago though. As always, if anything concrete happens, we'll be here with the report. Thanks for reading.