"Will the real Bayern München please stand up?" wrote Clark Whitney the previous year in one of his articles. The real Bayern München has stood up in the most emphatic of ways in the face of adversity. They have wiped away the competition in style. They have brought tears of joy to the face of the supporters who cried their hearts out in frustration the previous year.
The ghosts of the Champions League final, Bundesliga and Dortmund have been exorcized. The ghost of Berlin is next in line. On this very ground, Bayern was shredded to pieces in the Pokal finale in the most horrible of ways imaginable. They have eliminated Dortmund already in the quarters. They took apart Wolfsburg in the semi final and will now look to do away with one of their most common cup rivals in the final.
Cup Rivalry and Roads to the Final
Indeed Bayern and Stuttgart met in the Cup in 2009, 2010 and 2012. They will renew their rivalry this year. On each of those three occasions, Bayern was victorious. The road to the final was a harder one for Bayern in terms of the opponents presented to them than Stuttgart. Nonetheless, Stuttgart has played well throughout the cup campaign. They have managed to eek out some narrow wins when necessary. Their most emphatic victory came in the first round when they beat Falkensee (don't you just love that name!) by five goals.
St. Pauli presented a tougher challenge in the next round but the Swabians came through by three clear goals. Two narrow wins in two tough matches against Köln and Bochum presented them a semifinal berth against SC Freiburg. This was definitely a challenge as Freiburg had put three past Stuttgart in their first league meeting in the season. Stuttgart came through, 2-1.
Bayern on the other hand took on Jahn Regensburg in a Bavarian derby and won 4-0. The next round saw them play Kaiserslautern; they came through smoothly, 4-0. Yet another Bavarian derby came in the third round in arguably Bayern's toughest match of the Pokal season. They were up by a goal when Franck Ribery's famous temper let loose. They were down to ten men early in the second half and Augsburg was applying the pressure. A late Xherdan Shaqiri goal settled matters.
An Arjen Robben wonder strike saw Dortmund off rather easily in the quarters. The semis against Wolfsburg was challenging for a moment when Diego scored a wonderful goal to cut the score to 2-1. All doubt was removed in the second half as Bayern cruised to a 6-1 victory, with a late hat trick from the much maligned Mario Gomez. I wonder whether any of you noticed but Bayern did not concede a single goal up until that Diego strike in the cup. That is a marvelous achievement!
Meetings this Season and Tactics
The Bavarians took on the Swabians twice this campaign. The first match saw Stuttgart take the lead through Martin Harnik only for Bayern to hit six in a span of twenty five crazy minutes before and after half time. The second meeting was rather cagey. Bruno Labbadia came up with the perfect game plan to suffocate his old team. Unfortunately, a rather sad back pass saw Mario Mandzukic score. Bayern added a second to finish off Stuttgart in a game where the end result might have been much different had that moment of madness not occurred.
Labbadia will surely employ much of the same tactics; he has done extremely well to keep the team working despite the austerity measures imposed on him by the hierarchy at Stuttgart. Stuttgart is a proud club at the end of the day. They have had to battle against the ignominy of a relegation battle. Much has been made about Bremen and Hoffenheim's battles but little has been said about Stuttgart's battles. Freiburg was also the talk of the town for a while but Stuttgart managed to beat them en route to the final.
Holger Badstuber and Toni Kroos are out of this one for Bayern. Dante and Luiz Gustavo have been dragged, kicking and screaming, to Brazil away from Bayern. Karl Heinz Rummenigge is rightfully extremely unhappy about this. Mamadou Bah, Daniel Didavi, Tamas Hajnal, Felipe and reserve keeper Marc Ziegler are out for the Swabians.
This will probably be the starting lineup for Bayern:
Bastian Schweinsteiger- Javier Martinez
Arjen Robben- Thomas Müller- Franck Ribery
Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready to cheer on Bayern to a quadruple?
Super Bayern Super Bayern Hey Hey Hey!
As always, thanks for reading!