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FC Bayern vs. Nürnberg | Recap

Several key substitutions, moments of brilliance steer Bayern towards a (2-0) derby victory over 1.FC Nürnberg.

Arjen Robben and Javier Pinola battle for possession in Bayern's (2-0) victory at the Allianz Arena.
Arjen Robben and Javier Pinola battle for possession in Bayern's (2-0) victory at the Allianz Arena.
Lennart Preiss

Pep Guardiola began today's match with Götze and Thiago as opposed to the Müller-Kroos pairing he had used to begin the season, and the change was apparent in how the team played the first 60 minutes of the match.

Bayern tried desperately to cling to their strategy of short passes up and down the field but were left frustrated and looking for a goal. Not to say opportunities didn't present themselves, but most of the half was spent searching for an opening in the Nürnberg defense, who had everyone behind the ball for a majority of the time.

A quarter of an hour in, Daniel Ginczek sent a missile of a shot at Neuer who had only enough time to parry the ball upwards, where it then struck the crossbar but didn't threaten the goal any further.

Bayern's best chance of the half would come 18 minutes minutes later when the Reds were awarded a suspicious penalty.

Robben and Per Nilsson became entangled near the endline and Robben went down, clearly swatting the ball as he completed his tumble. When the whistle blew, the referee (Christian Dingert) was out of frame and many assumed that the call was simply handball on Arjen Robben, but when the camera panned back across the field he was pointing to the penalty spot.

Alaba didn't pass up his chance to take the penalty shot, but couldn't convert the opportunity as Schäfer guessed correctly and even managed to keep the shot in his hands without giving up a second chance to the attackers crashing the box. 

Shortly before the halftime whistle, Berkay Dabanli limped off with an injury after Mario Mandzukic stomped on his knee when the two were contesting a ball. Mandzukic walked away from the incident with a yellow card, while Dabanli walked off the pitch assisted by the Nürnberg medical staff.

The first minutes of the second half saw much of the same stagnant midfield play with Nürnberg not going out of their way to start an attack. During this time Bayern racked up possession statistics hovering around 80% because FCN were content to sit back and allow the Triple winners to make these short, unambitious passes.

On the hour mark, however, Bayern began to play more directly. Robben and Ribery displayed individual superiority with runs down the flanks and Lahm involved himself more in the attack as FCB now looked towards crosses and specifically, Mario Mandzukic was the target of most of them.

Finally, in the 69th minute a well-worked move saw Philipp Lahm send in a cross from the right towards Mandzukic and Ribery. The Nürnberg defense appeared to shift over towards the Croatian, but the pass sailed over him and directly at Franck Ribery, who buried his header to put Bayern ahead. This was on the same play which saw Bayern's frustration reach a peak when a pass across the face of goal wasn't stabbed home.

More possession and fluid play followed as Thiago and Götze had both been replaced at this point by the more familiar faces of Müller and Kroos.

Twelve minutes from time, Arjen Robben sealed the match with a goal very similar to the one he scored in Munich against Barcelona. From a difficult angle, he poked a right-footed shot around Schäfer and it went in off the post.

Conclusively, Bayern changed their attacking mindset once Müller and Kroos entered the pitch if not slightly before, and it begs the question of whether or not this team is either ready or best suited for the passing game that Guardiola seems to be trying so hard to install over his first weeks as Bayern manager.

For now, though, Bayern remain perfect through three matches as they enter a tough stretch with a trip to Freiburg on Tuesday before playing Chelsea in the SuperCup on Friday.

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