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Bayern Munich earn 2-0 win over disciplined Stuttgart

An early goal from Mario Götze and a late goal from Franck Ribery earned three points for Bayern Munich against VfB Stuttgart

Alex Grimm

With a side decimated by injures to some of their best players, Bayern Munich's match against Stuttgart was always going to be a little harder than they would have liked. However, they came up against a very disciplined and tactically astute Armin Veh side who stifled Bayern Munich from the run of play for most of the evening.

Pep Guardiola deployed his side in a 3-3-3-1 against Armin Veh's more conventional 4-2-3-1, and Bayern Munich came out of the gate firing away at the visitors. They were hammering away at the Stuttgart defense which, after last season's abysmal performance, was disciplined for most of the evening, content to absorb pressure when deep and high press when Bayern Munich's 3-man backline had the ball. Their game plan was to hit Bayern on the counterattack, which was only successful in the fact that they got the ball downfield sometimes before they then fired wide. They finished the evening with zero shots on target in a woeful display of finishing.

For much of the first 25+ minutes, Bayern was searching for that all elusive first goal. Thomas Müller pounded home several headers including a absolute thunderbolt that forced Sven Ulreich into a brilliant save. However, it was in the 27th minute that Bayern Munich finally broke through. But, it wasn't birthday boy Thomas Müller who did the scoring.

After a Xabi Alonso set piece was thrust into the box, a poor header under pressure from Lewandowksi saw the ball fall to the feet of Mario Götze near the edge of the box. The young German took a quick touch, juked his defender and then fired far post, through traffic rather then choosing to try and beat Ulreich near post. It was an audacious decision, and it spoke to the chemistry that exists between Robert Lewandowski and Götze as the Polish striker positioned himself over the ball to allow it clean passage into the net. Just like that, Bayern Munich were up 1-0 and that was enough to see them through to the win in this game.

However, it was the 42nd minute that drew most of the attention, as Holger Badstuber crumpled under zero contact while playing a rather routine pass. He was subsequently withdrawn from game. Given that he's had multiple ACL surgeries in the past two years, the immediate visceral reaction from every Bayern Munich fan bordered somewhere between worry and chronic uncontrollable sobbing and rocking. He eventually motored off the pitch under his own power and was subsequently diagnosed with a thigh injury.

Badstuber's replacement on the pitch was Gianluca Gaudino who slotted into midfield while Xabi Alonso moved into the backline alongside Dante and Jerome Boateng. It was a curious decision from Guardiola given he had Mehdi Benatia available on the bench, but it's most likely that the Moroccan international is still struggling with squad familiarity and fitness.

The second half proceeded much as the first. Whenever Stuttgart earned the ball back, they attacked with numbers in width trying to exploit the narrowness of the Bayern Munich formation. However, with so many men wide, their crosses and drives into the box were often solo with little to no support. They were easily snuffed out by the numbers deployed centrally in defense by Guardiola. In this match, unlike in games past, the midfield defense showed a willingness to recover at pace that went a long way toward denying midfield runners from Stuttgart anything approaching a solid opportunity to shoot.

Franck Ribery entered the match in the 68th minute to thunderous applause from the Bayern supporters, replacing Mario Götze. It was his first competitive appearance for Bayern Munich since last May's DFB Pokal, and he came out a man on fire. He gave Stuttgart leftback Florian Klein fits for the final 35 minutes and was an integral piece in the Bayern attack as it shifted into being quite a bit more direct. He subsequently awarded those cheers from the supporters in the 85th minute when a midfield turnover saw David Alaba hit Robert Lewandowski streaking down the right, and the counterattack was on. Thomas Müller, realizing Ribery was behind him, made a near post run, drawing all of the Stuttgart defenders out of position. This gave Ribery a free and clear path to goal. Lewandowski hit him in stride as the Frenchmen two touched and slotted under Ulreich to give Bayern Munich the 2-0 lead.

Late in stoppage time, Ribery was denied a second goal as he broke free and chipped Sven Ulreich only to see his effort saved on the line by Antonio Rüdiger as almost the last action of the match.

Overall, it was a convincing win for Bayern Munich as they showed they have exactly what it takes to break down compact structure defenses. With their two goals today coming off a set piece and a counterattack, it's apparent that this is a team getting slowly morphing back into using the total comprehensive attack that they were so effective at this time last year. While 2-0 was unflattering for Stuttgart, this was not an easy match for Bayern Munich as the visitors had a well designed gameplan, and they executed it well during the normal run of play. However, they had the quality and wherewithal to earn their win, which is an encouraging sign heading into Wednesday's clash with Manchester City.

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