Bayern Munich and Eintracht Braunschweig are both historical Bundesliga clubs, and yet there is a major chunk nonexistent shared history. Braunschweig returned to the Bundesliga for the first time in 29 years, and this will be the first time these two teams will face each other in consecutive seasons in 30 years.
Braunschweig have moved in and out of the promotion race like a hokey pokey dancer, but their triumph in the cup is one to be commended for. This is the first time the club has reached the Achtelfinale in 11 years, although the competition they have matched up against is not close to their cup run in 2003/04. They dispatched Bremer SV and Würzburger Kickers with narrow 1-0 victories, and the goal scorer in both of those matches, Håvard Nielsen, is still recovering from an injury.
The Löwen are currently on a rotten run of form, losing three of their for matches of the Rückrunde. Can the Löwen roar past Bayern to their first victory in 2015? Here is a look in to what Eintracht Braunschweig is all about.
Eintracht Braunschweig is a side unafraid to come right at you. They tend to resemble more of a group of individuals rather than a complete unite, but there are occasional periods of cohesion where they operate in unison. They are very productive with the ball even though they are not normally the ones that have it. The club is a tick below the 2. Bundesliga sides currently fighting for promotion, but they are certainly have the capability of punching above their weight.
Looking at their performance on the surface, Braunschweig's defense is right where it needs to be for a 2. Bundesliga side: right in the middle of the pack. The midfield does not guard the back as well as other teams, which causes the defense to get overwhelmed with pressure. Center backs Ken Reichel and Marcel Correia are decent at closing down the ball, but neither recover well or command the box. Lieberknecht has changed things up in the middle of defense, but he has stuck with the same personnel for the most part. With Bayern at the other end of the pitch, the area to defend will be smaller, but the shiftiness from the defending champions could easily undo them.
Much of Braunschweig's build-up is through individual play, not the best blueprint for keeping the ball. Their flank presence is strong, especially now with the addition of Nik Omladić, and Lieberknecht can use both Hendrick Zuck and Raffael Korte to stretch the play. Of all the burdens Lieberknecht places on the shoulders of Mirko Boland and Damir Vrančić, creativity does not appear to be one of them. The two will undoubtedly have to sit deeper than they normally do against Bayern, and whether they can escape through pressing forwards will determine if they can muster a goal at all.
As with any setup that puts two at the top, supply from the midfield can be hard to come by, particularly with a team that cannot keep the ball. Ryu Seung-Woo and Håvard Nielsen were a great partnership this season, but the attacking momentum they had vanished when Nielsen got injured. Flank service has provided a lot of goal scoring opportunities, although Dennis Kruppke is not the finisher Nielsen is. Korte and Zuck will also have to overcome the class of Rafinha and Juan Bernat in order to continue that success.
Mirko Boland – Top class is a relative term when it comes to a Bundesliga side, and this designation should belong to Håvard Nielsen. In Nielsen's absence, Boland is the next key player Lieberknecht has. He does get antsy in midfield, but he is the one largely responsible for starting the play, and holds up decently well tracking back for a player designed to be an attacking midfielder. His individual skill is high enough to unhinge players above his pay grade, an important attribute when taking on the best club in Germany.
Benjamin Kessel – His goal tally could cause someone to ooh and ah, but he is far from the best fullback in the second tier. He is an undisciplined tackler, and while his positioning is above average, he does not recover well when he is beaten. Lieberknecht has used him as a center back the last two matches, but no matter where he plays, he is going to have a tough time handling Bayern's pressure.
Ryu Seung-Woo – on loan from Bayer Leverkusen, Ryu provides ingenuity and dynamism in the attacking third, something Braunschweig does not have a lot of. Lieberknecht gives him a free role, allowing him to give the attack more ideas going forward. He is not the best finisher in the world, but his positional acumen could help him slide one in the back of the net.
How Braunschweig beats Bayern
There should be no question Braunschweig needs a lot of things to fall their way in order to have any chance in this match. Boland and Ryu will need to have top-class performances, for the task of Braunschweig's progression into the Bayern half of the field will rest on them. The Braunschweig defense certainly has the capability of boarding up the penalty area, and a victory could hinge on the ability at the back to close down and cut off the strong attacking lifelines.
How Bayern beats Braunschweig
Simple class could be sufficient to dispose their adversaries from the west, but The for Bayern way to bust Braunschweig's bunker will be to get them to become reckless, an aspect of Braunschweig's game that is not difficult to provoke. It may take a half an hour for the defending cup champions to get in behind, but once they do Braunschweig will have a tough time recovering.