Given the number of hard fouls committed against Bayern Munich’s players in the first two matches of the season, it’s safe to say that it’s a part of the opposition’s game plan to throw Bayern off of their game. It has not gone unnoticed: after Bayern’s win in Stuttgart, sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic vented his frustration at the lack of protection the referees provided his players, adding his criticism to the complaints of Uli Hoeness and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge earlier this week (via Sport1):
You can see how hard people are playing against us. That’s not good. The referees have to crack down on it better. It’s important. Sometimes, there are things that are too hard and not ok, that happen without regard for the health of our players. That’s why we have to be careful this year. It’s not acceptable. It has to be cracked down on harder.
Bayern’s 3-0 win over the Swabians at the Mercedes-Benz Arena was as chippy as the Hoffenheim clash, as Stuttgart committed a number of aggressive fouls inside the first half. Most notably, a challenge on Franck Ribery by Stuttgart’s Pablo Maffeo forced the Frenchmen to be briefly treated on the sidelines.
Niko Kovac and Salihamidzic were visibly frustrated as the nasty fouls on Bayern piled up. Kovac, in particular, gave the fourth official an earful after Maffeo’s un-called challenge on Ribery. Salihamidzic considered Ribery lucky to have escaped significant injury:
He was lucky. If his foot was on the ground, then it’s a different story.
This is already the second time in four competitive matches that Salihamidzic has personally complained about dirty fouls against his side. He already voiced his concern after Bayern’s 5-0 Supercup win over Eintracht Frankfurt that left Robert Lewandowski with a swollen, cut chin. “Frankfurt’s playing style was not acceptable. You can’t do something like that,” he said at the time.
- Lewandowski and Abraham exchange a few words... (Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images)
- Ante Rebic had a few words for Lewandowski... (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)
- The scuffle escalated quickly. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)
- The ref is in the middle of the pack somewhere in there trying to keep things [somewhat] civil... (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)
- This picture just about sums it up... (Photo by Adam Pretty/Bongarts/Getty Images)
- Lewandowski and Abraham going at it as their teammates try to mediate... (Photo by Adam Pretty/Bongarts/Getty Images)
- Abraham gives Lewandowski an elbow to the chin. (Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images)
- Abraham tries to act as if nothing happened...yeah, right. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Bongarts/Getty Images)
- Lewandowski with a swollen chin... (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Ribery might have been lucky, but his compatriot Kingsley Coman was forced off last week against Hoffenheim with an ankle injury that required an operation after a nasty challenge from Nico Schulz. That particular challenge was just one of many during the match that very well could have resulted in more injuries than that suffered by Coman.