The Pep Episodes XVII
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It was a familiar feeling in Bremen for Bayern Munich. The Bavarians won 1-0 to set a new Bundesliga record of nine wins out of nine games, something no Bundesliga side has previously achieved in 52 years of the German top flight. But the narrow victory reminded them of a game half a year ago which was much more painful for the German Champions.
Bayern didn’t have any wingers left, a much needed weapon they also lacked against FC Barcelona back in May in the Champions League, when they were eliminated in the semifinal. Götze, Robben, Ribery, Costa and Coman didn’t play against Werder Bremen due to injuries, and again Bayern struggled to create enough chances, even if they had 80 percent possession. “We missed players who can go one on one,” said Captain Lahm, while sporting director Matthias Sammer remembered the games against Barça: “It hurt last season against Barcelona and it even hurts in the Bundesliga daily life.”
Pep Guardiola saw that his team struggled to create many opportunities, but it wasn’t a surprise for him, because Bremen played with a deep backline and parked the bus most of the time. “It wasn’t easy to find gaps, especially since we had no wingers. We controlled the match well, but you know it’ll be difficult towards the end if [the lead is] only 1-0,” Guardiola said afterwards.
“Bayern harassed Bremen with their terrorism of possession,” noted Süddeutsche Zeitung, but in the end the German Champions even needed a little help from goalkeeper Neuer to save the day.
The game wasn’t that entertaining, but thanks to Müller’s goal (“He is cold as ice,” as Lahm admitted) they got the win, even if their goal machine Lewandowski didn’t score this time – an unfamiliar situation nowadays. “Bremen were very defensive, with a back five in their own box. It’s not easy for strikers in that situation,” Lewandowski said. The Pole even got unlucky and lucky at the same time in one incident, when Bremen’s goalkeeper Wiedwald fouled him hard in the box. The referee didn’t award the penalty, though some say it was more than justified, but Lewandowski could consider himself lucky not to be severely injured in that situation. He only got some scratches from Wiedwald’s studs. “I think it was a clear penalty,” the striker said, adding that he’s fine and ready to play in the next game, against Arsenal.
A little more bad luck and Bayern would have missed not just their wingers but even their worldclass forward for the Champions League encounter at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday. “This time it was enough, but we need more in the long run,” Guardiola concluded with a look at the coming weeks and tougher opponents. Arsenal could be the first one.
The Pep Episodes is a weekly column about the adventures of Pep Guardiola in Munich exclusively written for Grup14 by Alex Truica, a freelance sports journalist and editor. You can follow him on Twitter.