Bayern squeaks past Frankfurt

Posted by Susie Schaaf

Coaching legend Sir Alex Ferguson coined the phrase "squeaky bum time" for the sound made by people squirming around in plastic seats inside a stadium. It would be nearly 90 minutes of "squeaky bum time" for Bayern Munich as they very uncomfortably overcame Frankfurt 1-0 at the Commerzbank Arena Saturday afternoon.

A lone volley from Mario Mandzukic made difference here, and it was one of the only bright spots in a somewhat ponderous 90 minutes, when Bayern couldn't really do anything quite right.

- Report: Mandzukic earns points

Fitness issues and a new formation left Munich particularly vulnerable at the back. While Bayern retained the ball nearly 70 per cent of the match, Frankfurt ended up with one more corner (6/5).

With Luiz Gustavo (sadly) sold to Wolfsburg -- but, what a display he had for die Woelfe on Saturday -- and Javi Martinez not even making the trip to Frankfurt, Pep Guardiola found himself a little thin at the single pivot position. Not the right time for Bastian Schweinsteiger to have a less-than-perfect match.

Guardiola would say post-game: "It's never easy after the international break. We only had three days of rest. Nevertheless, we created a lot of opportunities."

And while I wholeheartedly agree that these midweek friendlies are the absolute worst on the international schedule, and yes, Bayern Munich created 15 attempts (seven on goal), the team performance leaves much to be desired.

But Bayern got three points.

Arjen Robben started on the bench to make way for Xherdan Shaqiri, but the rest of Bayern's Startelf remained intact from last week's opening win over Borussia Monchengladbach, while Armin Veh made a few changes to his side that was humiliated by Berlin last week.

Takashi Inui got close to opening the account for Frankfurt after only four minutes, but his effort was saved by Manuel Neuer. At the other end, Toni Kroos struck the post from a header 12 yards out before Bayern got their difference-maker minutes later. Xherdan Shaqiri initiated the attack, leaving out to Thomas Mueller. The German chipped the ball into the box for Mario Mandzukic, who turned and volleyed past 'keeper Kevin Trapp.

The play that followed was all Bayern Munich as Trapp's fine performance saved Franck Ribery's shot from distance and what looked to be a certain goal from Dante. But, Frankfurt would come strong to close out the first half, and they were unlucky not to have equalized after Alexander Meier was called marginally offside. (And while I'd normally say, "Bayern doesn't need the calls", I think I'll change my mind, for now.)

Both sides opened the second half with their same starting XI's, but questions in Bayern's center midfield would have Guardiola send Thiago Alcantara on for Shaqiri, Robben on for Mueller, and eventually Rafinha on for Toni Kroos. Mario Goetze -- hoping to make his Bundesliga debut -- spent nearly 20 minutes warming up, but wasn't included.

With Bayern's energy waning, Armin Veh -- he of the unbuttoned shirt -- sent on Jan Rosenthal for possible future Bayern defender Sebastian Rode in an attempt for more offense. And while Robben would make an immediate impact, getting down the line to pass to Schweinsteiger who got a rip at Trapp, a frail Bayern defense forced Neuer into a save from sub Stefano Celozzi, and a kick out that would have been a certain goal.

Robben absolutely crushed a ball at Trapp that could only be bundled before collected, and Schweinsteiger found himself in a one-on-one situation with the Frankfurt 'keeper before Neuer found himself pulling, well, a "Neuer". The Bayern shot-stopper found himself way out of the box, forced to head out of danger, and taken down by Srdan Lakic. Lakic collected the ball and shot at an open net, only to be denied by Dante.

While Bayern has now recorded 27 Bundesliga matches in a row without defeat, questions still remain. From the utter domination of last season to "squeaky bum time" every time this new incarnation takes the pitch, it's suddenly become very uncomfortable to be a Bayern Munich supporter this season.


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