Another 'workmanlike' win, and reserves' grumbles begin

Posted by Susie Schaaf

The 92nd edition of the Suedderby lived up to its reputation of a physical affair Sunday as Bayern Munich won 2-0 at Stuttgart. Just one minute in, referee Florian Meyer was already cautioning William Kvist for a challenge on Bastian Schweinsteiger. In a match which saw 45 fouls in total (28/17), Toni Kroos would see yellow for Munich, as did Stuttgart's Antonio Ruediger and the aforementioned Kvist. Martin Harnik, easily VfB's best player, left in the 80th minute after his second card of the evening.

But perhaps the more interesting context from Bayern Munich is the beginnings of the grumblings from the bench. After a largely ineffectual first half from Kroos and Mario Mandzukic, the start of the second half saw Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben warming up. Jupp Heynckes was perhaps waiting until the 75th minute to include the now-healthy duo.

But Mandzukic finally opened the scoring for Bayern in the 50th minute, and Thomas Mueller doubled the lead in the 72nd, leading Heynckes to change his game plan, playing out the remainder of the match in posessive, keep-away defense. Gomez finally got an inclusion in the 88th minute, subbing for his namesake, but the coach picked Xherdan Shaqiri over Robben to replace Franck Ribery. Arjen could be seen pouting on the sidelines.

Much was made at the beginning of the season of a rotating Bayern squad that would keep all the superstars happy. But, injuries to key players have forced Heynckes in to a Startelf. Don't get me wrong, it's definitely one that works, but how does one keep Robben and Gomez on the bench week-in-week-out without upsetting the egos of two very talented players?

Instead of everyone getting a chance, Heynckes' philosophy has moved to "Don't change a wininng team." But this winning team has turned in two less-than-stellar performances in a row. "Workmanlike", most have said. It did, after all, take Bayern 50 minutes to get on the scoreboard against Stuttgart, and that was a gifted goal from a horrible back-pass by VfB defender Cristian Molinaro.

Sporting director Matthia Sammer would tell Sky about the Robben's grumblings: "I don't want to hear anything, nothing at all. We don't want egotisms to bring new debates. . . . The momentum currently speaks against him." Karl-Heinz Rummenigge added: "I expect that the players step on the gas and accept what is decided by the coach."

While Bayern opened up an 11-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga table after Bayer Leverkusen drew away to Freiburg, Borussia Dortmund have been clawing their way up the table in style the latest Friday's 3-0 drubbing of Nurnberg.

Perhaps the second-half inclusion of Gomez and Robben Sunday wouldn't have changed anything at all. But we'll never know the answer until they're on the pitch.

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