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Analysis: Nasty case of deja-vu in Stuttgart

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Analysis: Nasty case of deja-vu in Stuttgart

Postby FCBayernNews » Mon Nov 12, 2007 12:12 am


The pre-match sequence at the Gottlieb-Daimler stadium included re-runs of goals scored by VfB Stuttgart in recent home matches against Bayern, naturally including the double scored by Brazilian striker Cacau in the home team's 2-0 victory on 21 April this year. That result helped propel VfB to the most unlikely of league titles, but the defeat ensured Bayern would not be appearing in this term's Champions League and ushered in the club's biggest ever spending spree in the summer transfer market.

Perhaps this minor psychological trick contributed to an extraordinary and fully unexpected case of deja-vu for Bayern, as this season's radically overhauled team contrived to turn in a first-half display equally as grim as the lifeless showing back in the spring. The performance certainly reawakened some nightmare memories among club officials.

<b>Hitzfeld and Beckenbauer left fuming</b>

"The game was horribly reminiscent of last time," Ottmar Hitzfeld shuddered at the news conference after VfB's 3-1 win, Munich's first competitive defeat since a 2-1 reverse against Hamburg on 28 April. "We went behind to an early goal, my players weren't up for it mentally, and they allowed VfB to walk all over them in the first quarter of an hour. Stuttgart beat us hands down for aggression," the Bayern boss acknowledged. "Our display in the first half had nothing to do with football," club President Franz Beckenbauer fumed.

Captain Oliver Kahn was in no mood to pull punches. "We were lethargic in the first half, we didn’t go looking for the ball, and we didn’t win the ball. It's something I can't explain," the keeper puzzled. "We were very unfocused, not one of us had a good game," observed Philipp Lahm. The Germany international, back at his former stamping ground, was one of the few players prepared to take reporters' questions afterwards.

<b>Stuttgart profit from defensive howlers</b>

There were talking points aplenty after the match. Why did Bayern's previously rock-solid defence suddenly concede almost as many goals in one game as they had in twelve league fixtures beforehand? "We were badly organised at the back," Hitzfeld offered. German Player of the Year Mario Gomez' brace (10, 42) resulted from shoddy marking in the six-yard box, while Yildiray Bastürk had all the time in the world to take aim and blast home a 25-yarder on the half-hour. Stuttgart also won 57 percent of their tackles.

At the other end of the field, Toni Kroos became the youngest ever player to start a league match for the Reds, but provided one of very few rays of light on an otherwise dark day. "We never came near the attitude we needed for this match, so there was no way we were going to come away with anything," Kahn reflected. Lady Luck also turned her face away from the Bavarian cause: the match officials struck off a Luca Toni headed goal on 32 minutes for a foul in a thoroughly innocuous looking aerial challenge, and wrongly called Kroos offside three minutes later when the youngster had only keeper Rafael Schäfer to beat. "We had a promising spell and we were close to pulling one back. If we’d scored, I think we’d have gone on and taken something from the game," Hitzfeld argued.

<b>Set to bounce back against Wolfsburg</b>

Toni then failed to convert a gilt-edged chance straight after the restart, and Lucio's 70th-minute dismissal for retaliation finally extinguished the visitors' remaining hopes. "We were always going to lose at some point, but obviously none of us wanted it to be this way," a visibly angry Lahm raged. Added Christian Lell: "Stuttgart were a shade more aggressive in every area of the field."

Saturday's defeat will not produce as spectacular a reaction as the reverse in April. Bayern still lead the standings by a point from Werder Bremen and Hamburger SV. "Maybe it's better to have been turned over than to have lost unluckily. My players now realise they have to find another gear, that nothing can be taken for granted, and we still have a very long way to go," Hitzfeld concluded. The league action resumes in two weeks after a break for internationals, and the coach called on his men to bounce back in their next fixture against Wolfsburg. "I'm sure we've had two very instructive hours today,“ he said.
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