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Bayern strikers feel the pressure

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Bayern strikers feel the pressure

Postby FCBayernNews » Thu Oct 05, 2006 12:00 am


There was one paramount focus during training of Wednesday – finishing. In a seven-a-side game, both teams were set the task of creating as many chances as possible and putting the away. To focus it even more, the pitch was shortened to about 35 metres. The result was goalscoring opportunities that flowed at a rate of one a minute.

The bare figures of just seven goals in six Bundesliga games makes it clear where Bayern’s problems are greatest at the moment – in attack. “We are finding it harder than last season against teams who simply hang back and defend,” is the verdict of head coach Felix Magath on the first few weeks of the season.

<B>Ballack’s headers leave a void</B>

The most recent example was last Saturday’s match against Wolfsburg. Despite completely dominating the game and at times enjoying more than 70 per cent of possession, the champions finished up losing 1-0 to a team that hitherto were bottom of the table and without a victory. “We had loads of possession, but we couldn’t convert it into goals,” Magath adds. “That’s something we have to work on.”

The Bayern coach noted that the team went through poor matches last season, “except that we won anyway”. Often it was Michael Ballack who popped up with the vital goals that stole the points. Says Magath: “What we are missing is the Ballack header from a [Willy] Sagnol cross.” Now his team has to adapt its style to a Bayern midfield in which there is no Ballack. “We have not yet fully developed our attacking play, we haven’t found our rhythm.”

<B>Van Bommel makes himself at home</B>

The Bayern coach needs his four strikers, Roy Makaay, Claudio Pizarro, Lukas Podolski and Roque Santa Cruz, to shoulder their share of the goalscoring burden. “Our strikers have not been able to make the difference,” he says. Of Bayern’s seven league goals, the forwards have contributed just three.

Ballack’s designated successor, Mark van Bommel, has already found the net twice, and Magath plays tribute to the seamless way in which the last-minute arrival from Barcelona has slotted into the team. “He has been at the heart of things right from the start and has performed most impressively in his first few weeks. He seeks out and shoulders responsibility, something that will be of great benefit to us,” adds Magath, who says Van Bommel’s ideal position is on the right side of midfield.

<B>Mark and Roy bond on the training field</B>

“My understanding with him is already very good,” says Makaay of his compatriot. “We forwards are set to benefit greatly from his presence.” The understanding between the two players is already evident on the training field. The last goal of the session came from a Makaay flying header as he got onto the end of an inch-perfect Van Bommel cross. Looking on, Magath clapped his hands in satisfaction.

<i>Reporting for <b></b>: Dirk Hauser</i>
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