Wednesday, 2 October 2013

In the Spotlight: FC Bayern Munich

No. 7: Previous meetings, Pep Guardiola and Franck Ribéry

By Aaron Leggott

Our first Champions League game at the Etihad Stadium this season sees the Blues pit their wits against the current holders, Bayern Munich. We caught up with Enis Köylü (@eniskoylu) a German and Turkish football expert who works as a sub editor and site manager for Goal. 

Photo: Official Bayern München Facebook

After the two sides were drawn with each other in 2011/12's CL group stages, it is fair to say City gave a decent account of themselves in the games against Bayern. How have Pep Guardiola's side changed since those meetings two years ago?

Enis: There are two main differences between the current Bayern team and the one who played City two years ago. The first is in terms of personnel - that year, when they travelled to the Etihad with a shadow team, they had no depth, but they've added bodies in every position since then. They genuinely have one of the best squads in the competition. 

Secondly, Bayern have far greater self-belief these days. Last season was really a watershed for them and they've lost just twice in 2013, and there's no shame in losing to Borussia Dortmund and the game against Arsenal was a dead rubber. They'll be confident against any team in the world.

How pleased do you think Bayern were to be drawn alongside CSKA Moscow, Plzeň and City?

Enis: I think Bayern would be confident with any group, to be honest. Last year's 7-0 humbling for Barcelona over two legs really showed just how good they were and they'll be confident of taking 12 points from CSKA and Viktoria and at least three from City. They know that it'll be tough at the Etihad, but when you can win 3-0 at Camp Nou, you can do it anywhere.

Could you give our readers a lowdown on how the current German champions are doing this season in the Bundesliga?

Enis: Bayern have been fairly good in the Bundesliga. Pep has tweaked the formation somewhat and they have a few injuries, so they haven't exactly been firing on all cylinders quite yet, but they showed just how good they can be against Schalke, whom they beat 4-0 away from home. They're level with Dortmund at the top, but Dortmund have been slightly more impressive going forward.  

Who do you see as Bayern's key man on Wednesday and why?

Enis: The key man for Bayern over the last couple of years is Franck Ribéry and right now, he is in the form of his life. When teams sit back against them in Germany, it's his pace which finds a way through to feed Mario Mandžukić and Thomas Müller and it's not for nothing that he's been touted as a Ballon d'Or winner.

Photo: Official Bayern München Facebook
Can you see Bayern retaining the Champions League this year?

Enis: No team has ever retained the Champions League, but Bayern have as good a chance as the Barca and Madrid teams of old of winning it again. It's tough to make predictions in October, but once Guardiola's tactics click properly, they'll be as fearsome as they were last year.

Predicted Bayern line-up?

Enis: There are few certainties in this regard, Pep has really mixed it up. I'll go with: 

(4-2-3-1): Neuer; Rafinha, Dante, Boateng, Alaba; Lahm; Müller, Kroos, Schweinsteiger, Ribéry; Mandžukić. 

But Mario Götze could well be pushing for a start, which would see Lahm drop back to right-back and Schweinsteiger take the holding role. Robben could also start in Rafinha's place, with Lahm at RB, Schweini holding and Müller tucking in.

Do you believe that City will progress from the group stages in this season's CL?

Enis: I think they will, but much of it comes down to the double-header with CSKA. Russian teams are never easy to beat, but if City can get four points from those two games, they should be able to finish second, behind Bayern.

Who would you say is City's dangerman to Guardiola's side on Wednesday and why?

Enis: Another tough one, as City have so much quality across the board. Getting past Vincent Kompany is never easy but if David Silva's fit he could have a good evening's work. Lahm has not convinced in midfield yet and there will be space for City to counter. If Silva, or indeed Samir Nasri, is on song, they could be very effective on the counter.

And finally... prediction for the game?

Enis: I'll have to go with a Bayern win. City have been rather inconsistent this year and though they've been impressive at home, Bayern are Bayern - a ridiculously talented, experienced and in-form team. It's as big a test of the new Bayern as it is the new City, though.

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(c) The Sky Blue View 2013

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