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Three things that went through my head during Bayern Munich v. Bayer Leverkusen September 24, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in German soccer.
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The big man up front.

1. I thought Anatoly Tymoshchuk was supposed to be a bad passer. Does anyone else remember this? When Bayern dropped Tymoshchuk and then later converted him to a center back, I thought that was because he was too slow to release the ball. Against Leverkusen, he definitely got all the time he liked to pick out a ball, but I could find no fault with his vision, timing or technique. The pass of the night was his long diagonal to find Thomas Muller on the right flank. Did I remember wrong, were his critics wrong, or has he just completely changed his game since he left Shakhtar Donestsk?

2. Bayern was so dominant it was boring. Is this what it’s like to watch Barcelona if you’re not a fan? I found the wit of Toni Kroos’ deliveries, Bastian Schweinsteiger’s dynamism and the aforementioned Tymoshchuk passes satisfying, but by and large there wasn’t much to hold on to. I went and did something else during the second half.

3. Mario Gomez, near-dinosaur. The ESPN commentator claimed it would take 200 million Euros to pry the striker from Bayern’s clutches, but that’s surely delusional. Gomez lives just on the cusp of top-level obsolescence. Though he is clever and aware, he is not a creator, and he lacks the searing pace of many top big-man forwards. He only gets away with this because he is both a flawless goal-poacher and a perfect target man; that is, a composite of both the traditional roles of a number nine. But there’s a reason those two roles are both near-anachronisms. Bayern uses Gomez correctly — it takes iron discipline to avoid lumping the ball at such a willing target when the ideas dry up — but he limits the team. You get the sense that crossing the ball for Gomez is the only way they’ll score from open play. He can only stretch a defense horizontally, across its box, rather than vertically, either by forcing it to turn or by tempting defenders upfield by dropping deep. They know dropping deep would be a waste of Gomez’s time. I don’t think any nine-figure offers are going to be coming in for him.