Pokal Double at the Arena
The Allianz Arena was the center of German football the last two weeks, hosting six matches for both home teams for Champions League and Bundesliga matches, culminating in a doubleheader of DFB Pokal matches this week. Our team was on hand!
Müller, Bayern Clean Up Hannover
by Salman Mitha
Allianz Arena, Munich – If there any questions about FC Bayern Munich’s season, it wasn’t if they would compete for titles. It was could they repeat their historical season last season. And with a new head coach. After this past week dominating their matches in all competitions, Bayern quieted any whispers.
Thomas Müller scored two goals as Bayern defeated Hannover 96 for the second time in 11 days, this time 4-1 and move on in the DFB Pokal German Cup tournament.
Since the calendar turned to September, last year’s treble winners have won matches in all competitions by a total of 13-1, including a lackluster 2-0 Bundesliga win over this same Hannover team. However for this Cup tie, Bayern were energized under the lights and the festive Oktoberfest atmosphere. Their guests were not too willing to give up goals early to get the party started, however cracks appeared as the Hannover backline were not clearing balls out of the danger area early.
In the 12th minute, Bayern were not able to pounce on it early enough. But a club like Bayern will continue to take advantage and shortly they did. Xherdan Shaqiri found a soft spot right in front of goal, Müller may have been tricked by the flight of the ball and may have used an arm or hand. Regardless, the ball went past a confused Ron-Robert Zieler for the 1-nil early lead.
The Reds continued to attack, especially the middle. In the 26th minute, Toni Kroos with a blast set up by Claudio Pizarro, this time Zieler punched it away. A minute later, Dante in basically the same position as Shaq a few minutes earlier, another cross and found Pizarro unmarked in the area. An easy header to the back of the net, 2-0 FCB.
Credit Hannover, they didn’t let the match get away from them. Right before the halftime break, Sebastien Pocognoli with a nice pass to Didier Ya Konan who was able to get it past Manuel Neuer point blank. Despite conceding his first goal in the month of September, Neuer was solid between the posts and continued to be after.
Bayern were just as unfazed as their goalkeeper and controlled the match at the beginning of the second half.
“We played played well, but lost our organization in the last 10 to 15 minutes of the first half,” analyzed Bayern coach Pep Guardiola. “We were able to continue to play on with our mental resolve.”
Müller continued to be the most active, and was rewarded again, Shaqiri setting him up and it felt the game was over.
Müller wanted to plant the final nail in the coffin, and he had a clear shot at goal. Zieler was able to stop the shot, but again, could not control it and sub Franck Ribéry got to the freeball and easily knocked it in. Now it was over.
“We have good memories from Berlin (home of the Cup final) and we want to go back,” said the player of the match Müller. “Today we took a big step.”
“The loss today was worse, I thought we played better,” said Hannover midfielder Leon Andreasen. “Unfortunately we made some mistakes, if you make those kind of mistakes Bayern will score and then makes it difficult for us and you will lose the game.”
The draw for the final 16 of DFB Pokal will take place this Sunday and will be played the first of December.
In the meantime, Bayern will host VfL Wolfsburg at home, while Hannover travel to play at Bayer Leverkusen. Both matches start at 15:30 CET.
Dortmund edge a DFB Cup classic at 1860
by Bernie Reeves
From Naples to Nuremberg to Munich, it has been a tough week for Borussia Dortmund. Three difficult away games have yielded a loss, a draw and a win, and that victory was only secured after they had been taken to extra time by 1860 Munich on Tuesday night in the second round of the DFB Pokal.
Substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang converted a penalty in the 105th minute and Henrik Mkhitaryan iced it minutes later on a trademark Dortmund-counter to defeat the Lions 2-0 to move on in the German Cup competition.
To be sure, Dortmund had enough chances to send 1860 packing, with Marco Reus, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Aubameyang all striking the woodwork and Robert Lewandowski spurning a host of chances in the Allianz Arena.
It was only after Reus had been upended in the box, a foul that yielded a red card for Dominik Stahl, that substitute Aubameyang broke 1860’s stubborn 105-minute resistance, with Mkhitaryan sealing the result with a clinical breakaway goal.
“It’s always difficult to play extra time, especially after playing Wednesday, Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday,” said BVB’s Nuri Sahin after the game. “Three games in a row away from home isn’t ideal, but we have a big squad and a lot of good players. We can rotate a bit and I think we’ve done a good job.”
Indeed, one of Dortmund’s strengths this season is the ability to replace quality with quality and, although a new-look team dropped its first Bundesliga points of the season against 1. FC Nürnberg at the weekend, this was a victory in which the squad played its part.
Young Australian goalkeeper Mitch Langerak was assured between the posts, with youngster Erik Durm deputising ably for Marcel Schmelzer at left-back. Sahin, who began on the bench in Nürnberg, played the entire 120 minutes, and both Jonas Hofmann and Aubameyang impressed from the bench.
Now follows a league encounter at home to SC Freiburg, before a crucial UEFA Champions League clash against Olympique de Marseille at Signal Iduna Park next week.
After having lost their opening European game to SSC Napoli last week, Dortmund are in need of a victory in a group that also contains Champions League veterans Arsenal FC. Sahin doesn’t believe it is now time to panic just yet, however.
“The pressure isn’t on us yet. Napoli are a good team. It’s not easy to play there and we played one half with ten men. But I think if we can win this game, we have a really good chance,” said the 25-year-old.
1860, meanwhile, were somewhat downbeat after coming so close to possibly beating Dortmund via the lottery of a penalty shoot-out, but it was a night that will live long in the memory for the home fans, and one where the atmosphere they created will certainly provide some measure of consolation.
In many respects, this was the biggest match for 1860 since the very first game held in the Allianz way back in 2005, a home clash against Hansa Rostock. That was a sell-out, and so was this, and though crowd numbers have fallen as the club has found itself in a second-tier rut in recent seasons, this was a throwback to the glory years for 1860, a treat for the supporters and an occasion to which the players responded with a hugely courageous display.
“We weren’t expecting to win the game. Perhaps we could have been a bit more attacking against them, but they hit the bar three times and had more chances,” admitted Canadian international Rob Friend. “The crowd were great tonight, though. It’s fantastic to play in front of supporters like that.”
After witnessing such a show of support in only his second game in charge, new coach Friedhelm Funkel will surely be feeling that this is a club that belongs back in the Bundesliga after ten years outside the top flight.
Keep up with Bernie ( @reevsinho9 ) and Salman ( @Sal_SportEagle ) on Talking Fussball – THE podcast covering the Bundesliga and the German National Team. And follow on Twitter @SportEagleTV