Fußball-Bundesliga

Bayern Munich set Bundesliga points record with three matches left (and other records set to go down)

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With four matches left in the Bundesliga season, Bayern Munich have already set a points record, the three they earned Saturday against Freiburg pushing the new German champions to 84 on the season. Having only dropped points four times in 31 games, Bayern are on pace to finish with 92, 11 better than the previous record (81, set by Borussia Dortmund last season).

On the weekend between Champions League semifinal legs, Jupp Heynckes made major changes. Only one starter, central defender Jerome Boateng, was retained from Tuesday’s rout of Barcelona. Against Freiburg, a club battling for a top four finish, FCB still controlled the game. Their 68 percent of the match’s possession allowed Xherdan Shaqiri’s 35th minute goal to stand up.

Bayern went on to win 1-0, leaving them alone atop the list for most points in a league season.

That’s not the only German record Bayern’s set to topple:

  • If they can put one more point between them and Dortmund (who came into today 20 points behind Bayern), they’ll set the mark for greatest margin of victory in a season.
  • Win at home in two weeks against Augsburg and Bayern will tie the mark for most home wins in a season. They already have the record for wins on the road.
  • If they don’t lose again, they’ll tie the Bundesliga record for fewest defeats (1) and fewest away losses (0).
  • Sitting on 90, they’re unlikely to break the record for goals scored in a season (101), but they’ll almost certainly best the mark for fewest goals allowed. They’ve conceded 14 while the Bayern team of 2007-08 conceded the current low: 21.
  • The best goal difference in Bundesliga history coming into he year was +64. Bayern’s already at +75.
  • With today’s result, they’ve already set a mark for clean sheets: 20.

And there are undoubtedly a number of more granular records Bayern’s going to break over the next three weeks. While their focus will be on Champions League, they’ll be doing major damages to Germany’s record books, setting marks Pep Guardiola will be hard-pressed to improve on next season.

Dear Germany: This is all the scouting report you need on Michel Bastos (Video)

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If there’s one thing the German Bundesliga needs to know about new Schalke winger Michel Bastos, it’s this:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTBoWMqK-eo%5D

The guy has a freakin’ amazing left foot, but one search of YouTube could have told you that. I guess that site’s blocked at Greuther Furth, which is unfortunate. This is literally all you need to know about Michel Bastos.

That may seem a bit harsh, but if you had to have one amazing trait, it would be a glorious left foot. The weapon got Bastos from Brazil to Lille to Lyon and won him a place on Brazil’s 2010 World Cup squad as a type of make shift left back. Along the way, opponents learned the key to stopping the 29-year-old: Don’t let him have space to hurt you. On dead balls, you can’t help it (and he does find a way to hurt you). In open play, just stay in front of him.

Just after halftime today in Gelsenkirchen, Greuther Furth saw why. A defender too concerned from keeping him from going wide gave him far too much room. With his outside foot, Bastos comes across the ball and puts in into the far side netting.

The list of players who can do that is short, and Bastos may be at its top. The Bundesliga best remember that.

Jermaine Jones sees straight red for Schalke at Stuttgart

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Whatever chance Schalke had of coming back from their two-goal deficit ended the moment Jermaine Jones let the ground.

In the 73rd minute at Stuttgart on Saturday, Schalke was trailing 3-1 but had a man advantage. Gotuko Sakai had been sent off six minutes earlier, leaving Stuttgart to hold out with ten men.

What’s the one thing you don’t want to do with a man advantage? Even out the numbers, and although Jones’s supporters will say the Schalke midfield didn’t make contact with Ibrahima Traouré, this was just as dangerous a tackle as one that did catches a man:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilFyd-y0y_I]

It’s difficult to imagine a more careless challenge. You’re coming in from behind. Your leg is straight, and although it’s trying to play the ball, it’s off the ground. We’ve seen that challenge break ankles.

We talked about it on the site this spring, but tackles like that are a matter of personal respect. Surely Jones isn’t going out there trying to hurt people (else, there’d be a lot of injured Bundesliga players), but you have to have enough empathy for your opponent to say to yourself ‘No, those kind of challenges just aren’t worth it.’ It’s a matter of professionalism. It’s a matter of decency.

And look at the area on the field where he makes the challenge. The leverage in that situation is minimal. From a prevention standpoint, Schalke’s probably no more likely to give up a goal if that pass is completed.

The idea that Jones would have had to make more contact to deserve a card defeats one of the purposes of the dangerous play rule (or, any rule). There is a preventative element to the rules. They’re there to not only codify punishments but also discourage the play.

Everything Jones did on that play was wrong. That he didn’t make contact with Traouré was out of his control the moment he leaves his feet. That Traouré’s survival instincts kicked is in not something that saves Jones. If anything, the fact that Jones drew out somebody’s primal need to withdraw from the play is more evidence of his culpability.

What makes this story more than just a normal red card is Jones’s history; or, perception, depending on how you want to phrase it. In the eyes of many who watch the U.S. men’s national team, Jones is overly aggressive, foul-prone, and he doesn’t make up for it in other facets of his game. Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann recently addressed the concerns.

Today, that side of his game came through. He made a very poor decision that left his team 10-on-10 while chasing a two-goal deficit. More importantly, he put another player’s health at the mercy of a split-second reflex.

Mario Gomez scores on return to Bundesliga action

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Mario Gomez’s 26 goals were second highest in last season’s Bundesliga, but before Saturday’s match against Hannover, the German international had been kept off the scoresheet this year. The main reason: He’s barely played, missing almost all the season-to-date with an ankle injury.

The 27-year-old returned mid-week in Champions League, coming off the bench to assist on Thomas Müller’s equalizer in Valencia.

He was also on the bench against today in Munich, but thanks to a dominant performance from the Bundesliga’s leaders, Gomez was able to come on in the 66th minute.

In the 67th minute, this happened:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMy8llyEKGY%5D

And there you have the case for Mario Gomez, because as good as Mario Mandzukic has been (and he has been very good, leading the league with nine goals since moving from Wolfsburg), he’s a completely different kind of player than one who will plow through a man to win a goal. Gomez is more of a true No. 9. Mandzukic is an all-arounder.

But does that necessarily mean Jupp Heynckes is going to go back to Gomez? Probably not immediately. To this point, Bayern’s 11-1-1 in league, have a nine-point lead on second place Dortmund, and are averaging just under three goals per game.

The results have quietly added credence to some preseason criticisms of Gomez, some of which came from within the team. Within Bayern, where around each corner there’s another legend with another opinion, there were voices questioning Gomez’s ability, with Uli Hoeness going out of his way to call him a good (not great) player. If Gomez was handed a substitute’s role, it wouldn’t create much of a stir at the club.

Don’t expect anything definitive from Heynckes in the short-term. Odds are you’ll see the head coach take it game-by-game once Gomez is capable of playing 90, picking his players based on fitness, form, and foe. Sometimes it will be Mandzukic, others Gomez, others both, with Mandzukic capable of doing more than being nine-ish.

We don’t know if Gomez will win his spot back. All we know is his health gives Heynckes the option.