Afternoon German football fans. Round three of the Bundesliga continues at the Allianz Arena today, as Pep Guardiola
bids to maintain a 100% start to life at Bayern Munich
at home to Nuremburg.
Bayern have quickly rattled off two successive league wins under the Spaniard, in a 4-1-4-1 formation with plenty of room for fluid movement among the Bavarians' formidable crop of attacking talent. Last week's 1-0 win at Eintracht Frankfurt showed a more steely side to their winning mentality, which may need to be on show again this afternoon against an entertaining Nuremburg outfit.
Nuremburg's start to the campaign has been exciting and a touch frustrating, with 2-2 draws against both Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin. A side joint-coached by Michael Wiesinger
and Armin Reutershahn have shown spirit to respond in both of those matches, but face an uphill task today to leave the Allianz Arena with a similar result.
Plenty of questions have surrounded how Bayern will take shape under Guardiola, in particular as an attacking unit. Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic
was largely overlooked in pre-season but soon returned when the real stuff started, scoring two in as many games so far this season. Arjen Robben
, Franck Ribery
and Thomas Muller
have also featured and have license to get forward at ever possible opportunity, so goals should never be a problem for the defending champions.
Guardiola decided to add two attacking midfielders during the close season, with Mario Gotze
and Thiago Alcantara
a pair of high-profile additions. Thiago has largely operated in a withdrawn midfield role in his early appearances at the Allianz, while Gotze is still waiting for his Bayern debut after being hampered by a muscle injury for the last four months.
Bayern fans finally get their chance to watch Gotze in red this afternoon, with the playmaker passed fit and included in the starting XI for his full debut. Thiago also gets a start in central midfield, alongside Toni Kroos
. A full look at both sides will follow in just a few moments.
Neuer, Lahm, Boateng, Dante
, Alaba, Schweinsteiger, Thiago, Robben, Gotze, Ribery, Mandzukic
NUREMBERG: Schafer, Pinola, Pogatetz, Dabanli, Balitsch, Feulner, Stark, Gebhart, Kiyotake, Mak, Ginczek
A front four of Gotze, Ribery, Robben and Mandzukic matches up with anything in world football, a truly frightening proposition. Thiago will continue in a more withdrawn position alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger
in central midfield, with Kroos and Muller both missing out this afternoon.
An issue of contention for Bayern fans at the moment is who should get the nod to start in central defence alongside Dante
. Jerome Boateng
has been picked ahead of Daniel van Buyten and Javi Martinez
today, but that position remains very much up for grabs this season.
Nuremburg have erred on the side of caution this afternoon, dropping Japanese playmaker and Aston Villa target Hiroshi Kiyotake in favour of teenager Nikolas Stark. Timothy Chandler gets the nod a right-back for the visitors, while Daniel Ginczek
will start in a lone front role.
PREDICTION! With both sides due out imminently at the Allianz Arena there is just time to rather underwhelmingly predict that Bayern will make it three wins from three in the Bundesliga this afternoon. Gotze is definitely capable of a debut goal, but I'll back Robben to net in a 3-1 home success.
Here we go then at the Allianz Arena, with Boateng and Thiago confidently striding out from the back as Bayern get us underway, shooting from left to right.
Bayern have wasted no time settling in possession here, with Robben in particular posing a potent threat as he breaks out wide. Dante then wins an aerial duel with Ginczek as the visitors attempt to smash forward, with Pogatetz fouling Gotze as the debutant gets involved for the first time.
Ribery's floated cross into the danger zone goes just beyond a late run into the box from Schweinsteiger, who fails to make contact at full stretch inside the penalty area.
Gotze slips a clever pass inside in search of Robben, but the Dutchman's attempts to control and turn are crowded out by two Nuremburg defenders. The visitors are pressed back deep in their own half as Bayern probe for the opener, this will take disciplined approach from Nuremburg to survive a home onslaught this afternoon.
Ginczek offers Nuremburg a welcome rest as he drives beyond the halfway line, before eventually winning a free kick under a challenge from Schweinsteiger. Bayern are quick to regain possession through Alaba, who checks inside to find Thiago, who is operating deep. His switch of play falls to Ribery on the right, who wins a corner kick after having his cross blocked by Chandler on the touchline.
OFF THE BAR! Nuremburg have just gone within inches of taking the lead through Ginczek, who launches a speculative strike from at least 30 yards on the counter. His dipping effort swerves violently towards the centre of goal, with Neuer throwing his arms up in vein as the ball crashed back off the crossbar. The Allianz was nearly stunned by that tremendous strike, but as Dante clears can breathe a sigh or relief.
Bayern resume their assault on goal as Ribery's inviting cross towards the far post is cleared behind by Pinola. From the corner Nuremburg get bodies back to clear, with Alaba's attempted diagonal to Robben eventually trickling out on the far side.
Nilsson gets a last-ditch block to stop Mandzukic driving forward inside the penalty area, with the Croatian initially controlling brilliantly after a long pass forward from Schweinsteiger. Plenty of variety in Bayern's early play, as we get an enforced break in play so Mandzukic can receive treatment after going down under a challenge from Pogatetz.
Faulner beats Alaba and shows great pace to break clear down the right, but his cross into the penalty area shows a lack of support as a quick break plays down. At the other end Robben is denied by a strong block from Nilsson, who is being made to work very hard early on in central defence.
Bayern want a penalty kick after Mandzukic was pushed to the ground inside the area by Pinola, but the referee disagrees. Nuremburg have had a lucky escape there, with the forward bundled over in an aerial tussle that saw both players miss a cross from Ribery. Just signs now that Bayern are starting to create space in a congested final third.
YELLOW CARD! Ginczek tries to drop deep and help out an outnumbered midfield, but only collects a caution for his troubles. The forward was late in a sliding challenge on Gotze and probably deserves the booking. From the free kick Mandzukic finds space to meet Alaba's cross at the far post, but a tame header at goal is kept out by Schafer.
PENALTY TO BAYERN! The hosts have been awarded a spot kick after Robben was brought down by Nilsson just inside the penalty area. The Swede looked to have got the ball in a sliding challenge with both players contesting, but nonetheless Bayern have the chance to break the deadlock!
SAVE! Alaba can only send a tame penalty down the middle that Schafer catches comfortably. A horrible miscue from the Swiss full-back, who did look confident lacked authority from the spot. Bayern have now missed two penalties already this season, with the scores still deadlocked at the Allianz Arena.
Substitution: Nuremburg have been forced into an early change, with Nilsson picking up a problem in the challenge that led to Bayern's penalty. The Swede has only just returned from injury but has to replaced by Dabanli before the break.
The visitors win a rare free kick inside Bayern's half for a foul against Mandzukic, but Dante reads a curling cross towards the far post and heads away. At the other end Gotze wins a corner kick for Bayern after cutting inside.
Bayern have another strong penalty should turned away for handball against Chandler, but the American knew little about making contact with Ribery's cross from close range and getsd the benefit of the doubt from the refree. Alaba then hammers towards goal from distance, with Schafer spilling before Dabanli cleared under pressure from Mandzukic.
Dablani took a nasty kick to the knee in making that clearance in the penalty area, forcing a break in play as the substitute receives treatment in stoppage time.
HALF-TIME Bayern 0-0 Nuremburg
Well that was a frustrating first half for Bayern, who have failed to take the lead in this Bavarian derby despite controlling possession and territory. Alaba spurned a golden opportunity for the hosts, with Nuremburg hanging on thanks to some spirited rearguard action.
Bayern have largely looked the more likely, but Nuremburg went within inches of taking the lead through Ginczek. His thunderous drive from distance smacked off the top of the crossbar, giving Guardiola a warning that his side must turn possession into something that counts on the scoreboard.
The hosts also have a whole host of star names to call on from the bench if their frustration continues after the interval, including Xhedran Shaqiri, Thomas Muller
, Toni Kroos
and Claudio Pizarro.
32pm Bayern fans should be largely pleased with the contribution of Gotze on his debut. The playmaker has occupied an advanced central position, regularly swapping with Robben to create dangerous overlaps out wide. I wouldn't expect the former Dortmund midfielder to play a full 90 minutes today, but there should still be time to make a difference after the interval.
Both sides are back out and ready to get the second half underway, with the owness on Bayern to press and search for a breakthrough, after a largely frustrating first period.
YELLOW CARD! Bayern are quick to build possession when play resumes, but a strong challenge from Chander robs Ribery and offers Nuremburg a chance to break clear down the left. Plattenhardt then shows quick feet to bamboozle Lahm and bomb forward, forcing the full-back into a rash challenge that earns the Bayern skipper a caution.
Ribery's duel with Chandler continues as Bayern win a corner kick, but an attempt to take short sees an opportunity to cross quickly wasted. Robben is quick to recycle possession and drive down the right, but Pinola comes across to shield the ball and buy his defenders some time to regroup with a goal kick.
Mandzukic just fails to make proper contact with an inviting cross from Gotze at the far post, with Thiago flashing well over after deciding to try his luck on the follow-up from 25 yards.
Alaba joins a Bayern attack as the pressure grows on a stubborn Nuremburg defence, with Ribery crowded out in the penalty area as he attempted to meet a diagonal pass over the top.
SAVES! In the space of a minute Schafer has just made two fantastic stops to keep the game goalless. First the keeper turned a header from Mandzukic over the crossbar, before diving low to stop Gotze's opportunistic effort at the near post once the corner kick had come in.
SUBSTITUTION: Guardiola decides the time is right to make a change in midfield, with Thomas Muller on in place of Thiago. The German international has immediately occupied an advanced position, which should see Schweinsteiger drop deeper to cover.
Muller gets involved quickly in the final third, combining with Ribery before turning inside to shoot wide of the near post. He probably should have done better there, with Numerburg's spirited backline guilty of a rare lapse in concentration.
Ginczek goes down after an aerial tussle with Dante, forcing a break in play as the forward gets treatment. Nuremburg are using the chance to grab a drink on the touchline, with Bayern looking likely to make more changes as Shaqiri and Kroos warm up waiting to be called upon.
SUBSTITUTION: Bayern's second change is another swap in midfield, with Gotze making way for Kroos. The midfielder has just over 20 minutes to make a difference for the defending champions, as Muller's cross is smacked away by Pinola at the far post.
GOAL! Bayern 1-0 Nuremburg (Ribery)
Finally home pressure tells as Ribery heads Bayern into a deserved lead. Nuremburg failed to clear their lines effectively after Alaba's teasing cut-back had initially been smacked away. Lahm reacted quickest near the corner flag, picking out Ribery with a wonderful ball into the danger zone. Ribery applied the finish unmarked at the far post, with the Frenchman booked soon after for removing his shirt in a jubilant celebration.
SUBSTITUTION: Nuremburg look understandably dejected and make a quick change after conceding. Striker Mike Frantz has been introduced, taking the place of Feulner as the visitors move to a duo in attack late on.
SUBSTITUTION: Another change for the visitors as Japanese playmaker Hidetoshi Kiyotake enters the fray. His omission was huge surprise before kickoff and he wastes no time getting involved, crossing for youngster Stark to head wide from close range.
GOAL! Bayern 2-0 Nuremburg (Robben)
A wonderful solo run and finish from Robben has put the three points beyond doubt for Bayern. The Dutchman drove inside and beat two defenders with a slalom dart, before squeezing a powerful low shot beyond Schafer and into the bottom corner. No less than Guardiola's side deserve as a decisive second goal arrives in some style.
SUBSTITUTION: With the win secured Guardiola decides to give Ribery a deserved rest, with Shaqiri on for the final few minutes. The Swiss youngster has been impressive in patches during the early part of the campaign, and gets another chance to show his considerable talent in the closing stages.
MISS! Alaba once again roams forward with pace and purpose out wide, before cutting inside to pick out Muller. The midfielder has time and space to choose power or placement, but drags a scuffed shot wide. In the next attack Shaqiri manages to trump that miss, skewing beyond the corner unmarked from eight yards.
A tired-looking Ginczek fails to read Kiyotake's flick out wide into space, allowing Bayern to clear and counter in search of a third goal. The hosts decide to keep possession patiently in midfield, running down the clock as Alaba and Dante exchange passes.
Robben strikes a volley first time at the far post after peeling off to meet Alaba's cross, with his low effort driving just shy of the near post. Muller then combines with Mandzukic out wide, but loses possession as Nuremburg break for Ginczek to fire wide at the other end.
FULL-TIME Bayern 2-0 Nuremburg
In the end Bayern's frustrations turned to relief late on, as Ribery and Robben made it three successive Bundesliga wins for Guardiola. Alaba's early penalty miss made things tense for some time at the Allianz Area, but job done for the hosts despite a brave effort from Nuremburg.
That just about does it for out coverage from Munich, but sure to stick with Sports Mole for comprehensive coverage from the Bundesliga and all of Europe's major leagues. Good afternoon!