Toni Kroos and Xherdan Shaqiri didn’t need to hit high gear as Bayern Munich, thanks to Franck Ribery’s brace, effortlessly overpowered Roberto Firmino & Hoffenheim.
It’s a result that sees Bayern recover quickly from a shock defeat away to BATE Borisov in the Champions League in midweek as well as continue their impressive winning streak in the league. That’s 7 wins from 7 games now, keeping them in first place with a perfect tally of 21 points. Already, they look a team that won’t be easily stopped as they bid to reclaim the Bundesliga title from Borussia Dortmund. Jupp Heynckes continues to get positive results from this team.
As for Markus Babbel and his Hoffenheim side, they see their run of 3 games without defeat cut short in what was a hugely lacklustre display. They have also now failed to score in their last 2 games. With just 2 wins from 7 so far this season, they find themselves languishing in 12th place on 7 points.
Flix & Trix had a trained eye on Toni Kroos, Xherdan Shaqiri, and Roberto Firmino throughout this game. Here’s how they did.
Toni Kroos, although he had 75 touches of the ball and completed 58 passes as he played in the hole in Jupp Heyckes’ 4-2-3-1 setup, wasn’t as prominent in this game as he had been in preceding ones. On this day, Bayern’s wide players, particularly Franck Ribery, would take all the plaudits.
Ribery and Xherdan Shaqiri (who replaced Thomas Muller in the 26th minute due to injury) enjoyed cutting in off the flanks and into central positions as per usual. This proved especially effective on this day. Ribery in particular had the running of the left flank as neither Hoffenheim right full-back Andreas Beck nor right midfielder Patrick Ochs could’ve contained him.
Muller, before he was subbed off, cut inside as well from the right and this movement led to Bayern’s first goal, scored in the 19th minute. Muller cut inside and lay the ball off to Ribery, who bamboozled Beck before scoring an effort which nutmegged ‘keeper Koen Casteels in goal. Similar movement from Ribery on the opposite flank nearly saw the Frenchman grab a second goal in the 39th minute, but his effort from long range was scoffed wide.
Toni Kroos facilitated the inward movement of Bayern’s wide men by drifting out to the flanks. He also had to do so because Hoffenheim’s defensive midfielders, Daniel Williams and Sebastian Rudy, crowded him out in the middle.
Still, Toni Kroos, due to the complete domination of Bayern Munich, who commanded 64% of the ball on this day, was able to get into decent positions and make a few things happen on his own. He created 1 goal-scoring opportunity from open play on this day. This chance came in the 48th minute and was a bit fortunate in doing so. A Mario Mandzukic cross fell straight to Kroos’ feet, but he miscued his shot completely. He still managed to get the ball over to Ribery, who curled home his and Bayern’s second goal of the game. Kroos got the assist, but he really should’ve scored.
That miscued shot summed up his shooting on the day. He had 3 efforts in total, but none were on target. Two of them were blocked, but replays showed the latter was heading way, way wide. His shooting aside, his passing, link up play, and movement saw him put in a decent performance nonetheless.
It wasn’t as vintage a performance as versus Wolfsburg, but Xherdan Shaqiri asked a few questions of Hoffenheim’s defence. He played on the right side of Toni Kroos and, as was mentioned, he enjoyed cutting inside. This allowed Phillip Lahm room to get forward.
He didn’t create any goal-scoring opportunities on this day, but he did provide a few dangerous in-swinging crosses from the right flank. None of them found the waiting Mandzukic, who endured a frustrating day in front of goal.
Shaqiri also had 2 efforts at goal. One was a decent effort which curled just wide after he cut in from the right in the 56th minute while the other was deflected out for a corner from a similar situation.
Not the most influential of performances in the end, but there were certainly positives to be taken away. Xherdan Shaqiri continues to look an excellent buy for Jupp Heynckes and his versatility will continue to prove key.
His ability has already instilled a measure of confidence in Heynckes. He could’ve left Muller on as he looked fit to continue after taking an accidental blow to the face from Mandzukic, but took him off anyway, knowing that in Shaqiri he had a quality option on the bench. That certainly speaks volumes.
Roberto Firmino made a decent impact versus Stuttgart despite not getting a wealth of opportunities to do so. In this game, however, things would be a lot harder.
Bayern, as was mentioned, were in complete control. Firmino, as a result, spent most of the game chasing the ball as well as defending deep in his own half. He made 2 tackles and 1 interception on this day.
He enjoyed just 36 touches of the ball as Hoffenheim had to make do with just 36% possession during this game. On the bright side, every time he got the ball, he looked like making something happen. There were at least 3 instances of note.
One instance was in the 44th minute when he drifted out to the left flank. He faked the Bayern defender before putting the ball on his left foot which he used to fire in a dangerous cross, but none of his team-mates made contact with it in the box and it was flicked away by a Bayern player. Holger Badstuber, however, fouled Beck as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a throw.
From the ensuing free-kick, the ball found its way to Firmino, who had stayed on the left wing. This time, he cut onto his right foot, skipping past both Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez before firing in an in-swinging cross. It was good work by Firmino, but the cross was lacking in quality and was easily cleared by Bayern.
The final instance of note was in the 65th minute when he deftly flicked the ball over a Bayern midfielder, turned on a dime and sped off into the attacking half, only to be taken down by Franck Ribery as he drew closer to goal. It was another prime example of the flair possessed by this player.
He also had 2 efforts at goal — one header from a Fabian Johnson cross which went over the bar in the 22nd minute and another from long range which went well wide in the 47th (this shot was the wrong decision as Ochs was in space on the right).
He also created just 1 goal-scoring opportunity which came just before the final whistle — a headed pass which saw Eren Derdiyok shoot wide.
Those fleeting moments were some of the best and only bright spots seen by Hoffenheim going forward. They simply were not allowed the time or space by a hard-working, tight Bayern to put attacks together. This saw Firmino and Joselu — the players furthest forward for Hoffenheim — find it difficult to get into the game.
But if that wasn’t bad enough, Hoffenheim’s terrible passing made things worse. They misplaced simple short passes as well as the more risky long passes, gifting Bayern possession and frustrating Firmino and Joselu even more. Bayern, in turn, were happy to play keep ball (and they did this very well), upon realising that Hoffenheim were not pressing them and had clearly given up once they saw the game was lost.
In the end, Roberto Firmino did what he could when given the opportunity, but it was a frustrating day for him and it showed when he was yellow carded for a bit of petulance in the 65th minute, throwing down the ball in frustration as his appeal for a throw (a wrong appeal) was rejected by the referee.
It wasn’t the best of days for any of these players, but Toni Kroos and Xherdan Shaqiri won’t mind as their team got all three points. As for Roberto Firmino and Hoffenheim, however, they have much work to do if they are to have a decent season.
**Stats courtesy of Whoscored
**Heat maps courtesy of ESPN FC