Created on 04-11-2007 at 00:00 AM
At half-time in Saturday’s match, Allianz Arena announcer Stefan Lehmann directed the attention of the 69,000 crowd to the VIP box and the figure of Gerd Müller, who smiled benignly as applause rang out to celebrate his 62nd birthday. “And warm up too Gerd, in case it’s still 0-0 after 75 minutes,” Lehmann jokingly told the man “who scored about 8 million times for Bayern.“
However, even “Der Bomber“ would have been pushed to do any better than his successors on this particular afternoon. “We made plenty of chances and we deserved to win, but it was one of those days when the ball just won’t go in,” chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge commented after an ultimately disappointing goalless draw with Eintracht Frankfurt.
Rarely have the match stats been so heavily weighted in one side’s favour. Bayern delivered 38 shots to their opponents’ five, took the corner count 16-2, won 59 percent of their tackles, and registered 63 percent of the possession, a figure which after 20 minutes of play was an almost unbelievable 80 percent. “That basically says it all,” Ottmar Hitzfeld mused the following day. “We gave it everything we had, but it wasn’t to be.“
“You gt games like that once or twice a season. You can keep on shooting until you’re blue in the face,” Mark van Bommel reflected. The Dutch midfielder shot eight times at the Frankfurt goal, but either narrowly missed the target or was foiled by outstanding Eintracht keeper Oka Nikolov, who saved a total of 15 shots. “We warmed his gloves fairly regularly,” Hitzfeld ironically noted.
Best chance falls to Toni
Veteran shot-stopper Nikolov, a last-minute stand-in for sick number one Markus Pröll, made arguably his most important save after just 13 seconds (picture). A Zé Roberto cross found Luca Toni unmarked just yards from goal, but the man who has already opened the scoring eight times this season failed to net this time. “If Toni had scored right at the start, Frankfurt’s defensive tactics would have failed straight away,” Rummenigge reflected.
The weakened Frankfurt side came to the Allianz Arena with no greater ambition than defending their way to a point. By the time the match entered the closing phase, the visitors simply parked all ten of their outfield players around their own box. “You normally wouldn’t get away with that,” declared Hamit Altintop, “not every visiting team will have as much luck as they did.“ However, Eintracht will not be the last team to come to Munich with n ultra-defensive attitude.
Shortage of goals
On the plus side, Bayern created chances at the rate of almost one a minute. “We had four or five gilt-edged chances, and that normally gets you at least one goal,” Hitzfeld observed, nevertheless pleased with his team’s “outstanding display“ and reserving his criticism for their wastefulness in front of goal. “In my experience, the important thing is that you’re creating chances,” Rummenigge agreed. “With the quality we have up front, I’m sure we’ll start scoring again soon.“
Bayern have now gone three league matches without a goal from a striker, and also drew their previous outing 0-0 in Dortmund a week ago, but neither those facts nor the approach of Hamburg to within two points of the leaders has disturbed the peace at the club for now. “We’re not concerned, because we played well today,“ Rummenigge summarized. Gerd Müller was doubtless thinking the same thing.