INGOLSTADT MANHANDLED IN CUP LOSS AT BAYERN
A second-half surge by German giants FC Bayern during which they put away five goals in under 45 minute saw Edson Buddle and FC Ingolstadt dumped unceremoniously from the German Cup on Wednesday night.
Even with a number of wholesale changes to the Bayern starting lineup which saw most of their stars either amongst the substitutes or out of uniform for the game, there was little expectation for the last-place team in the 2. Bundesliga to have any chance of upsetting the team that is currently viewed as one of the most imposing across all of Europe.
Bayern head coach Jupp Heynckes opted to leave usual starters Franck Ribery, Philipp Lahm, Manuel Neuer and Mario Gomez on the bench, however the "b-team" starting eleven still featured no less than four players who had been included in Germany's 2010 World Cup squad, highlighting the gulf in talent between the two clubs.
Ingolstadt head coach Benno Möhlmann also chose to omit two of the team's offensive fixtures - regular starting forward Moritz Hartmann and team captain Stefan Leitl - from initial lineup after last weekend's dismal loss to Aachen, a move which only served to practically isolate Buddle as the lone man on the attack.
Two minutes after the opening whistle, Buddle managed to steal the ball off of Toni Kroos just inside the attacking half, and seeing Bayern keeper Hans-Jörg Butt roaming forward off his line, attempted a long that flew safely several yards over the crossbar.
"I was just trying to catch him off his line," Buddle evaluated of his early attempt. "I hit a line drive shot and struck it pretty good, but it was just a little too far."
Despite this early message that the team was looking to attack, they barely mustered the chance to encroach anywhere even near to the Bayern penalty area for large swaths of time throughout the half, as the Bavarians thoroughly dominated possession.
The first opportunity from the hosts came in the eighth minute when David Alaba ran onto a pass near the left edge of the field close to the touchline, and hit a fine cross to the center of the six-yard box towards striker Nils Petersen, which the 22 year-old headed several yards too high.
Five minutes later, Alaba did well to pull a pass down on the left side, then slid the ball backwards to Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, whose 30-yarder initially took Ingolstadt keeper Sascha Kirchstein by surprise, but was ultimately blocked out for a corner.
The Bavarian assault continued, again with Alaba providing the service. The Austrian youngster struck an inswinging corner from the right side past the far post which Thomas Müller lunged out to keep in bounds, the quickly passed back to the center of the area for an attempt by Petersen that was again blocked by Kirchstein.
Moments later, Bayern should have scored the opening goal when Alaba made a tricky run into the right side of the area to the edge of the six-yard box which pulled Kirchstein off his line, then found Petersen at the penalty spot for a wide-open shot, however central defender David Pisot made a clutch clearance off the line to momentarily keep his team in the game.
At the other end of the field, Alaba was responsible for conceding one of the best chances by the Schanzer of the half, after cutting down Tobias Fink on a forward run, setting up a left-side free kick for the guests in the 27th minute. Christoph Knassmüllner struck the set piece well towards Buddle at the far post, however the American was judged to have pushed off of Jerome Boateng while leaping up for the header, stifling any chance for a shock go-ahead goal.
Six minutes later, the Bavarians finally scored the long-expected opening goal, however with a bit of luck helping their way to the lead. Müller worked his magic on the right side to cut to the top of the area, where he hit a low shot that deflected off of Pisot's foot away from Kirchstein, and over the line for 1-0.
Clearly overmatched and having scant few opportunities of advancing the ball into their opponents' end of the field, Ingolstadt's players were often guilty of the rushed pass or decision, exemplified by Andreas Görlitz's complete wreck of a shot from a good position at the edge of the six-yard box in the 42nd minute, which is currently being tracked by NASA and expected to re-enter orbit in 14-15 years.
Alaba, who aside from Müller was the brightest Bayern player on the field, nearly set up another score one minute later, hitting a high cross from the left flank which Petersen headed down in front of Kroos, however the World Cup veteran's round-house kick sent the ball bouncing off the turf and eventually over the crossbar.
Despite being thoroughly outmatched by their hosts, the narrow 1-0 halftime deficit was a credit to the resilient, often last-second defensive play of the Schanzer, however this all went to pot with an entirely lopsided second half.
The Bayern lead was extended in the 49th minuteafter a direct pass into the area by Danijel Pranjic was cleared directly to the foot of Luiz Gustavo, who quickly tapped the ball forward to Alaba. The winger darted towards the center, cut back a step to make space amidst five defenders and fired a low drive inside the right post well out of Kirchstein's reach.
Four minutes later, Petersen made it three for the hosts, running onto a short through-ball from Diego Contento and hitting a low shot with his first touch which rolled unimpeded over the line.
Möhlmann attempted to add more attacking firepower to his on-field corps just before the hour, bringing in Leitl and winger Andreas Buchner, however this did little to stop the onslaught.
In the 65th minute, Bayern substitute Ivica Olic pulled down a diagonal ball on the right side of the area, and while he was initially well defended by Fink, managed to keep possession and hit a tight-angled shot to the near post, however Kirchstein was successful in blocking it out for a corner.
It was of little consequence, as the hosts added a fourth score in the 71st minute when Kroos threaded the needle to lay the ball at Petersen's feet for a short drive past Kirchstein.
Three minutes later, Buddle's evening came to a close when he was pulled in favor of Ahmed Akaichi. Shortly afterwards, the Tunisian striker fired a cross from the left side to Buchner, who was unable to put his shot on frame.
On the subsequent Bayern break, Olic stormed up the left side and centered the ball to Alaba, who was dangerously close to adding a second goal to his tally after firing just wide right.
Unfazed and having little mercy for their northern neighbors, Bayern brought the score to 5-0 with eight minutes on the clock, after an attempted cross from the right side by Rafinha was deflected into goal by Marvin Matip.
The blowout was finally completed in the final seconds of the game, with late substitute Takashi Usami netting his first senior-team goal when he broke free of his marking defender on the right side and easily slotted his low shot inside the far post.
"We didn't come into the game wanting to press Bayern, but with the approach wanting to stay in the game," he surmised of their general strategy in facing an opponent such a high caliber. "Hopefully the longer it went on we'd still be in it and try to get a goal somehow. "
"Overall, they did what they had to do and did a very good job of it."
The team's overall strategy as of late of playing one forward did play large part in limiting Buddle's chances, however being aware of this, he has pushed other aspects of his game fitting to this role.
"These days that's how we're playing, with one striker, so I'm going into games aware of that and just preparing myself for that role, to win as many balls as I can and hold up the ball. It's hard like that o get many opportunities, but the team is on the same page going into each game with this strategy."
With the team rooted to the bottom of the standings and facing a growing above them, Buddle still feels that they are a unified unit in the clubhouse, and can quickly turn their fortunes around despite the drubbing in this particular game.
"The team spirit is still high right now, so we just have to regroup and at this point of the season come together," he asserted. "That's really important."
"I also think that we have a lot of things to correct," he admits. "If we can correct those little things we can scrape through and get some points, it will add up and in the second half of the season we can find ourselves in a fine position."
The loss officially allows Ingolstadt to give sole concentration to their currently faltering league campaign, where they are currently last place in the Bundesliga standings with just over one-third of the season's games played.
They will host a tough Eintracht Frankfurt squad on Sunday afternoon then hit the road five days later to visit a troubled Karlsruher SC squad, in a pair of games which could very well define Möhlmann's future as head coach of the club.