A few answers and a few questions concerning FC Bayern Munich’s Champions League match-up against SSC Napoli on Wednesday
North Americans need to realize this is the off-week for timekeeping as Europe already changed their clocks last week. Therefore, Wednesday’s match will start at 3:45 p.m. Eastern but good ol’ 20:45 CET if you’re tuning in from Europe. For American viewers, your only live television option is via the DirecTV Champions League package. In Canada, there are two broadcasts: Sportsnet One and TVA Sports will be live from 3:45 p.m. Eastern. Viewers down under should get the match from SBSOne at 6:30 a.m. Eastern on Thursday. Delayed broadcasts on Wednesday include Sportsnet One at 7 p.m. Eastern, Fox Deportes at 8 p.m. Eastern and supercheaptickets Fox Soccer Plus at 11 p.m. Eastern.
The long term absentees for either side remain unchanged with the notable exception of Goran Pandev, who should find his way onto the bench for Napoli in this one, after returning to the squad from injury.
Of more immediate concern for Bayern fans is the status of Bastian Schweinsteiger. Though there’s no telling how much pain he’ll be playing with, he’ll be ready to go Wednesday night, as will Daniel van Buyten. Diego Contento will also be available after missing the squad on Saturday.
A key missing man isn’t injured at all: it’s the suspended Paolo Cannavaro. Federico Fernandez deputizes, and though we’re not putting the blame on him, Napoli haven’t won any of the 3 matches he’s started this season.
Bastian Schweinsteiger will incur a suspension if he receives a card in Wednesday’s match while the same is true for Napoli wingback Christian Maggio and defender Salvatore Aronica.
Two dynamic, exciting and attacking teams square off again, and with a win and the right result in the other Group A match, Bayern can pack their bags for the final 16. Yet this game has the all the makings of a snoozer for the ages.
It seems like one of the stupidest things in the world to say that Bayern put themselves at a disadvantage by scoring early in Napoli, but that almost seems to be what happened. The early lead forced Napoli to adapt their approach earlier than they would have in a long 0-0 period, and earlier than they would have liked if they were going to have a chance in the match.
The positive for Bayern is that despite those adaptations by the opponent, they rarely seemed anything but firmly in control of the match. The most uncertain period came right after the Badstuber own goal, and the mental work-through of conceding after so long would have been difficult against any opponent. But the question remains: will Heynckes, hired with a mandate to stress defense be willing to employ the risks that may be necessary to win this match when he was unwilling to do so in Napoli? There’s nothing in this season’s body of work to suggest that he will.
Some of the questions I’ll be curious to see the answer to:
What will Bayern do to cut down their vulnerability to Napoli’s wide play? If the solution involves a more defensive minded Bastian Schweinsteiger, what will the requisite effect on the Bayern attack be?
How will Bayern attempt to integrate Gomez into the offense after he was smothered by Napoli’s 3-back set in the first matchup?
Could some well timed-switching between Müller and Kroos complicate the tracking assignments for Napoli’s back three or would it lead to breakouts for Zuniga that would have been avoidable?