Mario Götze and FC Bayern were nearly grounded away to Nürnberg last weekend
Mario Götze and FC Bayern were nearly grounded away to Nürnberg last weekend

Have Nürnberg uncovered Bayern's weakness?

Munich - FC Bayern München may have demonstrated on countless occasions why they are presently Europe's team to beat, but 1. FC Nürnberg's display in Matchday 20's Bavarian derby might just have shed some light on how the reigning Bundesliga champions can be overcome.

Boisterous Nürnberg

While that game ultimately became Bayern's 45th successive league fixture without defeat, they were initially pinned against the ropes by a Nürnberg side who, contrary to many teams' fearful approach, tried to fight fire with fire.

Buoyed by back-to-back victories and perhaps taking inspiration from VfB Stuttgart's gung-ho approach against Pep Guardiola's troops, Nürnberg pressed Bayern high up the pitch, attacking them at pace as often as possible in a furious opening. With more clinical finishing, the tactic would surely have paid rich dividends. As it was, however, Gertjan Verbeek's side merely hit the woodwork - again - and gave Manuel Neuer a scare or two.

So is Nürnberg's bold and brazen approach a way of levelling the playing field against a side who have become used to having things their own way? Had the hosts not lost Timothy Chandler and Daniel Ginczek to injuries, might we be talking about Bayern's first Bundesliga defeat since October 2012?


Perhaps, but Nürnberg certainly did enough to have Guardiola biting his nails. "I realised straight away why FC Bayern have only won here once in the past six years," the 43-year-old said afterwards. Nürnberg did not just build the barricades the way many teams do when Bayern come to town. They sharpened their claws.

"We played a fantastic first 20 minutes," said Verbeek, before stating why his side were unable to go the distance: "That cost us a lot of energy." The normally stoical Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer was an animated figure on the touchline and admitted afterwards that he had "rarely seen a side play with as much power as Nürnberg".

Exploiting the weakness

What Nürnberg's powerplay will have taught the watching scouts from Bayern's next three opponents - SC Freiburg, Hannover 96 and FC Schalke 04 - is that attack may indeed be the best form of defence, even against a seemingly invincible giant. UEFA Champions League opponents Arsenal FC, one of the only two teams, both English (the other being Manchester City FC), to have beaten Bayern since that loss to Bayer 04 Leverkusen 45 Bundesliga games ago, will certainly have taken note as well.

Yet it is one thing knowing Bayern's Achilles heel. Successfully exploiting it is another. Stuttgart suffered last-minute agony in their 2-1 defeat after an equally confident performance, while Nürnberg, for all their efforts, still ended up empty-handed. We are still talking about the UEFA Supercup, FIFA World Club Cup, UEFA Champions League, Bundesliga and DFB Cup holders, after all.