As you know, there have been several matches over a short period of time, and I thought I would reflect upon them. For one reason or another, it seems like a good thing to do at this time.
So, we made it through two qualification matches, and it was no easy ride. Before going any further with this post, I have to point out the following: if you think that Lahm was crap in these games, please do not waste your time and stop reading this post now because, in that case, we already have a fundamental disagreement. If not, feel free to proceed.
First off, I wish there was some kind of technology that would block all the hype – negative or positive – that is coming from the media and fans. Let the team breathe. They need it. Let the coach breathe. He needs it, too.
As to the performance itself, the match against Austria was, no doubt, more nerve-racking of the two, although I was not completely satisfied with how the team played against the Faroe Islands either. They look like they were in a frenzy: either too excited or too nervous, or… I do not even know. It really goes for the whole team. Naturally, Lahm’s performance was of special interest to me.
He was rather sloppy in both matches. However, I do not think that he was very bad. Let me explain myself. When the whole team plays badly, – and the whole team did play badly, – saying that someone was bad loses its appeal, so to speak. Now, if someone asked the magic mirror, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the worst of them all?”, I know for sure what my mirror would answer, and it would not be Lahm. It looks like the media, at least, would agree with me on that one. I also believe that he played better against Austria than against the Faroe Islands. Surely, his tackles were not as good as we would have liked them to be. But his participation in the attack was good, from my point of view. Hence, that alone does not make him “crap”. For me, his first match at EURO 2012 was crap. The two matches in question were average but not terrible. He “used his experience and cleverness to withstand the Austrian attack reasonably error-free” (SZ). Not to shabby, huh? All of that until – please take notice – the 73rd minute and that bad pass to Neuer. That is another thing for which people blamed Lahm. I agree that it was very poor, and I am not even sure how to explain it, except saying that… well, s*** happens. On the other hand, passes in midfield were terrible too, and they could have led to us conceding a goal just as much as Lahm’s pass could have but did not. Nevertheless, people were ready to eat Lahm up for that 73rd minute. In my opinion, the reason why his performance had such a big response is because of the expectations, or standards, that people have when it comes to Lahm. In fact, it works the same way for every player, but it appears Lahm is in a separate category.
Also, you must have already heard that Lahm is going to miss a match against Ireland because of the suspension due to the two yellow cards. I would have never thought that this news would be so much fuss. The world of football was coming to an end for the second time, I might add, since the release of Lahm’s book. Perhaps, it is a historic event for some, I do not know… It certainly felt that way with all the discussions. Some fans even forgot that, in their opinion, something similar was the definition of a leader. Well, Lahm will just chill at home with the family or train with Bayern or something. I am sure he will find what to do with his time. I do think that the second yellow card was not justified.
Overall, I am still not sure why the National Team had two poor performances in a row, although I tend to blame it on the pressure and some experimental work that is taking place. (People wanted to see a change, they got it; so, patience…) I am also not sure why Lahm did not do well in those games. When we got to Mainz and Valencia, he did absolutely fine.
In the match against Mainz, he…
… was rarely needed in defense, which is why he joined the offense and, alongside Müller, constructed remarkable attacks, sometimes with filigreeing passes in the opponent’s penalty box and powerful dribbling. In the second half, [he] urged his colleagues to maintain an adequate balance of the offensive and defensive play. Cleared a couple of tricky situations and occupied himself with integrating Javi Martínez. (the source)
In yesterday’s match against Valencia, which was the first match for Bayern in this season’s Champions League, Lahm…
…was very snappy with his tackles, as well as noticeable in the attack and forceful in the team play with Arjen Robben. Every now and then [he was] a little annoyed because at times Robben ignored him, and therefore, he rushed forward for nothing. Then he looked stunned, as Martínez told him to come back to the defense, whereas he thought of it as his job. Obviously, [he] finds his colleague’s “Priority for the Defense” attitude great, hence immediately showed him thumbs up. [Lahm] has the capacity to stay focused even when he’s not needed and, thus, to act with confidence at any time. (the source)
All of this surely sounds good to me, and I hope it has the same effect on you. The “rushing forward for nothing” applies not only to situations with Robben, but also to those with Toni Kroos. The latter still has not learned to give the ball back to Lahm, and Lahm does not seem to learn that it is pointless to hope to get the ball back from Kroos. Also, I am sure many of you remember that the media jokingly called Lahm the leader of the movement “Priority for the Defense” some time ago. I think it was when Louis van Gaal was there. It was due to the fact that he stressed the importance of balance between attacking and defending, and Bayern lacked the “defending” aspect of the equation at the time, so Lahm spoke of it every chance he got.
However, I do not remember the episode with Javi that SZ describes. So, if anyone can remind me of what exactly they are talking about, I will appreciate it. I do remember, though, how Lahm was ready to… uhm… throw some punches, probably verbal, when Thomas got tackled. More often than not, one can see when Lahm thinks that things got way out of line. That was one of those situations. The way he brushed off Valencia’s player spoke volumes, not the mention the referee who felt like explaining something to Lahm. (I also liked how Lahm and Bastian were ready to fight the referee because of Gustavo’s yellow card, and they were right; Lahm was the first, though, to understand that there was no point in doing so.)
The bottom line: do not despair. Lahm is still Lahm. He has had some good games and some bad ones, and that is the way it goes in football.
PS.: Bierhoff sort of criticized Hummels for his comment, and my reaction was, “Dude, seriously?! C’mon! That wasn’t even criticism. You should know better.”