Home form obliges yet again as Bayern Munich prevail in the 16th round of Bundesliga with a 3-0 victory over newly promoted St.Pauli to climb up to 5th spot.
Allianz Arena welcomed St.Pauli to the citadel of Bayern Munich on this Saturday. St.Pauli did not have a good start to their Bundesliga campaign, as expected. The team from Hamburg got promoted to Bundesliga for the first time in 1977. They went down in that year itself and only managed to win back Bundesliga promotion after 10 years. The trend of promotion-relegation continued in tandem for the yo-yo side. Prior to this game they had only managed to score 14 goals in 15 outings, having lost 8 games already and with a goal difference of 9. They have struggled to find the net consistently so far and last night was no exception to their mediocre goal-scoring stature.
Bayern Munich, on the other hand, has had a good run of form of late at their own backyard. They came into the match with four wins on the trot at the Allianz Arena and have scored 14 goals in the process. Despite going through a dreadful situation domestically, the Bavarians qualified for the knockout stage of Champions League topping their group. For the first time in their history they have won 5 out of the 6 group league games in Champions League. However, 17 points and 6 paces away from the summit in Bundesliga is not Bayern’s proper place and they showed their class today to improve their position by reclaiming 2 places in the table.
Under pressure coach Louis van Gaal made several changes to the lineup that faced Schalke a week ago. It was refreshing to not to see either of Demichellis and Van Buyten starting for Die Roten. Van Gaal also relieved the fans of Mario Gomez’s antics of squandering opportunities. Tymoshchuk partnered Breno at the heart of defense as Contento filled up the left back position. Müller was asked to fill the boots of Gomez and Altintop was given another opportunity to bolster his position in the team in the right wing.
Right from the start, Bayern maintained territorial advantage and kept the pressure up. Despite a couple of half chances created by the visitors through Bartels, it was the homeside who took the lead after a brilliant movement helped them go up by one goal. Schweinsteiger set up Altintop with some open space in front of the penalty box. The Turkish international sidestepped an opposition defender and spanked the top left corner of the St.Pauli net to give Bayern a deserving lead. For the rest of the first half it was more or less a one way traffic as Bayern came mighty close to add to the misery of the buccaneers of the league. Schweinsteiger fluffed a couple of open header from Kroos’ corner kicks.
The second half only worsened St.Pauli’s morale. Just after the break, Bayern got a couple of chances, with Kroos’ effort brilliantly thwarted by Kessler whereas Müller made a meal of a one-on-one chance. Then St.Pauli got their best chance of the game through a quick counter attack. But Ebbers made it one over Müller in terms of squandering an opportunity, that too right in front of an open goal. The blooper might go down as one of the misses of this year.
On 70th minute, Müller saw himself one-on-one with Kessler again, following some sloppy defensive work by the Hamburgers. But before Müller could fluff yet another chance, he was felled by Kessler inside the box. Television replays confirmed that it was a penalty but it also confirmed that Kessler had the right to go for the ball. But the match official thought otherwise and sent Kessler off. Lahm clinically put the ball into the back of the net with aplomb and doubled the home team’s lead, rounding off his only important contribution of the match.
The game ended as a contest then and there. Bayern kept possession of the ball. Shortly after St.Pauli went down by a man, Ribery seemed to wake up from his untimely hibernation and produced some good skills and created a couple of chances for Bayern. Finally moments before the final whistle, it was Ribery who took his chance well to give the host team a 3 goal cushion over their hapless opponents. With this win, Bayern have moved to 5th spot in the table.
The Delivery Boy
Toni Kroos’ set piece deliveries has been good in this game. Except for the last couple of corner kicks, he took the rest of them and the quality of crosses has been good. Two of his corner kicks met Schweinsteiger’s head unchallenged. On both the occasion Schweinsteiger should have done better to bury them home. Kroos made intelligent forward runs and in the first half served a cheeky low cross to Ribery inside the penalty box of which the French winger made a meal. A brilliant second half save from Kessler kept Kroos from taking his name to the scoresheet.
The Curse Of The Solo Performer
It happened with Klose, Gomez and now with Müller. If the fans thought that the absence of Gomez in the lineup ensures absence of squandering opportunities, they were wrong. Müller neatly stepped into Gomez’s boots and did exactly what is expected to see these days in Bayern Munich games – awful misses from in front of the goal. This evening, Müller was setup four times in front of the goal out of which twice he was one-on-one with Kessler. He fluffed all of them and had he not collided with Kessler to win Bayern a penalty on the 70th minute, odds were high that he would have made no justice to that great Kroos through ball. One of his shots had hit the post but from such a distance with so much time and space a striker is expected to put it into the back of the net.Müller did not have the physical presence of Gomez which was another let down. Though he showed good mobility by dropping deep to see more of the ball.
Finally it seems that Bayern has got some stability at the back with neither of Van Buyten and Demichellis around at the heart of defense. Tymoshchuk, the Ukrainian skipper, has been outstanding in his makeshift role in this season. Even today he made a couple of last ditch sliding tackles on Ebbers and Bartels in the first half and made a goalline save as well. His partner Breno, maybe poor in positioning and quite slow to react, but his reading of the game is good and so is his tackling and anticipation. Once Badstuber comes back, Bayern will probably have a quality defensive unit.
Apart from the goal which Ribery took brilliantly by rounding Hain, the French maestro has had a quiet afternoon by his standards. To be honest, his crosses were very poor. When he should have floated them in, he drilled them and vice versa. He failed to link up with Contento as well. He cut a sorry figure during the second half of the match as he tried to cut inside on quite a few occasions and shoot from long range with pinpoint inaccuracy.
You must do better, Ribery
Schweinsteiger got into the groove of things a little later than expected. After missing out on two open headers, Schweini made amends by setting up Altintop for the first goal. As the game wore on, Schweini bossed the midfield and distributed the ball well. After the game was over, in the press conference he announced that he has signed a new four year deal which will keep him at the club till 2016.