Bayern Munich resumed Bundesliga action by comfortably beating Werder Bremen 4-0 away from home to temporarily extend their lead at the top of the table to 14 points. Although Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Manuel Neuer and Xabi Alonso didna t feature in the game, captain Philipp Lahma s return from injury and an attacking masterclass gave the travelling supporters much to cheer about.
In what wasna t a very encouraging start to the game, Bayern slowly found their rhythm and with the help of some individual brilliance from Thomas Muller and David Alaba, were 2-0 up before the break. The first major chance of the game fell to Robert Lewandowski, whose header was kept out brilliantly by keeper Raphael Wolf in the 15th minute. 9 minutes later, Thomas Mullera s left-footed curler la Robben broke the deadlock and allowed Bayern to boss proceedings since. David Alaba doubled the lead with an exquisite free kick following a foul on Mario Gotze at the end of the first half.
A more confident second-half Werder side didna t allow the visitors any further chances and in fact had quite a few of their own until the 76th minute. Jerome Boatenga s bursting run from defence fed Thomas Muller who chipped the rushing keeper for Lewandowski to comfortably head into an open goal. The same duo of Lewandowski and Muller combined again in injury time when the German unselfishly teed up the Pole to tap in following a neat counter attack.
The scoreline is a dent on the resurgent run of Werder Bremen, who still remain in 9th, within sights of a Europa League spot. A fairly easy set of fixtures follows for them to make their task of European qualification all the more easier.
Bayern are better off without Xabi Alonso
Absent for the 7-0 win against Shakhtar and the Bremen game as well, Xabi Alonsoa s place in the starting 11 will be under serious threat. Although there is no denying his quality, his form has dipped dramatically this year. The partnership between Schweinsteiger and Alonso wasna t as fruitful as expected since both players play in similar deep lying playmaker roles but the addition of Sebastian Rode and Alaba to midfield has given another dynamic to the team a a midfield ready to work hard in defence and offence, which helps them better while attacking on the counter as well as in defending one.
Rodea s inclusion also lessens the pressure on Schweinsteiger in defence. The 24 year old hasna t featured prominently ever since his horror show as right-back against Wolfsburg, but he has made a strong case for himself with his performance against Werder.
With the return of Philipp Lahm and Thiago, Pep Guardiola will have the disposal of playing two of Rode, Alaba, Lahm and Thiago to partner Schweinsteiger. However cool and skilful the Xabi Alonso may be, his passing skill could be sacrificed for the more balanced approach by Guardiola. His arrival in Munich was to plug the void left by numerous injuries, but now that the team is closer to full fitness, he may no longer be a mainstay in the team.
Is Robbena s absence better for Lewandowski?
Since joining Bayern from Dortmund at the start of the season, Robert Lewandowksi has had to acclimatize to a completely different playing style under Pep Guardiola. Excellent in holding up play and creating attacks as a creative No 9, the Pole has been outshone by Arjen Robben in the goals department in his first season at Munich. Bayern Municha s willingness to attack from the wings is a great asset – no team can boast of a winger as deadly as the Dutchman, but sometimes a lack of Plan-B is clearly evident. Robben loves to play on his left foot from the right wing which often leads him positioned as a No. 10 through whom play goes through. Lewandowski suffers in this system. His time on the ball is reduced, and often, the team comes to rely on him as a classic poacher, which is a waste of his talent. With Robben absent yesterday, Lewandowski seemed much more at home. His brace of goals, his linkup with Gotze, and his constant rotation with Thomas Muller, a radically different player compared to Robben, showed how good he can be. Although the team performs brilliantly when both are on the field, it was evident from yesterdaya s game that the Pole is outshone by his teammate, whose absence seems to benefit him.
With all this said, a true test of Bayern Municha s treble winning credentials is yet to come in the DFB Pokal as well as the Champions League.