FC Bayern’s final home game before the winter break would end with a comfortable if slightly underwhelming 2-0 win over relegation-threatened SC Freiburg – more than enough to maintain their unblemished record at the Allianz Arena. There would be a few slight injury concerns in a match where Manuel Neuer wouldn’t have to make a single save, but the evening would finish with a spectacular laser light show for the 71,000 crowd.
Coach Pep Guardiola would continue with his squad rotation, with Danté coming in for Jérôme Boateng at the back and Thomas Müller and Mario Götze replacing Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sebastian Rode in midfield. With Schweinsteiger on the bench, Manuel Neuer would once again take the captain’s armband to lead the team out against a Freiburg side sitting in sixteenth place in the table – just ahead of Borussia Dortmund on goal difference.
There would be a more than familiar pattern to the game, with Bayern immediately establishing a stranglehold early on against an opponent that had across the course of the season offered little in the way of attacking potential. The chances would start to come too for Guardiola’s men, but they would continually be thwarted by their poor finishing, the woodwork, or Freiburg’s excellent goalkeeper, Swiss international Roman Bürki.
Robert Lewandowski would send a shot over the bar as Bayern effectively set up camp in the Freiburg half, and Bürki would have his gloves warmed by both Xabi Alonso and Götze before keeping out a well-struck Arjen Robben curler. At the other end, a rare Freiburg break would see Christian Günter sprint towards goal but fail to get past Rafinha. Both Robben and Franck Ribéry would send efforts wide as shots continued to rain down on the Freiburg goal, and Thomas Müller would see a looping cross-cum-shot ping off the woodwork.
Six minutes before half-time Bayern would suffer first of what would be three injury blows: Mehdi Benatia would pull up and signal to the touchline, and Jérôme Boateng would make his way onto the pitch. The Moroccan would later be diagnosed with a groin injury that keeps him out of the final Hinrunde fixture against Mainz.
With Bayern having to resettle slightly after the enforced substitution Freiburg might have hoped to make their way to the break still level, but the home side would have other ideas. Alonso’s ball into the box would be smartly nodded square by Ribery, and Robben would coming haring in to meet it with a low diving header. It may not have been one of the flying Dutchman’s more spectacular goals, but it would bring up his century – just three days after Ribéry had achieved the same feat in Augsburg.
Half time would see another change with Lewandowski (ankle injury) making way for Bastian Schweinsteiger, and things would continue in much the same vein in a second half that was arguably even more one-sided than the first. Just three minutes after the restart a Robben ball into the box would be skillfully collected by Juan Bernat, whose shot cannoned off the crossbar. Müller would charge forward, taking a defender’s boot in the face as he nodded it into the net to double the lead.
Christian Streich’s men must have feared the worst as the home side continued to flood forward, and even the forced replacement of the hobbling Alonso by Xherdan Shaqiri wouldn’t put Bayern off their stride. Bürki would pull out another fine stop to deny Danté before seeing Swiss international team mate Shaqiri head over the target, but the unluckiest player on the pitch surely had to be Bernat. Having already hit the crossbar, the Spaniard would first be denied by the Freiburg Torhüter before hitting the base of the near post just minutes later. Bernat therefore still awaits his first Bayern goal, but on another evening he could very easily have finished with a hat-trick.
With the three points safely in the bag Bayern would wind things down considerably and coast through the final quarter of an hour – though they will be concerned about the inability to turn decent chances into goals. More than thirty shots would be fired at the Freiburg goal and of these there would be around a dozen excellent opportunities – and a return of just two goals is slightly worrying. Against higher quality opponents they are less likely to get as many openings, and maximising the return will be crucial against the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Chelsea.
A win is a win however, and the three points would take Bayern twelve clear ahead of second-placed Wolfsburg having played one game more. The fans in the Allianz would be treated to a spectacular festive laser and light show after the match, but before the players can enjoy the winter break they will be looking to complete what has been an excellent Hinrunde in Mainz.
Bundesliga Week 16
Allianz Arena, München, 16.12.2014
FC Bayern 2:0 (1:0) SC Freiburg
Robben 41., Müller 48. / –
FC Bayern: Neuer (c) – Rafinha, Benatia (39. Boateng), Danté, Bernat – Alonso (60. Shaqiri) – Robben, Müller, Götze, Ribéry – Lewandowski (46. Schweinsteiger)
Freiburg: Bürki – Riether, Torrejon, Krmas (72. Jullien), Kempf, Sorg (46. Mujdza) – Schuster (c), Höfler – Klaus (51. Kerk), Günter – Mehmedi
Yellow Cards: Benatia / Schuster
Originally published on the website of the Red Dragons London, the United Kingdom’s premier FC Bayern München fan club
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