FC Bayern returned to Bundesliga action with a journey north-west to Paderborn, with normal service being resumed. The home side must surely have taken some heart from Bayern’s lack of sharpness in front of goal against Shakhtar Donetsk in midweek, but any hopes of pulling off a shock were quickly quashed as Bayern once again clicked into gear at a packed Benteler-Arena.
Coach Pep Guardiola made two changes from the team that had started in the Ukraine. Holger Badstuber returned to a four-man defence strengthened by the return of Jérôme Boateng to domestic duty after his two match suspension, while skipper Bastian Schweinsteiger was rested in place of striker Robert Lewandowski as ‘keeper Manuel Neuer took the captain’s armband. Xabi Alonso assumed the role of defensive midfield backbone in tandem with David Alaba, and with Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry out on the flanks and Thomas Müller taking a deeper role behind Lewandowski there was a far more stable look to the offensive unit.
The home side started as they meant to go on in assuming a defensive shape, and were more than happy to let Bayern take control of the possession early in the piece. While not remotely threatening in the Bayern half, André Breitenreiter’s team looked solidly professional, at least for the opening twenty minutes as the Bavarians looked to pick their way past the well-positioned dark blue and black bus.
After much passing and probing the breakthrough finally came after twenty-four minutes, when Robben’s sumptuous first-time flick from Alaba’s defence-slicing pass found Lewandowski in space. With the Paderborn defence cracked open the Pole had the target at his mercy, and he calmly slotted the ball under keeper Lukas Kruse to score a very welcome ninth goal of the season.
Lewandowski hasn’t really convinced since making the move from Borussia Dortmund, but here he took his chances when they came with plenty of aplomb. Eight minutes before half-time he added his and Bayern’s second, showing great positional awareness before executing a clinical close-range finish from a tight angle after the hard-working Ribéry chased the ball to the byline before delivering a sharp cutback.
Paderborn did give the otherwise untested Neuer a few opportunities to get hold of the ball as both Elias Kachunga and Lukas Rupp warmed the Bayern’s keeper’s gloves, but these were rare forays by a team now looking to get out of the game with as little damage as possible.
The second half started in much the same way as the first as Bayern kept their possession stats at well above seventy percent, though as the game passed the hour mark the most dramatic moment was arguably Albin Meha’s audacious attempt to beat Neuer from inside his own half. However the balance was tipped completely in the visitors’ favour after sixty-two minutes, when Paderborn centre-back Florian Hartherz bundled the energetic Robben over in the box.
There was no doubt about the penalty and with Hartherz as the last line of the defence there was little surprise when referee Bastian Dankert brandished the dreaded Rot for the Notbremse, but even as a watching Bayern fan one could help feeling that the decision was just a little bit harsh in what had been a hard-fought but clean game. Despite regular penalty-taker Thomas Müller being on the field Robben stepped up to take the kick himself, and made no mistake as he stroked the ball firmly past Kruse.
Breitenreiter’s men had tried their best to keep Bayern out, but being reduced to ten men completely broke the back of their defensive effort. Bayern flooded forward relentlessly, and after a number of near misses Ribéry scored Die Roten’s fourth after seventy-two minutes. Perfectly set up by Robben, the Frenchman gave Kruse no chance as he calmly caressed the ball into the net with that magical right foot.
Six minutes later and not even three minutes after coming on for Rafinha, youngster Mitchell Weiser scored his first senior goal in Bayern colours with what was arguably the goal of the day. Having collected the ball from fellow substitute Sebastian Rode, the twenty-year old found the back of the net with a delicious lobbed finish that left poor Kruse completely helpless.
With the impotent performance against Donetsk now a distant memory, there was even time for a sixth for Bayern, which despite the strong performance was just a little unfair on their hard-working opponents. Returning the earlier favour, Ribéry was the provider for Robben, who notched up his fourteenth goal of the season with a deft flick four minutes from full-time.
Bayern have now scored fourteen goals in their last two Bundesliga matches, and for a brief while stretched their lead at the top of the table to eleven points before second-placed Wolfsburg pegged the advantage back to eight with a 2-1 win over Hertha BSC on the following evening. Friday sees Bayern take on 1. FC Köln, in a game that also marks the 115th anniversary of the foundation of the Bavarian giants.
Bundesliga Week 22
Benteler-Arena, Paderborn, 21.02.2015
SC Paderborn 07 0:6 (0:2) FC Bayern
– / Lewandowski 24., 37., Robben pen 63., 86., Ribéry 72., Weiser 78.
Paderborn: L. Kruse – Rafa Lopez (76. Vrančić), Ziegler, Hünemeier (c) – Heinloth, Hartherz – Bakalorz (71. Pepić), Rupp – Koç, Meha – Kachunga (59. Lakić)
FC Bayern: Neuer (c) – Rafinha (75. Weiser ), Boateng, Badstuber, Bernat (78. Danté) – Alonso (74. Rode) – Alaba – Müller – Robben, Ribéry – Lewandowski
Yellow Cards: – / –
Red Cards: Hartherz 62. / –
Originally published on the website of the Red Dragons London, the United Kingdom’s premier FC Bayern München fan club
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