Bayern clinch title with win over stubborn Berlin (and a little help elsewhere)

One expected a comedown after the midweek Champions’ League quarter-final heroics against FC Porto, and this was clear as FC Bayern took on strugglers Hertha BSC at a packed Allianz Arena. The tight 1-0 win was enough to send Bayern fifteen points clear of second-placed VfL Wolfsburg with four matches remaining, and the Wolves’ defeat by the same score in Mönchengladbach was enough to ensure a record-extending twenty-fourth Bundesliga crown (and twenty-fifh German championship in all) for Die Roten.

With the outcome of the title unknown until the following evening there was a slightly strange atmosphere in the ground, and with the upcoming Cup semi-final with Borussia Dortmund looming large nobody was expecting a sparkling performance – but in the end a subdued but efficient Bayern would just about do enough against a solid Berlin side desperate for points.

Sebastian Rode and Mitchell Weiser returned to the starting lineup along with Gianluca Gaudino with Thiago, Xabi Alonso and Juan Bernat all on the bench, and with Rafinha unavailable Philipp Lahm took up residence on the the left side of a three-man defence. There was some good news on the injury front, with Javi Martínez taking up a place on the bench after his long layoff.

The visitors started brightly as Bayern adopted a more relaxed approach, and had the best of the opportunities early on. There was a scare for the much-criticised Danté as he sent a Marvin Plattenhardt cross narrowly wide of his own goal, and although Bayern settled down a little better there were very few chances against their well-drilled opponents. Gaudino and Thomas Müller warmed the gloves of ‘keeper Sascha Burchert, but that was about for a fairly forgettable first half.

The second half saw the exchange of one teenager for another as summer signing Sinan Kurt replaced Gaudino, but again it was the men from the capital who created the better chances early on. Manuel Neuer made easy work of an effort from Swiss striker Valentin Stocker, but minutes later produced a world class save to deny Nico Schulz. After getting away from the static Danté in the middle of the pitch Schulz was in on goal with just the Bayern ‘keeper to beat, but his on-target effort was brilliantly parried by the Bayern number one.

Thiago and the returning Claudio Pizarro came on for Müller and Mario Götze as Guardiola looked to speed things up a little, but Hertha remained resolute. Bastian Schweinsteiger was denied by the crossbar as the home crowd continued to be frustrated, but as the game entered the final ten minutes and Pál Dárdai’s side looked to lock things down Bayern produced their final burst. On eighty minutes the impressive Weiser made a speedy run down the right, cutting the ball back neatly for Schweinsteiger to blast it into the top-right hand corner.

It had been a tedious encounter, but Schweinsteiger’s spectacular effort was more than worth the wait. With three points on the bag it was just a matter of waiting on Wolfsburg to slip up, and when Max Kruse struck for Mönchengladbach a minute from time all of Munich could celebrate yet another league title – their third-quickest after 2013/14 and 2012/13. There was no time for parties however; the Meisterschale might have been retained for a third year, but bigger tests remain – with a wounded Dortmund up next.

Man of the Match

A forgettable match, and one where Bayern have to work themselves too hard. Mitchell Weiser again made the most of his opportunity to make the starting lineup, but for his solidity between the sticks Manuel Neuer takes the award this week.

Player Watch

Bayern’s extensive injury problems have given plenty of the fringe players the opportunity to get more playing time, and Mitchell Weiser has made the most of his chances. Ironically, this has come just weeks after the announcement that his contract was not being renewed at Bayern. He has looked more than decent against Berlin was one of the better players in a Bayern Trikot, leaving one wondering whether the decision to release him might have been just a little hasty.

Elsewhere, Danté had another game to forget. After almost turning a cross into his own goal early on, he was again caught flat-footed by a faster opponent – only to be saved by Manuel Neuer. There are real worries about the Brazilian’s presence – or lack of it – in the middle of the defence, and this will surely be on coach Guardiola’s mind as looks to pick his team to face Dortmund.

Bundesliga Week 30
Allianz Arena, München, 25.04.2015

FC Bayern 1:0 (0:0) FC Hertha BSC
Schweinsteiger 80. / –

FC Bayern: Neuer – Lahm (c), Boateng, Danté – Schweinsteiger – Weiser, Rode, Gaudino (46. Kurt 46) – Müller (67. Thiago), Götze (75. Pizarro) – Lewandowski

Berlin: Burchert – Pekarik, S. Langkamp, Brooks, Plattenhardt – Skjelbred, Lustenberger (c) – Haraguchi, Stocker (73. Hegeler), Schulz (83. Wagner) – Kalou (66. Ndjeng)

Yellow Cards: – / Kalou

Match Report originally published on the website of the Red Dragons London, the United Kingdom’s premier FC Bayern München fan club

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London-based but with his heart firmly in Fröttmaning, Rick Joshua's love of German football goes back more than thirty years and has witnessed everything from the pain of Spain '82 and the glory of Italia '90 to the sheer desolation of Euro 2000. This has all been encapsulated in the encyclopaedic Schwarz und Weiß website and blog, which at some three hundred or so pages is still not complete. Should you wish to disturb him, you can get in touch with Rick on Twitter @fussballchef. This carries a double meaning, as he can prepare a mean Obazda too.

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