Having had just a couple of days to lick their wounds after their 3-0 Champions’ League defeat in Barcelona, a deflated FC Bayern returned to Bundesliga action to take on Bavarian rival FC Augsburg, a side hungry for points in their mission to secure a place in Europe. With Bayern more focussed on things to come and avoiding further injuries and Augsburg eyeing the prize, it was always going to be a tough encounter for Pep Guardiola’s men.
Mindful of the lack of momentum in recent weeks, the Bayern coach kept his team changes to a minimum, resting Manuel Neuer, Xabi Alonso, Mehdi Benatia, and Rafinha. Surprisingly, the masked Robert Lewandowski made the starting lineup with Bayern stepping out for the first time in their new all-red Trikot. In place of the four rested players came ‘keeper Pepe Reina, Mitchell Weiser, Danté, and Mario Götze.
Showing plenty of urgency right from the start, Augsburg made no attempt to hide their ambition in taking advantage of a wounded Bayern team. Burly Paraguay international Raúl Bobadilla tested Reina early, before Götze found both the outside of the post and FCA ‘keeper Marwin Hitz.
After just thirteen minutes, the visitors’ ‘route one’ approach paid off. A long clearance from Hitz was chased down by the energetic Bobadilla. When Reina blundered into the striker, referee Sascha Stegemann had no choice but to point at the spot and brandish the dreaded Rot. In truth, the challenge was more clumsy than cynical, but as the last line of defence, Reina could have no complaints.
Bayern’s reduction to ten men meant that Manuel Neuer’s hopes of a quiet afternoon came to an unexpected end, with skipper Philipp Lahm the man sacrificed. With no chance to warm up properly Neuer’s first task was to face Paul Verhaegh’s spot-kick, and although he didn’t get a hand on the ball, his presence was enough as the Augsburg skipper pinged the ball off the base of the right post.
Despite being down to ten men, the home side continued to boss the possession, but the next decent chance went the way of the Fuggers when experienced campaigner Halil Altintop sent the ball wide of the target when it seemed easier to score.
As the first half came to an end, Robert Lewandowski hit the crossbar as Bayern’s barren run continued – a goal drought stretching back to the Pole’s early goal in the cup defeat against Dortmund.
The second half saw Augsburg bring the on-loan Pierre-Emile Højbjerg for Altintop The young Dane immediately added extra pace to his side’s left flank. Chances came and went for both sides: Weiser tested Hitz with a stinging shot, and Augsburg’s South Korean international Jeong-Ho Hong finally found the back of the Bayern net only to have his effort chalked off for a foul by Bobadilla on Neuer.
The further things went the more dangerous Augsburg looked, and so it proved with just under twenty minutes remaining when Højbjerg found plenty of space to roam down the left. The Dane’s low cross was slightly behind the unmarked Bobadilla, who knocked the ball past Neuer with a smart backheel just before Schweinsteiger slid in to make the tackle.
Try as they might, Bayern were unable to make any headway as Augsburg looked to close things out. Late attempts by Jérôme Boateng and sub Claudio Pizarro flew high and wide of the target. The final whistle signalled Die Roten’s fourth league defeat of the season, their fourth defeat in four games including the Pokal semi-final shootout defeat against Dortmund, and their third game on the bounce without a goal – not the best form to take into a Champions’ League semi-final second leg against Barcelona.
Man of the Match
Hard to call as nobody really stood out in what was a fairly flat showing by a team with other things on its mind. Although he never really set things alight, Mario Götze gets the nod for an energetic first half.
Bundesliga Week 32
Allianz Arena, München, 09.05.2014
FC Bayern 0:1 (0:0) FC Augsburg
– / Bobadilla 71.
FC Bayern: Reina – Weiser, Boateng, Danté, Juan Bernat – Schweinsteiger – Lahm (c) (14. Neuer), Thiago – Müller (74. Rafinha), Götze – Lewandowski (74. Pizarro)
Augsburg: Hitz – Verhaegh (c), Hong, Klavan, Baba – Baier, Kohr – Esswein (32. Werner), Feulner, Halil Altintop (46. Højbjerg) – Bobadilla (83. Mölders)
Yellow Cards: Dante / Hong
Red Cards: Reina
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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