Bayern made it three wins from three in the weekend’s top game as they downed Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 at the Allianz Arena. Thomas Müller was the hero with a brace, while Arjen Robben added a third. It was a case of Leverkusen being good, but Bayern being exceedingly good.
What do you do when you’ve got your two first-choice centre-backs out? Well if you’re Pep Guardiola you just fill your side with midfielders. With both Mehdi Benatia and Jerome Boateng missing, the Bayern trainer went with a three-man back line of Philipp Lahm, David Alaba and Juan Bernat with Thiago playing just in front.
Roger Schmidt opted for the same team that impressed in midweek as the Werkself made it through to the Champions League group stage beating Lazio.
Bayern made it past the 9 second mark this week without conceding a goal, which shows that work has been done in midweek to improve. As expected, a tight start to the game ensued with Bayern enjoying possession, but with Leverkusen using a high-intensity, pressing game to hurry the Bavarians.
The opening 20 minutes was most memorable for a flurry of yellow cards. Leverkusen left-back Wendell was surely told to get tight to Arjen Robben, but I’m pretty sure the instructions from trainer Schmidt were no to try to maim the flying Dutchman. That however is what the young Brazilian did just six minutes in. It was reminiscent of Gandalf’s famous line when facing Balrog in Lord of the Rings- ‘You shall not pass!’
Juan Bernat did a copycat move on the speedy Karim Bellarabi before both Christoph Kramer and Thiago mis-timed tackles to get their names in referee Florian Meyers’ notebook.
Bayern then produced a moment of real quality to open the scoring. A diagonal ball from Alonso sent Douglas Costa away down the left and the new darling of the Allianz Arena easily skinned Roberto Hilbert before sending an inviting ball into the direction of Thomas Müller in the six-yard box. Müller did what Müller usually does and converted. In his 200th Bundesliga appearance the Bayern favourite bagged his fourth goal of the season in just his third game.
Four minutes later and Costa almost doubled the lead, but from a tight angle could only hook his shot onto the post/crossbar. Leverkusen’s best moment of the opening half came (unsurprisingly) from a Hakan Çalhanoğlu freekick, which he fired in with pace and dip forcing Manuel Neuer to tip onto the bar.
Leverkusen began the second 45 minutes in positive mood and Neuer had to deny Kießling but their efforts were to be for nothing when Hilbert gave away a penalty on the hour mark as he needlessly shoved Arturo Vidal. A clear penalty and that man Müller stepped up to fire home his second of the evening. On a night of milestones, the converted penalty was Bayern’s 300th attempt in their Bundesliga history.
The hapless Hilbert then conceded a second spot-kick by handling a Douglas Costa cross. With a hat-trick on offer Müller kindly let Robben get in on the scoring which he duly did by firing past Leno from the spot.
In the end it could have been worse for the visitors with Leno denying Lewandowski twice, but Bayern were simply too good and Guardiola’s tactics paid off perfectly. Centre-backs? Pah! Overated, who needs ‘em?
Müller’s season best total for Bayern has been 13 goals (achieved three times), but at his current rate of scoring that total will be bettered by mid-November.
A definite case of ‘Mia San Mia’ from Bayern tonight.
Prior to the match, Bayern Munich honored Claudio Pizarro. The Peruvian international played a total of nine seasons for the Bavarians, from 2001-2007 and then again from 2012 through last season. Pizarro scored 125 goals for Bayern in 327 matches in all competitions while wearing Bayern red while helping the club capture six Bundesliga titles, five Pokal championships and the UEFA Champions League crown. Pizarro, who has earned 81 caps while representing his homeland, was twice Pokal scoring champion and also won a Pokal title while with Werder Bremen.
1-0 Müller (26) 2-0 Müller (60) 3-0 Robben (71)
Bayern: Neuer, Lahm, Alonso, Alaba, Bernat (Dante 72), Vidal, Thiago (Rode 82), Müller, Robben (Götze 78), Costa, Lewandowski
Leverkusen: Leno, Hilbert, Tah, Papadopoulos, Wendell (Boenisch 78), Kramer, Bender, Bellarabi, Calhanoglu (Kruse 61), Mehmedi (Brandt 46), Kießling
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