Bayern Sign Off With Win over Hannover

Bayern Munich made hard work of overcoming Hannover, but a first-half penalty from Thomas Müller was enough to see them win their final match before the winter break. Pep Guardiola’s depleted side dominated for large periods of the match, but were limited to just a single goal. The three points, and a surprise defeat for Borussia Dortmund at Köln however sees the Bavarians go into the Rückrunde with an eight point lead.

Both sides went very close to opening the scoring in the opening seven minutes with Ron-Robert Zieler denying Thiago Alcantara with a fantastic save before Leon Andreasen saw a header tipped against the bar. Bayern hit the woodwork on the half-hour mark via Robert Lewandowski and then saw Zieler deny Müller on the rebound.

A moment of madness from Christian Schulz five minutes before the interval saw the Hannover captain clearly handball in the area to hand Bayern a penalty that  Müller dutifully dispatched.

Bayern dominated the rest of the game in terms of possession and chances, but were just unable to extend their advantage- much to the frustration of an animated Pep Guardiola on the touchline.

Bare bones

The winter break cannot come soon enough for Bayern in one respect. If their current rate of injuries were to continue, it is debatable whether they would have enough fit players to field a side. Against Hannover Pep Guardiola was only able to name 13 fit outfield players in his match day squad today with Philipp Lahm the latest casualty following a knock picked up in the midweek Cup win over Darmstadt.

The list may just get a little longer after midfielder Arturo Vidal was forced off before the end with an injury.

I’ll huff and I’ll puff…

I was taken back to childhood days of being read the story of the ‘Three Little Pigs’ as Bayern make hard work of their win. Blowing down the houses of straw and sticks proved to be easy, but the Hannover house caused the Bayern piglets more trouble.

20 shots on goal, but only one goal to show for their efforts. Bayern enjoyed 79% possession and played a whopping 858 passes with a 90% pass completion. Impressive stats, but surely such stats could and should have led to a more comprehensive win.

Zieler vs Neuer

The first-half saw the two keepers tested and showing just why they are so highly rated. Zieler’s save to deny Thiago in the 5th minute was fantastic to say the least. Two minutes later and Manuel Neuer followed suit as he tipped a Leon Andreasen header onto the crossbar to deny the home side the opener.

The half hour mark saw Robert Lewandowski hit the post only for Müller to seemingly stroke home the rebound. Zieler showed great powers of recovery to get up and then clear the ball off the line with his feet. He was however powerless to save the penalty that ultimately sealed the points for Bayern.

Müller- 14 and counting

It has been a good weekend for Thomas Müller. A new contract extension signed on Friday that will see him stay at the Allianz Arena until at least 2021 was followed by a goal against Hannover to give him his best scoring season of his career. The past three seasons have seen the fan favourite score 13 goals, but his penalty past Ron-Robert Zieler was his 14th of the current season. At this scoring rate, he’ll be pushing both Lewandowski and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the leading scorer crown this season.

Christmas in the basement

While Bayern finish the Hinrunde at the top of the Christmas tree as Herbstmeister, Hannover will be spending the winter break in the bottom three. There will be not much Christmas cheer at the HDI-Arena as they look towards the New Year knowing they have a real fight on their hands to avoid the dreaded drop.

Bayern: Neuer (c) – Javi Martinez, Boateng, Badstuber (Kimmich 73’)- Xabi Alonso- Thiago, Vidal (Rode 88’)- Rafinha, Coman, Müller- Lewandowski

Hannover: Zieler- Sakai, Marcelo, Schulz (c), Albornoz- Schmiedebach, Sane- Karaman (Klaus 84’), Andreasen (Saint-Maximin 69’), Prib- Erdinc (Benschop 58’)

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Mathew Burt

A year spent living in Bremen got Mathew hooked on the Bundesliga with regular visits to the Weser Stadion getting in the way of his studies. Back in the UK now, he still keenly follows the Grün-Weißen and German football in general. Follow him on Twitter @matburt74.