Having laboured to a single-goal win over Hertha BSC the week before FC Bayern München would be pitted in the late Saturday afternoon Spitzenspiel against third-placed Bayer Leverkusen, and would once again claim all three points with relative ease – though there would be more than the odd scare to keep Pep Guardiola’s side on their toes.
The Bayern coach would make just one change to the eleven that had started the previous week in Berlin, with Medhi Benatia returning in place of Danté in the centre of the four-man back line. While Bayern would be looking at maintaining their seven point lead over VfL Wolfsburg, a win for Roger Schmidt’s side would take them back into third place ahead of surprise package FC Augsburg who had claimed all three points in Köln earlier in the afternoon.
It would be the visitors who would create the first genuine opportunity. With just three minutes on the clock a defensive mix-up involving the usually reliable Jérôme Boateng and Xabi Alonso would let in the pacy Karim Bellarabi, and Leverkusen’s German international would do everything right in dinking the ball over Manuel Neuer only for Juan Bernat to swipe the ball off the line and save the home side’s blushes.
Bayern would initially struggle to establish themselves against the opponents’ high attacking line, and Leverkusen would come close again when South Korean Heung-Min Son’s cross was just a little to firm for striker Stefan Kießling. However by the twenty minute mark things would be back under control, and it would be Die Roten that would look more threatening while bossing the possession.
‘Keeper Manuel Neuer would be called up for perform more Libero duties as Leverkusen briefly threatened to unshackle themselves from Bayern’s tightening grip, and at the other end the home side’s dominance would begin to show as Arjen Robben had the ball in the back of the net only to have what looked to have been a perfectly legitimate goal chalked off for a foul on ‘keeper Leno.
Half time would see the disappointingly anonymous Mario Götze replaced by Sebastian Rode, and the hard-working ex-Frankfurt man would win a corner just six minutes after the break. Robben’s short kick would find Rafinha, and the Brazilian’s cross into the box would be nodded on for Alonso who in turn would find Franck Ribéry in space. The Frenchman would strike the ball sharply on the volley with his left foot to finally break the deadlock – and with it notch his one-hundredth goal for FC Bayern.
Having taken the lead Bayern would quickly switch up a gear, and they would create far more opportunities as they sought to double their advantage. Leno would turn a looping Thomas Müller effort onto the post and Robben would see one of his trademark left-footed crackers gloved over the crossbar by the Bayer ‘keeper, but the best chance would fall to Robert Lewandowski – who could only find the side netting when it looked far easier to score.
With the visitors unable to match their earlier work rate Bayern would be able to things slow down and pass the ball around at will, upping their possession statistics and seeing the game out easily. In the end it had been a straightforward win against a decent if slightly limited opponent, and Guardiola’s side would continue their unbeaten league run and secure their tenth home win on the bounce.
Bayern now look forward to closing off the Champions’ League group phase campaign at home to CSKA Moskva, before travelling a short distance up the road to take on local rivals Augsburg – now sitting in an impressive third place.
Bundesliga Week 14
Allianz Arena, München, 06.12.2014
FC Bayern 1:0 (0:0) Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Ribéry 51. / –
FC Bayern: Neuer – Rafinha, Benatia, Boateng, Bernat – Alonso – Robben, Ribéry – Götze (46. Rode) – Müller (88. Schweinsteiger), Lewandowski (90.+2. Højbjerg)
Leverkusen: Leno – Jedvaj, Toprak, Spahić, Wendell – L. Bender (62. Rolfes), Castro – Bellarabi, Çalhanoğlu, Son (62. Drmić) – Kießling (75. R. Kruse)
Yellow Cards: – / Son, Castro, Bellarabi
Originally published on the website of the Red Dragons London, the United Kingdom’s premier FC Bayern München fan club
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