September 23, 2017

Robben on song and Lewandowski finds his form as Bayern carve up H96

Following a number of “almost, but not quite there” performances that have defined their season so far, FC Bayern would finally click into gear as the Bundesliga moved into week seven – with sixth-placed Hannover 96 being brushed aside with consummate ease. With Pep Guardiola’s side not quite in top gear Hannover coach Tayfun Korkut would have given his team a chance of creating an upset, but within a quarter of an hour any such hope had been blown away by a dominant Bayern side.

The Bayern coach would retain the back three that had started against CSKA Moscow in midweek, with Rafinha and Xherdan Shaqiri making the starting lineup instead of Mario Götze and Thomas Müller. In spite of the continued policy of squad rotation, there would be a more stable look to the team that would settle into an exciting-looking 3-4-2-1 formation.

While Bayern have been almost perfect at the back with just the one goal conceded, their main problem has been putting the chances away in the final third – with Robert Lewandowski in particular struggling to find his form. The Polish striker would almost immediately set this record straight in the sixth minute with a textbook finish, collecting Rafinha’s pin-point looping pass from the half-way line on his chest before calmly striking a right-footed shot low into the bottom corner past ‘keeper Ron-Robert Zieler from fourteen yards.

As in previous matches Die Roten would be relentless as any plans Hannover might have had for the match fell apart, but this time they would make their chances count. Just six minutes after the opener Arjen Robben would make the most of a dreadful error from Hannover’s Brazilian defender Felipe, winning the ball midway inside the opposition half before sprinting in on goal. With the defence caught cold the Dutchman would serenely make his way to the edge of the penalty area before stroking the ball past Zieler with his lethal left boot.

With Hannover now in damage control mode, it was just a matter of time before Bayern would score their third. Robben would force Zieler into a good low save with another rasping left-footed effort, and on twenty minutes the excellent Xabi Alonso’s audacious effort from just inside the half-way line would call for a desperate tip over the crossbar from Zieler.

The effervescent Robben would now have his sights firmly on goal and would continue to tease and test the Hannover defence, but when the third goal came it would be an almost carbon copy of the first. This time the assist would come from Shaqiri, whose ball from just inside his own half was brilliantly finished by Lewandowski. After collecting the ball brilliantly the Pole would settle himself and find his spot, completing the move with another right-footed shot – this time into the left bottom corner. In a new take on the goal celebration, Lewandowski would make his way to the stands, grabbing a camera to take a selfie with a group of ecstatic fans.

Hannover would have an excellent chance to pull a goal back on the brink of half-time as Pole Artur Sobiech looked to emulate his countryman Lewandowski, but despite being clean in on goal he would be denied by Manuel Neuer, who would pull off an excellent save despite having had nothing to do for the previous forty-four minutes. The half-time whistle would cap off an almost perfect performance from Bayern, arguably their best forty-five minutes of football of the season so far.

The second half would see the visitors tighten things up at the back, and Bayern would slip down a gear while remaining in complete control. The chances would still come with both Robben and Lewandowski continuing to press and probe, and twelve minutes from time the Dutchman would complete his own brace. Jinking into the box and leaving a series of flat-footed defenders in his wake, that famous left foot would send another shot towards the goal, rocketing past Zieler and his near post before bulging the back of the net.

The Hannover ‘keeper would produce a fine save to deny Lewandowski his first hat-trick in Bayern colours from Robben’s floated left-wing cross, but when the final whistle blew there was every reason for Bayern fans to be happy with their team’s performance. With other results going their way Bayern would end the weekend on seventeen points from their seven matches – four clear at the top ahead of TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Borussia Mönchengladbach.

1. Bundesliga, Week 7
Allianz Arena, München, 23.09.2014

FC Bayern 4:0 (3:0) Hannover 96
Lewandowski 6., 38., Robben 13., 79 / –

FC Bayern: Neuer – Benatia, Dante, Alaba – Rafinha, Lahm (c) (75. Rode), Alonso (82. Gaudino), Bernat – Robben, Shaqiri (60. Pizarro) – Lewandowski

Hannover: Zieler – Sakai, Marcelo, Felipe, C. Schulz (c), Albornoz (46. Pander) – Schmiedebach, Gülselam, Kiyotake (72. Schlaudraff) – Sobiech, Joselu (46. Bittencourt)

Yellow Cards: – / –

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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