Resolute Reds 'on the right track'
With 66 minutes on the clock Pep Guardiola sprinted 45 yards down the touchline to speak to the assistant referee. What? No goal? The ball was already out of play before Robert Lewandowski's strike? Bayern's coach was flabbergasted as he gesticulated and remonstrated with the match official but it was all to no avail - so he returned to the bench before celebrating again seconds later: Arjen Robben headed the ensuing corner into the back of the net to make it 1-0 on 67 minutes.
"It was an emotional moment," said Guardiola later, "I just spoke to him. It was all very polite." The Spaniard again gave his all on the touchline against Schalke -- just like his players who did not know whether to celebrate or be annoyed with the 1-1 draw at the end of the day. "All in all, I think we can be happy with it," summed up Thomas Müller.
Bayern went into the first home game of 2015 focused and firmly determined to get over the 4-1 reverse at Wolfsburg. A momentary lapse of attention threw the match plan into disarray. A long punt from Schalke keeper Fabian Giefer found Sidney Sam who was only stopped by a mistimed challenge by Jérôme Boateng on 17 minutes. The Bayern central defender was shown the red card. FCB were then lucky not to go a goal down as Manuel Neuer easily kept out a weak penalty by Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.
Schalke sit back
"He always shot at the other corner in the past," revealed Neuer in the bowels of the Allianz Arena after the match, "I study penalty takers and I thought he might try something special - and I opted to go left." With success. The World's Best Goalkeeper did not have much else to do as Schalke opted to sit back in spite of having an extra man on the park.
"It was a big surprise," said Müller, "we had to adapt and it obviously wasn't that easy going forward, above all with ten players." And Robben declared: "They didn't really play football." And the opening goal from the Dutchman, his eleventh of the season, was well deserved. It was a pity that Schalke's Benedikt Höwedes hit straight back with an equaliser on 72 minutes, also from a corner.
Better now than later
"Our performance was much better than against Wolfsburg," said Guardiola. FCB skipper Bastian Schweinsteiger identified "more control" in this game: Schalke hardly had any chances on the break. Müller said: "We need to carry on in the same way. We'll get back to winning ways if we play like that." And Robben demanded: "We've got to be critical but realistic. We wanted to make a new start today but what can you do when you have to play with ten men after 15 minutes?"
"A point isn't bad today," agreed Dante. FC Bayern remain eight points clear at the top of the table as second-placed Wolfsburg could only manage a draw at Frankfurt. Everybody at the club is looking to clock up the first win of the second half of the season at VfB Stuttgart on Saturday. "We're on the right track," continued Dante. His team-mate Lewandowski added: "That's football for you. It's impossible to play at your best for a whole season and win every game easily. It's better to make one or two mistakes now rather than later."