FCB remain on form after international break
FC Bayern were satisfied on their way back to Munich after the hard-fought but deserved 3-1 victory over Schalke 04: they continued their unbeaten streak, extended their lead in the table and had a successful dress rehearsal before Tuesday's latest Champions League encounter. After the 12th Bundesliga victory in 13 matches the Reds have yet to be beaten in the domestic league and are eight points clear at the top.
"It was difficult to win here, but we succeeded. All credit to my team," commented coach Pep Guardiola after the match in front of a 61,723 capacity crowd at the Veltins Arena, "it was a big win for us." FCB took three points for the 12th time in a row after an international break. The German record champions could seal a spot in the Champions League Round of 16 with another victory in their last group stage home match against Olympiacos on Tuesday.
Schalke parked the bus
"You have to work hard for every single victory in the Bundesliga. Our opponents try everything, so we have to give 100 percent in every match," explained Thomas Müller, who rounded off an intense match by making it 3-1 in injury time. Schalke, now winless in seven, relied on a compact 5-4-1 formation and occasional counter-attacks, like so many opponents before them.
"Our opponents make it difficult for us, the back five is quite popular at the moment," commented Müller on the hosts' defensive tactics, adding with a grin: "They tried to park the bus in their own box. But we've worked hard to have teams try that against us." It was a promising start for Bayern as David Alaba put them into the lead with his first goal of the campaign nine minutes into the contest.
Martínez' first goal after 917 days
But Schalke were unmoved by the setback and were rewarded for their tenacity when Max Meyer scored the equaliser shortly afterwards (17). "The shot was tricky, but I had to save it," commented Manuel Neuer at his old stomping ground, unhappy with himself for not dealing with the youngster's bouncing shot. "The wet turf sped up the ball. I wanted to turn it round the post -- it didn't work."
Subsequently FCB struggled against the disciplined Royal Blues, who successfully kept the German record champions at bay -- until the 69th minute, when centre-back Javi Martínez put the visitors back into the lead with a header. It was a relief, not only for Bayern, but especially for the Spaniard, who scored his last goal 917 days ago in May 2013. Müller (90+2) wrapped things up for the Reds shortly before the final whistle.
"Three more points," concluded Guardiola, who was particularly impressed by the "intensity" and "passion" his team put in over 90 minutes. "We played reasonably well," summarised Müller. After the many sad events in the last week the FCB forward stressed: "It was important to play football again. It was important for the fans, for us, and for the whole league."