Bayern happy with 'big cushion'
65 minutes into FC Bayern's home game against Eintracht Frankfurt the Allianz Arena crowd was gripped by the moment of the match. Frankfurt captain Marco Russ celebrated his return to the Bundesliga after being sidelined for 311 days due to cancer. Seconds later, World Cup winner Jérôme Boateng came off the bench after 108 days out injured. The two players were greeted with standing ovations from the 75,000 fans at the ground.
The result of the match between the record champions and the team from Frankfurt was already certain at this point. Robert Lewandowski (38') and Douglas Costa (41') put FCB ahead with a double whammy just before half-time and Lewandowski netted his 21st goal of the season on 55 minutes to seal a 3-0 victory. The 18th win in the current campaign sees Bayern extend the lead over second-placed RB Leipzig at the top of the table.
Unbeaten in 18 games
"A ten-point lead over the team in second is obviously a big cushion," said captain Philipp Lahm after a "brilliant weekend for us." Both Leipzig and third-placed Borussia Dortmund lost their games and FCB have taken a big step forward towards a fifth title win in succession. "There's still a long way to go in the season but April will be very interesting so it's always good to look at the table when you've got a small cushion," said Thomas Müller.
In spite of all the joy at recent success there is a reason for the self-criticism Bayern. Above all in the first 30 minutes, the "aggressive and hard-tackling" Frankfurt team (Manuel Neuer) caused problems for FCB. "We completely lacked focus and gave the ball away a lot in our own half. We can be happy we didn't go behind," explained Lahm. The 2-0 lead did not "reflect the game."
Bayern ruthless in front of goal
"Frankfurt played better than we did. They had the better chances and we made a lot of mistakes," said coach Carlo Ancelotti after the game. "To be honest, they didn't deserve to be 2-0 down at the break." Bayern profited from Frankfurt's inability to convert their chances and FCB's own efficiency and individual quality in front of the opposition goal. "Of course, we then showed our class and that put us in the lead at half-time," said Lahm. "We were ruthless up front."
The record champions realise intensity and concentration levels must remain high in spite of the impressive run of 18 games unbeaten (Neuer: "We're on a roll"). "It was a great matchday for us but we didn't play well enough to be on cloud nine. We're well aware we have to keep on working hard," said Müller. And Lahm warned: "We have some very, very difficult games ahead. But we shouldn't throw away a ten-point lead."