Returning players impress on comebacks
Many players say that they will work hard after injuries and come back stronger, and a number of FC Bayern players showed they have done that with their performances in the 3-1 win over Hannover. Indeed, five players came back into the fold for FCB on matchday 14 after short or long-term injury lay-offs. David Alaba and Franck Ribery made only brief appearances, but they were still over the moon.
"It didn't matter how many minutes I played today, the important thing was to be back with the team," said a thrilled Ribery, who was welcomed back onto the pitch with a standing ovation, and also a new club record. Before their introductions, the left-sided pair were able to watch the impressive performances of Rafinha, Kingsley Coman and Thomas Müller on their return to the starting XI.
Mad few minutes in Munich
Leading the way on that front was Müller, who had been out for the longest time after Ribery, but announced his return with two assists. His inch-perfect cross found Arturo Vidal at the far post in the 17th minute for the Chilean to open the scoring, and in the 67th minute his ball into the box found Coman, who one again restored Bayern's lead. In between those goals, Charlison Benschop had equalised for the visitors before half-time after the most remarkable spell of play in the game, which also saw the FCB captain involved again.
Müller's pass teed up Robert Lewandowski inside the six-yard box to seemingly double Bayern's lead to 2-0. However, the officials eventually ruled this goal out after lengthy discussions with the video assistants in Cologne. "It was a bit odd, but the correct decision in the end. It was just offside," Müller admitted after the game. Only seconds later, Hannover were awarded a penalty. "It's mad. You feel like you've just gone 2-0 ahead, then it's chalked off, a long ball over the top and there's a penalty against you that can lead to an equaliser," the World Cup winner continued.
FCB prevail through savvy play
The action didn't end there, though, as the penalty had to be retaken after too many players encroached into the penalty area. However, the Niclas Füllkrug's second attempt was saved by Sven Ulreich to maintain Bayern's lead – at least for the time being, as Benschop's header not long after made it 1-1 going into the break. Unperturbed by that, the record champions flew out of the blocks following half-time and fired off nine attempts on goal in the opening nine minutes.
Müller was looking his usual self in his Raumdeuter role and was involved more than any other player, in fact setting up more efforts on goal than anyone else alongside James. "He was the stimulating element in our game and showed a great desire to perform," said a pleased Jupp Heynckes when asked about his forward, and there was also further praise from other teammates: "Thomas is unbelievably important with the runs he makes. He creates movement in our game. He's a lot less static out on the pitch," said Mats Hummels.
Still personal work to do
Perhaps the only element lacking from his game was a goal, as Müller himself had good chances to get his name on the scoresheet. "I have to work on being a bit more selfish," the Germany international said with a grin after the game, before adding, "But on the whole, I'm not displeased." This should apply to all Bayern players after an impressive team performance, which was rounded off shortly before the end with a Lewandowski penalty for a deserved 3-1 victory.
The result sees FCB extend their lead at the top of the table to six points ahead of RB Leipzig, and also boost confidence ahead of Tuesday's Champions League crunch match against Paris Saint-Germain. "We want to show a different side to ourselves compared to the first meeting," said Sven Ulreich after the 3-0 loss in September. Bayern have shown that they can come back strong and want to prove that in Europe this coming week.