Focused Bayern aim to 'keep on going'
FC Bayern extended their winning streak and their lead at the top of the standings, and took another step towards a sixth German championship title in a row on Saturday when they beat FSV Mainz 2-0. The victory away to the side lying 15th in the table was the champions' eighth consecutive league win. Their cushion at the top of the standings has grown to a minimum of 17 points, so their 28th championship title is surely only a matter of time.
"It's not going to be really exciting, we're too focused for that, week after week, and we want to keep on going," said captain Thomas Müller after the final whistle at the Opel Arena. Mats Hummels, who made his first appearance after the winter break in front of the 34,000 capacity crowd, added: "Looking at our comfortable lead and the other teams' lack of consistency it would be quite a miracle if we missed out on it."
However, the 17th victory in the 21st match was hard work for Jupp Heynckes' men. "It certainly wasn't easy to stick to our play, especially on that pitch," admitted David Alaba. Bayern struggled against the hard-running hosts for long spells.
"You always think these matches are easy for FC Bayern. You saw once again that teams rise above themselves when they're up against us, they're incredibly hard-running and committed and also play well at times," said Heynckes, who shuffled his deck, making seven changes to the XI that saw off Hoffenheim last weekend. It needed masterstrokes by Franck Ribéry and James before half-time for Bayern to take the lead.
Too many missed chances
"Those were beautiful goals," said Müller, delighted with three points after an "at times hard-fought match." FCB could have closed out the meeting early after the restart but were not resolute enough in front of goal. "Basically we should have scored more goals," admitted Müller.
"We had five or six gilt-edged chances after the break. If we'd taken them we could have easily run down the clock," said Heynckes. Mainz got a grip on the contest in the second half, creating presentable chances. "We were sloppy and not attentive enough. But Mainz played well too, and we were under pressure," added Heynckes.
"We made it a bit exciting towards the end," said keeper Sven Ulreich, who kept a clean sheet, making strong saves to seal an "ultimately deserved victory" (Heynckes). FCB are back in action on Tuesday, when they travel to face third division league leaders SC Paderborn in the DFB Cup quarter-finals. "We mustn't underestimate Paderborn, the match will be about as hard-fought as the one today. We'll have to be prepared," warned Sebastian Rudy.