Created on 29-03-2014 at 17:22 PM
Bayern’s final match prior to Tuesday’s big Champions League clash with Manchester United did not quite go according to plan for Pep Guardiola’s men as the reshuffled Reds dropped league points for only the third time this season in a see-saw contest at home to Hoffenheim on Saturday. The visitors gave a good account of themselves and contributed their share to a roustabout afternoon of football in Munich that ended with the Reds not winning for the first time in 20 Bundesliga fixtures, but still stretching their unbeaten streak to 53 league games.
The 71,000 full house at the Allianz Arena saw the unfamiliar home line-up have the better of the opening exchanges but fall behind to an AnthonyModeste breakaway goal midway through the first half. Claudio Pizarro and Xherdan Shaqiri turned it round with a quickfire double strike after the half-hour and Pizza put his side 3-1 up after 40 minutes, but Sejad Salihovic pulled one back with a stunning free-kick before half-time. It was an open contest for long spells in the second half before Roberto Firmino levelled it up and earned his side a point with 15 minutes to go.
The draw takes FCB up to 78 points after 28 matches, still a yawning 23 clear of second-placed Dortmund. The Bavarians now swiftly turn their focus to the next highlight of the season, the trip to Old Trafford in the north-west of England on Tuesday night.
In advance of the European showdown Guardiola made no fewer than seven changes to the team that sealed the title in Berlin last Tuesday, with only Rafinha, Dante, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Götze retaining their places in the wholesale shakeup.
The FCB line-up on the day featured ex-Hoffenheim keeper Tom Starke in goal, Rafinha, Daniel van Buyten, Dante and Diego Contento in the back four, Schweinsteiger and Thiago in central midfield, Xherdan Shaqiri and Franck Ribery out wide, and Pizarro up front.
Hoffenheim coach Markus Gisdol, whose team were the league’s second-highest scoring on 60 goals but worst defensively with 59 conceded prior to the match, fielded a full-strength side including the likes of US international Fabian Johnson, Brazilian goal-getter Roberto Firmino and Bosnia schemer Salihovic, all seeking to supply French hitman Modeste.
Goal-laden first period
After referee Christian Dingert blew for kick-off on a beautiful spring afternoon in Munich the Reds bossed possession as normal but found clear-cut chances hard to come by. Schweinsteiger loosed off a sighter after six minutes but there was danger at the other end five minutes later when Modeste almost charged down Starke’s hasty clearance.
Pizarro twice came within an ace of connecting with Ribery centres, but just as the Reds were gaining the upper hand Kevin Volland played a long ball in behind the home defence for Modeste to hare clear and beat Starke at the second attempt, the first time the ex-TSG man had conceded for FCB. There was another worry for Munich when Thiago limped out of the action to be replaced by Lahm.
The unexpected goal against roused Munich into action and visiting keeper Jens Grahl made a good save from Pizarro, but the Peruvian was not to be denied for long and levelled it up on 31 minutes, diving to beat defender Tobias Strobl to a Shaqiri cross and loop a header over the line. The roles were reversed just 180 seconds later when Pizza chested down Rafinha’s ball into the box for Shaq to guide his shot past Grahl from six yards.
The entertainment continued unabated, Pizarro missing a gilt-edged opportunity to extend the lead when his chip cleared both Grahl and the crossbar, but the veteran made no mistake in the 40th minute with a classic close-range finish after he himself had brilliantly played in Ribery down the left channel, the Frenchman returning a fine ball to the near post.
That was still not it for the first half scoring as the visitors pulled another goal back a minute from half-time when Salihovic confirmed his reputation as one of the best set-piece specialists in the league with a stunning free-kick, curled unstoppably past Starke from fully 30 yards.
Tight second period
Mandzukic replaced Götze for the second half and Munich were on the front foot at once, Shaqiri dribbling dangerously into the box, Schweinsteiger shooting straight at Grahl and Ribery’s mazy run coming to an end in a forest of Hoffenheim legs. But the visitors bounced back with Starke forced to save from Roberto Firmino as the contest remained evenly-matched with the hour approaching.
Gisdol’s men kept it tight at the back with FCB struggling to find gaps, and Hoffenheim sensed they still had a chance. Starke saved from Vestergaard but could do nothing to stop the dangerous Roberto Firmino wriggling his way past Dante and striking a 75th-minute equaliser from just inside the box.
Guardiola reacted by sending on Arjen Robben for Ribery, and the Dutchman soon forced TSG captain Andreas Beck into a desperate goal line clearance before Grahl dived to save from Rafinha. At the other end Volland shot straight at Starke and sub Hakim Elyounoussi scooped a good chance over the bar, but Robben so nearly stole it for the Reds in the 87th minute only to see his effort turned aside by Grahl. Starke made an equally important save for FCB from Sebastian Rudy as the game ended in a draw, probably the right result on the day.
Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley