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Bayern 5 Werder Bremen 2

Resurgent Reds brush aside Bremen

The cries of ‘Super Bayern’ rang out again on Saturday as the resurgent Reds rattled up a confidence-boosting victory over perennial rivals Werder Bremen in the build-up to Tuesday’s win-or-bust Champions League showdown at home to Real Madrid. Munich had only won three of their last eight matches but the stirring comeback victory over Werder was just the tonic Pep Guardiola’s men needed prior to the crunch meeting with Real.

The 71,000 full house at the Allianz Arena saw Theodor Gebre Selassie and Franck Ribery trade goals in the first 20 minutes, but just as Munich were hitting their stride Aaron Hunt restored the visitors’ lead on the break after 36 minutes. The men in red came out fighting for the second half, sweeping their opponents aside with a quickfire Claudio Pizarro brace against his old club and a Bastian Schweinsteiger header. Arjen Robben made it 5-2 just 40 seconds after coming on as a 73rd-minute sub as the champions coasted to a fully deserved victory.

A 27th win from 32 matches this term takes FCB onto 84 points, 20 clear of Dortmund with BVB away to Leverkusen in the evening. The Bavarians are back in action just three days from now in the do-or-die contest against Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema and Co with a place in the Champions League final for the aggregate winners.

Five new faces for FCB

With more than half an eye on Tuesday’s clash, Bayern coach Pep Guardiola made five team changes, with Mario Götze, Javi Martinez, Thomas Müller, Pizarro and Mitchell Weiser coming in for Toni Kroos, Philipp Lahm, Mario Mandzukic, Robben and Rafinha.

The Reds’ starting line-up featured Manuel Neuer in goal, Weiser, Jerome Boateng, Dante and David Alaba in the back four, Martinez and captain for the day Schweinsteiger in central midfield, Götze and Ribery out wide, and Müller in behind centre-forward Pizarro.

Robin Dutt’s Werder line-up was spearheaded by Argentine hitman Franco di Santo and included ex-FCB striker Nils Petersen among the subs, with Toni Kroos’ younger brother Felix also on the bench.

Werder deadly on the break

After referee Guido Winkmann brought to an end a minute’s silence in memory of former Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova, who died yesterday at the age of 45, FCB hogged possession from the kick-off and pegged their opponents back into the final third. However, there was bite in Bremen’s tackling and Dutt’s men struck clinically on the break after ten minutes, Cedrick Makiadi angling a pass behind Boateng for Czech international Gebre Selassie to thump unstoppably past Neuer.

Pizarro launched the fightback with an angled drive just past the far post, and it was the former Bremen stalwart who provided the slide-rule assist for Ribery to advance into the box and slip the ball through keeper Raphael Wolf’s legs for the 20th-minute equaliser.

Schweinsteiger and Pizarro both aimed just too high and Boateng drew a reaction save from Wolf as the home team pressed for a second, with the Bremen keeper saving at Götze’s feet and visiting skipper Clemens Fritz acrobatically clearing Pizarro’s delicate chip off the line following an intricate interchange between Ribery and Müller.

But out of the blue Di Santo skilfully released Hunt with a crossfield pass on 36 minutes, the three-time Germany international keeping his balance and his cool to sidestep Boateng and stroke home inside the far post. Santiago Garcia even had the ball in the net again before half-time, but the Werder full-back was flagged offside and the sides turned round with the score 2-1 to the visitors.

Whirlwind second half

With Lahm on for Weiser after the restart, Wolf saved from Götze as the men in red kicked on, and Pizarro duly tucked away the 54th-minute equaliser at the back stick after Müller applied a flick to Ribery’s outswinging corner. Pizza had the bit between his teeth now and handed his side the lead for the first time just three minutes later with another close-range finish after Ribery brilliantly released Alaba in the box for a simple lay-off.

Wolf made a superb save to deny Martinez, but Guardiola’s men were in full flow now and Schweinsteiger made it 4-2 in the 61st minute with a powerful header from Lahm’s pinpoint cross. It was all FCB now, Wolf again saving well from Martinez and then Ribery, and Pizarro heading over from practically under the crossbar, before Neuer saved comfortably from Junuzovic on a rare Werder foray.

Robben replaced Dante for the last 20 minutes, with Martinez reverting to centre-back, and the Dutch superstar had not been on the pitch a minute before he dribbled across the face of the box and lashed home the fifth with a superbly-placed left-foot shot. FCB were still not done, Luca Caldirola just deflecting a Ribery drive away to safety and Müller looping a header onto the crossbar from Robben’s corner, before Mr Winkmann whistled for time on an entertaining Munich victory.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley