Created on 05-11-2014 at 22:21 PM
Bayern have become the first German club to win a Champions League group with two games to spare after a patient and deserved 2-0 victory at home to AS Roma on Wednesday evening, ensuring the Reds cannot be denied top spot in Group E whatever the results in the remaining fixtures. There were no fireworks this time but it was still a supremely assured display as FCB stretched their unbeaten run to 16 games, 13 of them ending in victory.
The 68,000 full house at the Allianz Arena saw Pep Guardiola’s side dominate from the off but initially struggle to create openings against their uncharacteristically defensive opponents. However, FCB patiently prodded and probed and were rewarded with Franck Ribery’s well-worked opener on 38 minutes. Mario Götze made it two after 64 minutes to effectively seal the historic victory with a third of the game still to play, as the Bundesliga leaders maintained their focus through to the finish.
The win means FCB have the maximum 12 points from four matches and have booked their coveted place in Pot 1 for December’s last sixteen draw. The Bavarians travel to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga on Saturday before the action at club level takes a back seat for a two-week international break.
Robben ruled out on matchday
Pep Guardiola made two changes to the team that edged past Dortmund 2-1 last Saturday, one of them enforced: Arjen Robben was a late withdrawal from the matchday squad with a stomach upset and handed over to Ribery, while Rafinha replaced Thomas Müller, who began on the bench.
It meant the Reds started with Manuel Neuer in goal, Mehdi Benatia, Jerome Boateng and David Alaba in defence, Xabi Alonso and Philipp Lahm in classic holding roles, in-form Juan Bernat and Rafinha in wide midfield positions, and a forward line of Götze, Robert Lewandowski and Ribery.
Roma’s French coach Rudi Garcia opted to field Lukasz Skorupski in goal in place of regular keeper Morgan de Sanctis, with three further changes compared to a 2-0 Serie A defeat to Napoli on Saturday, Daniele de Rossi, Mattia Destro and Juan Iturbe taking over from Miralem Pjanic, the legendary Francesco Totti and Gervinho.
Deserved half-time lead
After Turkish referee Cüneyt Cakir whistled play underway, Bayern eased into their familiar possession-based football against the deep-lying visitors, whose game plan patently centred on avoiding another humiliation like the 7-1 thrashing in Rome two weeks ago. And Garcia’s men did their job well for the first quarter of an hour with no shots worthy of the name in that time.
But after Bernat saw a goalbound effort blocked by Vassilis Torosidis with 17 minutes played, the men from Munich slowly but surely picked up speed and chances began to come: Skorupski spilled Götze’s 22nd minute shot but safely collected Lahm’s drive two minutes later, Bernat’s attempted cross was deflected for a corner, and Alaba chipped a free-kick just past the far stick before failing to get full purchase on a daisy-cutter.
The first goal felt like it was coming, and when it did it was a beauty: Ribery released Alaba behind the defence, and the Austrian hared to the by-line before supplying the perfect reverse pass for Ribery to side-foot the 38th-minute opener in off the foot of post, handing Munich a valuable half-time lead.
Götze seals historic win
The pattern of the match remained much the same after the restart with the home side making all the running. Bernat lashed just wide of the near post, Alaba popped up in the centre-forward position after 52 minutes but directed a header too high, Bernat had a decent shout for a penalty waved aside, and Benatia was unable to direct the ball over the line after Skorupski flapped horribly at a cross.
Munich stuck to the task and doubled their lead on 64 minutes when Lewandowski brilliantly turned his man and squared from the right for Götze to produce an unconventional but effective finish, the striker gently flipping the ball over Skorupski from close range and into the corner of the net.
Lahm blazed wide from Alaba’s superb pass and Ribery fired over from Götze’s lay-off before Xherdan Shaqiri replaced Alonso with just under 20 minutes to go, and Sebastian Rode took over from the excellent Alaba for the closing stages. The Italians finally had a crack at Neuer’s goal after 83 minutes but the FCB keeper denied sub Gervinho with his feet and superbly beat aside Nainggolan’s follow-up. Lahm gave way to Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg at the end before Mr Cakir whistled for the end of a one-sided but still record-setting contest.
Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley