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VfL Stuttgart 0 Bayern 2

Solid Bayern return to winning ways

FC Bayern posted a first win since the Bundesliga’s winter break with a fully merited 2-0 success away to southern rivals VfB Stuttgart on Saturday afternoon. The victory means Pep Guardiola’s team retain their eight-point lead at the top of the standings over VfL Wolfsburg, 3-0 winners at home to Hoffenheim.

In a dour first half at the Mercedes Arena in Stuttgart, Arjen Robben provided the highlight moment with his 12th league goal of the season on 41 minutes. Against the entirely negative home team, Bayern showed a shade more determination after the break and David Alaba netted a stunning 51st-minute direct free-kick to give his side the necessary breathing space. The FCB rearguard stood firm for the rest of the match and the visitors closed out the win without undue difficulty.

Two changes for FCB

Guardiola switched two positions in the line-up compared to the match against Schalke: Dante played from the beginning this time, replacing the suspended Jérôme Boateng. In attack Robert Lewandowski rotated back into the line-up as Thomas Müller was handed a rest. For the most part Mehdi Benatia and Dante formed the backbone of the back four, but Xabi Alonso joined them when FCB were in possession. Wing backs Juan Bernat and Mitchell Weiser took on very attack-oriented roles.

The play

In the first half the Reds clearly dominated the match with 80 percent of the possession. However, the German record champions did not get any clear scoring chances as the Swabians were very disciplined in their defence. Stuttgart's Gotoku Sakai had the best chance, hitting the post from 20 metres after a counterattack in the 28th minute.

Subsequently the Bayern fans were treated to another brilliant move by Arjen Robben: the Dutchman was brought into the action by Weiser's excellent pass into the box and crashed the ball into the net with his powerful left foot over VfB keeper Sven Ulreich. The Reds cheered – and went into the halftime break with a valuable lead.

Guardiola fielded Müller for the second half – and FCB improved. The ball rotated through their lines more fluently, with Stuttgart forced to expend energy chasing the game. A lovely free kick by Alaba six minutes after the restart doubled the lead and put the Reds into a match-winning position. Subsequently the Bavarians were in total control and with a little more luck in front of goal the victory could even have been more decisive by the end.

The highlights

First half:

28th minute: A let-off! VfB counter-attack. Sakai hits the post from 20 yards.
41st minute: Goal! Weiser passes to Robben who nets from the right with his left foot. What a goal!

Second half:

51st minute: A spectacular restart! After a foul on Robben Bayern are awarded a free kick from 25 yards. Alaba takes the responsibility, spectacularly smashing the ball into the net: 2-0!
74th minute: After a corner kick by Alonso, Lewandowski takes a shot from 12 yards – into the Swabian sunset!
81st minute: Lewandowski in front of Ulreich, unchallenged. He cannot get the ball past the Stuttgart keeper.

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