Created on 14-03-2015 at 17:21 PM
Bayern posted a ninth Bundesliga win in a row against old rivals Werder Bremen with a 4-0 success in the north of Germany on Saturday, as Pep Guardiola’s men made light of the absence of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery and overcame the high-flying home team with a blend of tactical discipline and clinical finishing. The icing on the cake was provided by Philipp Lahm’s appearance as a late sub, the captain re-entering the action for the first time since last autumn.
The 42,100 capacity crowd at the Weserstadion saw a reshaped FCB line-up endure a torrid start but gradually wrest control of the contest and take a 24th-minute lead through Thomas Müller. David Alaba doubled the lead with a terrific direct free-kick on the stroke of half-time, but it was not over yet and the action hotted up on the hour as the tackles flew and a few tempers boiled over. The league leaders kept their cool and Robert Lewandowski killed the contest with the 76th-minute third, Lahm coming on as a late sub and Lewandowski tapping in the fourth at the end as the Reds sealed another deserved victory.
A 20th win in 25 league games this season takes the Bavarians onto 64 points, 14 clear of second-placed Wolfsburg overnight, although the Wolves can cut the gap at home to struggling Freiburg on Sunday. The Reds now have a full eight days to regroup and recharge their batteries before high-flying Borussia Mönchengladbach visit the Allianz Arena on Sunday 22 March.
Four changes, first start for Pepe
Guardiola made four changes to the team that put seven without reply past Shakhtar Donetsk in midweek with Pepe Reina, Juan Bernat, Sebastian Rode and Mehdi Benatia coming into the side in place of Manuel Neuer, Ribery, Robben and Holger Badstuber. It meant a maiden competitive outing in a red shirt for Reina, the first Spanish keeper to appear in the Bundesliga and only the second non-German to take up station between the sticks in the top flight for Bayern after the legendary Jean-Marie Pfaff.
The champions started with Reina in goal, Rafinha, Jerome Boateng, Benatia and Alaba in the back four, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Rode and Bernat in midfield, and Mario Götze, Müller and Lewandowski in attack.
Thomas and David on target
The kick-off was delayed by a few minutes while referee Thorsten Kinhöfer supervised repairs to the net behind Reina, but once play got underway it was Viktor Skripnik’s fired-up home team that made the early running, Levin Öztunali and Theodor Gebre Selassie both volleying wide of Reina’s goal early on, and the backup keeper later racing from his line to deny Fin Bartels.
But FCB settled after the quarter-hour and Bremen number one Raphael Wolf twice had to look sharp against Lewandowski. Wolf initially also saved bravely from Müller after Lewandowski’s deft flick released the striker into space on 24 minutes, but the Germany man reacted superbly when the ball came loose and opened the scoring with a glorious 16-yard shot into the top left-hand corner.
The visitors clearly had the initiative now and crowned an assured first-half display with the second goal on the stroke of half-time, a brilliantly-struck Alaba free-kick from 20 yards after Sebastian Prödl had chopped down Götze a couple of yards outside the box.
Eventful second period
Lewandowski directed the first shot of the second half wide of Wolf’s far post as FCB maintained their momentum, but there was an ugly scene on the hour when Prödl clattered into Benatia, Mr Kinhöfer electing to defuse the situation by yellow-carding both men.
The incident served to raise the emotional temperature and energise the home team, Reina finger-tipping a Bartels cross-cum-shot over the bar and the same player netting only to see the goal chalked off for Prödl’s handball when the ball came into the box. It was tasty for a spell and Kinhöfer liberally distributed yellow cards, before Alaba skilfully denied Davie Selke as the youngster shaped to shoot.
FCB stayed cool and put the lid on Werder’s resistance after 76 minutes, Müller springing the offside trap and lobbing over the onrushing Wolf for Lewandowski to head the third into the empty net. Müller fired just over the bar before Lahm’s warmly-heralded appearance, as Lewandowski set the seal on a fully deserved victory with a tapped-in fourth from Müller’s lay-off at the very end.
Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley