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Werder Bremen 0 Bayern 1

Record-breaking FCB post ninth straight win

Despite a long injury roster, Bayern go into Tuesday’s Champions League trip to Arsenal on the crest of a wave after setting a new Bundesliga record with a ninth straight win since the start of the season, Saturday’s tight but merited 1-0 success away to old rivals Werder Bremen.

The 41,000 capacity crowd at the Weser Stadion saw the champions dominate from the off and take a 23rd-minute lead through Thomas Müller, although the home team resisted stoutly and clear-cut openings proved hard to come by. The visitors piled on the pressure after the break but a string of chances went begging and FCB were ultimately grateful to Manuel Neuer for two crucial saves as Bremen staged a late but ultimately futile rally.

The result means the Reds maintain their grip on top spot in the standings on the maximum 27 points, seven clear of second-placed Dortmund and eight ahead of Schalke in third. The Bavarians are back in action three days from now against the Gunners at the Emirates Stadium in north London, before the league clash with high-flying FC Köln at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

Kirchhoff among the subs

Pep Guardiola made three changes to the team that cruised to a 5-1 victory over Dortmund last time out, with Juan Bernat, Rafinha and Arturo Vidal taking over from Douglas Costa and Javi Martinez, who both started among the subs, and long-term injury victim Mario Götze.

With Kingsley Coman, Franck Ribéry, Mehdi Benatia, Sebastian Rode, Arjen Robben and Holger Badstuber also not match fit, the bench featured a couple of less familiar names including reserve forwards Milos Pantovic and Gianluca Gaudino, but also the welcome sight of Jan Kirchhoff in his first squad appearance since returning to the club last summer.

The champions began with Manual Neuer in goal behind a back four of Rafinha, Jerome Boateng, David Alaba and Bernat, with Xabi Alonso in the holding role, captain Philipp Lahm and Thiago in central midfield, and an attacking unit comprising Müller, Vidal and Robert Lewandowski.

Müller breaks the deadlock

Right from the moment referee Christian Dingert whistled the match underway, Guardiola’s men dominated the play and mounted a string of menacing attacks, although Neuer was obliged to deal with the first chance of note when Melvyn Lorenzen fired goalwards on a rare Bremen foray.

FCB raised the tempo midway through the first half and Lewandowski fired into the side-netting, but the Reds had the lead on 23 minutes when Thiago expertly picked out Müller’s superbly-timed run between the Werder centre-backs, the Germany striker taking a neat touch to control before slipping home his ninth league goal of term.

Munich continued to boss some 80 percent of the possession but the home team defended with vigour and the best chances for Lahm and Co before the break were Bernat’s deflected shot and Alonso’s header straight at home keeper Felix Wiedwald. 

Action-packed second half

Wiedwald also saved the first chance of the second half when Müller tried his luck from an angle and the FCB hitman came close in the 50th minute with a near-post flick from Bernat’s centre, before Lewandowski directed a header too close to the home shot-stopper. Both the Polish marksman and Vidal were thwarted by last-ditch lunges as the league leaders closed in on a second goal, but Werder skipper Philipp Bargfrede performed another defensive miracle to deny Lewandowski again just after the hour mark.

Buoyed by the let-off, Bremen briefly rallied and Neuer was forced into a great reaction save when the ball fell to Anthony Ujah just a few yards out, but there was a controversial incident at the other end when Wiedwald claimed at Lewandowski’s feet, the keeper seeking to play the man before the ball.

Werder kept at it and Ujah dragged a shot across the face of the Bayern goal, before ex-FCB man Claudio Pizarro replaced Clemens Fritz for the home team and Joshua Kimmich took over for Rafinha for the visitors. It was end-to-end stuff in the frantic closing stages with Thiago coming close to adding a second, but at the final whistle the score remained 1-0 to the champions.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley