A mesmeric performance by Arjen Robben ensured FC Bayern won their second Bundesliga match after the winter break, a 2-1 victory over Werder Bremen. The Bavarians set a new record as they won their 13th consecutive match against Werder. Robben opened the scoring with a sumptuous 20-yard drive on the half-hour, David Alaba's free-kick doubling the lead in the closing stages of the first half. Shortly after the interval Bremen forward Max Kruse pulled one back, but with no further goals to come Bayern ultimately clinched the three points.
The champions lined up with Manuel Neuer between the sticks and a back four comprising Philipp Lahm, Javi Martínez, Mats Hummels and Alaba. Xabi Alonso, Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Müller took up station in midfield, with Robben and Franck Ribéry out wide and Robert Lewandowski as the lone striker.
Carlo Ancelotti made two changes to the team that saw off Freiburg last weekend, Kimmich and Ribéry coming in for Arturo Vidal (bruised ribs) and Douglas Costa. After the hour mark Renato Sanches and Kingsley Coman replaced Müller and Robben before Costa took over from Ribéry with ten minutes to go.
Arjen and David find the net
Bremen were struggling with a lengthy injury roster, and their prospects were further diminshed early into the contest, when former FCB striker Claudio Pizarro had to be replaced with a hamstring problem.
The 42,100 capacity crowd at the Weserstadion saw Bayern dominate proceedings, but their attacks proved uninspired at first, whereas the battling hosts were dangerous on the break especially in the early stages. The champions' most promising approach was attacking down the wings via Ribéry and Robben, who were constantly looking to cut inside.
On the half-hour the French winger set up his Dutch counterpart, who blasted into the top corner of the net from the edge of the box. Robben was a menace throughout on the right wing, regularly popping up in the right place at the right time, and more often than not the hosts' rearguard had to resort to fouls to stop the Dutch ace. In the dying seconds of the first half Robben was felled 25 yards out. Up stepped David Alaba, whose sumptuous free-kick sailed into the top corner of the net via the inside of the post, leaving Werder netminder Felix Wiedwald clawing at thin air.
Kruse unleashes ripple of concern
After the interval Carlo Ancelotti's troops picked up where they left off and Ribéry soon beat Wiedwald, but his strike was ruled out for offside. Soon afterwards a Bremen counter-attack paid off, Kruse pulling one back after a neat shimmy that left Alaba rooted to the spot.
The game picked up pace now, the Reds intent on closing out the clash and Alexander Nouri's troops becoming more courageous in looking for the equaliser. Lewandowski appeared to be upended in the box, but match official Sascha Stegemann waved away Bayern's appeals. A Kruse drive went over the bar midway through the second half and a long-distance shot from Costa went wide, before Wiedwald proved equal to a Kimmich effort in the closing stages.
The result means Bayern have 45 points from 18 matches and top the league by three points from RB Leipzig, who won their home match against Hoffenheim 2-1. The Bavarians are back in action next Saturday, when they entertain Schalke in the Bundesliga.
Live match report for fcbayern.com by Gregor Salmen
Werder Bremen - FC Bayern 1-2 (H-T: 0-2)
Wiedwald - Bauer (Bartels 71), Sané, Moisander - Veljkovic - Gnabry, Junuzovic, Delaney, S. Garcia (Kainz 81) - Pizarro (Eggestein 19), Kruse
Zetterer - Gebre Selassie, U. Garcia, Manneh
Neuer - Lahm, Martínez, Hummels, Alaba - Alonso, Kimmich - Robben (Coman 66), Müller (Sanches 62), Ribéry (Costa 79) - Lewandowski
Ulreich - Rafinha, Bernat, Friedl
Sascha Stegemann (Niederkassel)
0-1 Robben (31), 0-2 Alaba (45+1), 1-2 Kruse (53)
Bauer (42), Garcia (72), Junuzovic (75) / Coman (90+3)