- 33' Franck Ribéry
- 44' James Rodríguez
- 33' Franck Ribéry
- 44' James Rodríguez
FC Bayern took the next step on their way to a sixth German championship title on the bounce on Saturday afternoon, beating FSV Mainz 2-0. Franck Ribéry set the Bavarians on their way after the half-hour, James doubling the lead before the interval. The second half proved a wonderfully entertaining affair but yielded no further goals.
Bayern started with Sven Ulreich between the sticks and Rafinha, Jérôme Boateng, Mats Hummels and Juan Bernat in a back four. Sebastian Rudy and Corentin Tolisso featured in a twin holding role behind Thomas Müller, James and Ribéry, with Sandro Wagner as an orthodox centre-forward.
Jupp Heynckes comprehensively shuffled his deck, making seven changes to the XI that saw off Hoffenheim last weekend. Rafinha, Hummels and Bernat took over from Joshua Kimmich, Niklas Süle and David Alaba in defence, while Müller, James, Ribéry and Wagner replaced Arturo Vidal, Arjen Robben, Kingsley Coman and Robert Lewandowski. The Poland international, Alaba and Coman came on for Wagner, Rudy and Ribéry in the second half.
Ruthless Ribéry, sparkling James
The 34,000 capacity crowd at the Opel Arena saw an open and entertaining contest between two attack-minded sides. Tolisso's effort from long distance skidded wide before the very industrious Frenchman took aim for a second time, the ball flying just over the bar. Mainz midfielder Alexandru Maxim cut inside at the other end, his curler going wide. Bayern drew first blood when a corner was cleared but Ribéry was on hand at the edge of Mainz' box. The Frenchman smashed a volley into the far corner of the net after the half-hour.
Bayern soon had the away faithful on their feet for a second time, and the champions put all their individual quality into the making. Tolisso whipped in a highly perceptive pinpoint cross that found James. The Colombian brilliantly cushioned the ball with his chest and crashed home before match official Sören Storks blew for half-time.
Scorching heat in wintry weather
The pace was stunning after the restart, with gilt-edged chances at either end. Mainz netminder Robin Zentner proved equal to a Wagner effort before Bayern shone with fine combinations in and around the hosts' box, but two Tolisso efforts were blocked. Sandro Schwarz' troops went looking for a reply now, and there was danger in the Bayern box following a stray pass by Ulreich, but the keeper immediately atoned for the mishap when he made a strong save against Mainz sub Robin Quaison.
The visitors staged a counter, and Ribéry had only Zentner to beat thanks to Tolisso's fine pass, but the angle was too tight for the Frenchman after he tried to round the keeper. Ulreich soon beat Yoshinori Muto to a dangerous throughball before Mats Hummels cleared Abdou Diallo's shot off the line.
Tolisso sprayed another fine pass to tee up the charging Müller, but the native Bavarian miscued his effort. A Quaison effort went just wide before Zentner denied a deflected James shot. Mainz did have the ball in the back of the net when Muto tapped in a rebound, but the linesman's flag was raised for Quaison's initial effort, and Storks blew for full-time.
The result means Bayern have 53 points from 21 Bundesliga matches, 18 points clear of Leverkusen before Frankfurt cross swords with Augsburg on Sunday. The Reds are back in action in just three days, when they travel to face Paderborn in the cup before entertaining Schalke in the Bundesliga next Saturday.
Live match report for fcbayern.com by Greg Salmen
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FSV Mainz 05
Zentner - Donati, Bell, Hack, Diallo - Öztunali (Quaison 46), Gbamin, Latza, Holtmann (Berggreen 73) - Maxim (Serdar 57) - Muto
Müller, De Jong, Brosinski, Ujah
Ulreich - Rafinha, Boateng, Hummels, Bernat - Rudy (Alaba 70), Tolisso - Müller, James, Ribéry (Coman 82) - Wagner (Lewandowski 63)
Starke, Süle, Robben, Kimmich
Sören Storks (Velen)
0-1 Ribéry (33), 0-2 James (44)
- / Rudy, Wagner, Boateng