Created on 2016-03-12 at 20:19 PM ???article.detail.author.by??? Chris Hamley
Bayern go into Wednesday’s do-or-die Champions League Round of 16 return against Juventus on the back of a big and morale-boosting win following Saturday’s convincing 5-0 Bundesliga victory over Werder Bremen in the 100th top flight meeting between the long-term north-south rivals.
The 75,000 full house at the Allianz Arena saw Thiago hand Pep Guardiola’s dominant team a ninth-minute lead, with Thomas Müller doubling the advantage just after the half-hour. The Germany ace completed his brace after 65 minutes and moved onto 19 league goals for the season, with sub Robert Lewandowski scoring a fourth and Thiago adding the fifth at the end as the league leaders eased to a comfortable and utterly merited success.
A 21st win in 26 matches takes the Reds up to 66 points, now eight ahead of second-placed Dortmund prior to the black-and-yellows’ meeting with Mainz on Sunday. Following the midweek showdown with Juve, the Bavarians are back in league action next Saturday away to FC Köln.
Pep rotates, start for Götze
Bayern boss Guardiola made five changes to the team that drew away to BVB last weekend, with Mehdi Benatia, Thiago, Franck Ribery, Kingsley Coman and Mario Götze coming into the starting line-up. Of the men they replaced, Juan Bernat, Arturo Vidal, Douglas Costa and Lewandowski began on the bench, with Arjen Robben awarded a complete rest.
The league leaders lined up with Manuel Neuer in goal, David Alaba, Benatia, Joshua Kimmich and skipper Philipp Lahm in the back four, Xabi Alonso in the holding role with Thiago ahead of him, Ribery and Coman on the flanks, and Götze and Müller up front.
The big disappointment for the visitors was the absence of in-form Claudio Pizarro with a groin strain, although the Bremen and Munich icon still made the trip to the Arena under his own steam and took a seat in the stands.
Two up at the break
After referee Guido Winkmann whistled play underway, the Reds roared off the blocks and took the lead in the ninth minute, Coman sprinting clear of Levin Öztunali on the right and crossing into the centre, where Götze failed to connect but Thiago was on hand to apply a close-range finish.
Both Müller and Coman came within inches of doubling the lead on the quarter-hour, with Götze drawing a fine fingertip save from Werder keeper Felix Wiedwald, and Müller forced wide as he shaped to slot home on the half-hour.
The Germany striker rapidly made amends with a trademark flicked finish at the near post to double the score from another superb Coman burst and cut-back after 31 minutes. The men in red kept coming with Wiedwald saving smartly from Thiago and Ribery heading the final chance of a one-sided half over the bar.
Thomas and Thiago on target
The league leaders set off into the second half with intent and Thiago rattled the crossbar with a rising drive on 48 minutes and Wiedwald saved at the near post from Götze, before Sebastian Rode took over from the World Cup winner. Coman shot straight at the Werder keeper from Lahm’s reverse pass, but the Reds made it three in the 65th minute when Wiedwald could only parry Ribery’s blistering volley from Thiago’s corner, Müller keeping his cool to net the rebound from six yards out.
Lewandowski replaced the two-goal man for the final 15 minutes, but it was Ribery who looked odds-on to make it four when he charged clear on the break only to be hauled down on the edge of the box by sub Ulisses Garcia, who was yellow carded for his trouble.
It mattered little in the end as the Reds finished strongly, Lewandowski capitalising on a howler by Galvez to make it four and Thiago turning home another fine Coman lay-off with the last kick to ensure Guardiola’s side took another crucial step towards a fourth Bundesliga crown on the bounce.
Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley