FC Bayern convincingly beat Schalke on Tuesday evening to return to the top of the overnight Bundesliga table. Robert Lewandowski put the Bavarians in front, converting a penalty after 25 minutes, with James doubling the lead before the half-hour. Schalke looked to pull one back after the restart, but Arturo Vidal closed out the game with a quarter-hour to go.
Bayern started with Sven Ulreich in goal and Joshua Kimmich, Javi Martínez, Niklas Süle and Rafinha in a back four. Corentin Tolisso and Sebastian Rudy anchored a midfield featuring Thiago in the playmaking role, with captain Thomas Müller, Lewandowski and James in a potent attacking trident.
Carlo Ancelotti comprehensively shuffled his deck, making six changes to the XI that saw off Mainz on Saturday. Manuel Neuer, sidelined with a foot injury, gave way to Sven Ulreich between the sticks. Martínez and Süle replaced Mats Hummels and Jérôme Boateng in defence, with Rudy, Tolisso and James coming on for Thiago, Vidal and Arjen Robben.
Lewy and James set Bayern on their way
The 62,271 capacity crowd at Gelsenkirchen's Veltins Arena saw the German record champions signal their intent from the off, but the hard-running home side put up dogged resistance. Schalke keeper Ralf Fährmann saved a Martínez header before proving equal to a Rudy effort from distance. The Ruhr valley outfit had the ball in the back of the net after 20 minutes, but Burgstaller's goal was disallowed for offside.
Schalke's effort was undone when Bayern were awarded a penalty for handball, Lewandowski proving a cool customer from the spot after 25 minutes. Bayern were more dangerous from then onwards, shining with quick, vertical play. James soon doubled the lead when Bayern gained possession high up the pitch, Tolisso inviting the Colombian to strike home from 12 yards.
Schalke pressure before Arturo twists the knife
Proceedings were different after the restart. Schalke upped the pressure, with Munich increasingly content to contain their opponents, although Müller's header from a James cross struck the post. Schalke had a couple of half-chances, Leon Goretzka and Yevhen Konoplyanka miscuing their finishes before Fährmann denied Coman.
Ancelotti played his first card after the hour mark, Thiago coming on for Lewandowski in an effort to fortify Bayern's midfield, but Burgstaller soon raced clear, drawing a fine save from Ulreich. Ancelotti's troops survived the spell of Schalke pressure, and their superior fitness began to show after 70 minutes, when Vidal replaced Tolisso. The Bavarians set up sustained passing combinations again, completely dominating the match but appearing toothless in attack.
That's what Schalke thought as Bayern lulled them with their passing game, but James shone with a brilliantly perceptive pass to Vidal, who ghosted past the rearguard to crash the ball into the top corner of the net on the volley. The pace then dropped significantly now, with Hummels replacing Martínez. A Müller cross found James in the box but Fährmann stood out with a strong save in the dying embers of the match, and match official Marco Fritz blew for full-time.
The result means Bayern have 12 points from five Bundesliga matches, topping the table overnight. The Reds entertain Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga just three days from now before travelling to face Paris Saint-Germain in a mouth-watering Champions League clash next Wednesday.
Live match report for fcbayern.com by Greg Salmen
FC Schalke 04 - FC Bayern 0-3 (H-T: 0-2)
FC Schalke 04
Fährmann - Kehrer, Naldo, Nastasic - Caligiuri, McKennie (Embolo 58), Oczipka - Goretzka - Harit (Konoplyanka 46), Konopljanka - Burgstaller (di Santo 78)
Nübel, Coke, Meyer, Stambouli
Ulreich - Kimmich, Martínez (Hummels 77), Süle, Rafinha - Rudy, Tolisso (Vidal 69) - James, Müller, Coman - Lewandowski (Thiago 65)
Früchtl, Friedl, Boateng, Ribéry
Marco Fritz (Korb)
0-1 Lewandowski (25, pen), 0-2 James (29), 0-3 Vidal (75)
Embolo / Thiago