Just when the mistakes, infighting, the blown chances get you really angry about where the club is headed, FC Bayern can put it all together and show why they’re still among the world’s greatest teams. Today was a good example, as we shoved aside a solid Schalke 04 club with a 4-1 win. The margin could have been even bigger, as Bayern’s forwards were in control all day, and Schalke never looked threatening on the other end. Combined with the ‘Glachbach Foals picking up a stunning win over Hannover, we’re now in the third and final Champions League spot for next year, with a great chance to close out the year on a high note.
From the first minute, Bayern looked like the more dangerous side. Robben has crammed a career’s worth of himself into 8 days – missing a game due to suspension, creating conflict by mouthing off to the media, and then helping the team with a goal and a number of threatening runs. Basically, that’s the trade off: if you put up with the attitude and the possibility that he isn’t going to play every game, the pay-off is that he’ll be one of the most creative, most dangerous wings in the world, a guy who can create chances and score goals even against the best defenses.
But I thought the player of the day was Muller – Schalke clearly had no answer for him, and he seems to be regaining some of that world-class form he showed last year (about damn time, too). Not only did he score twice, but he created the Gomez goal with a great play to get to the cross and head the ball along.
Speaking of which, let’s look a little closer at that:
At full speed, I thought it was offside, but clearly it wasn’t; Gomez played it perfectly, staying just in front of the defender and then speeding through the ball at the last second. It was at this point that I had a good feeling that we were home free, and indeed Schalke soon removed Raul, and generally seemed to throw in the towel. Keep in mind they have a CL match in a few days, and also have the Pokal final coming up.
It’s unclear what the mood in the changing room was before the game, but I didn’t see any evidence of dissension in the ranks. Bastian, who was finally goaded into anger by the media clowns this week, played very well. Even the defense looked solid – Schalke’s one goal was technically an OG on Badstuber, but it wasn’t really his fault. As we discussed last week, we’ve had problems on free kicks and corners with being too slow, too laid-back, and too passive. If we’re going to be more aggressive, occasionally you’ll have a play where a guy gets turned around or goes too far into the play and lets the ball ricochet off of him. I don’t mind that – if we play hard-nosed, fast-paced defense all the time, you’ll make far more plays than you’ll give up. And our back line and CMs both did a good job against Schalke today.
As excited as I am right now, we still need to close out the year. With a two point lead (and a huge lead on goal differential), we can afford to win one + draw one. But a loss puts us right back where we were before today, so nothing is set in stone yet.