Bayern narrowly defeat Hertha | Recap

Johannes Simon

Bayern's attack overcomes their makeshift defense and remain atop the Bundesliga table.

During most of the first half against Mainz one week ago, Bayern looked disjointed and anything but a fluid team working on all cylinders. The performance was almost to be expected with so many internationals having returned from World Cup qualifying and friendlies only days earlier.

A blindfolded FCB could have beaten Plzen at home but they decided to use their eyes for the match and won 5-0 while not allowing a shot on target.

Today, however, Bayern had to contend with a Hertha team battling for a place in Europe without Dante at the back, leaving Jerome Boateng to fend off the Berliners' attacks with an immobile Daniel van Buyten and little defensive reinforcement in the midfield besides Lahm until Javi Martinez entered the match after the damage was done.

Besides that, they looked outright poor for stretches of the match. The Bavarians' usual hypnotizing ground passes were suddenly starting Hertha counterattacks instead of leading to Bayern goals.

Hertha opened up the scoring inside five minutes with an Adrian Ramos header off a corner.

Bayern tried to get the goal back immediately, but any hope of the team playing with more continuity was briefly dashed as Toni Kroos and Arjen Robben both came up with non-serious groin injuries, and were replaced by Marios Götze and Mandzukic, respectively.

With not much else working, Bayern picked a good day to be lethal with set pieces.

Rafinha lined up a free kick about 15 yards from the top of the box but near the touchline when he rolled the ball a few feet to his side for Franck Ribery. The cross, placed perfectly, found the head of Mario Mandzukic who took full advantage of ex-Bayern goalkeeper Thomas Kraft's poor positioning on the play for the equalizer.

Bayern played better through the rest of the first half and went into the locker room level.

The second half wasn't especially brilliant, but the Triple-winners got another goal form Mario Mandzukic, off a set piece again, this time with Bastian Schweinsteiger sending in the cross.

Just minutes later, the other substitute and the other Mario scored Bayern's third with a header as well, this time from open play by turning in a Rafinha cross from the right. On this goal, especially, it can and should be said that Thomas Kraft didn't do very well to keep it out. The header wasn't particularly strong, and on television appeared to roll in at the speed of a tortoise.

All three Bayern goals were headed in, and all three crosses were from the same general area of the pitch, something that must frustrate Hertha to no end.

The Old Lady did manage to cut the deficit to one goal a few minutes later just before the hour mark through Änis Ben-Hatira, the only goal of the match that wasn't a header.

The final 30 minutes saw Bayern introduce Javi Martinez for the largely ineffective Thomas Müller, which helped bring some stability in the defensive midfield.

Bayern's passing was still lackluster, allowing far too many giveaways. Franck Ribery wasn't impressive filling in on the right side for Robben.

A brief scare occurred right at the end of the match when Hertha man Ramos fell like a rock inside the area, but no penalty was awarded and replays show the referee, Michael Weiner, made the correct decision as the contact with Alaba was minimal and overly exaggerated.

Negatives aside, given the injury circumstances both before and during the match, the three points are no small accomplishment, and they keep Bayern one point clear of Dortmund and Leverkusen atop the Bundesliga table.

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