FC Bayern Munich continued a scorching run of form today, and may have sealed the Bundesliga championship in the second weekend of February. FC Bayern now sits 15 points ahead of the closest chasers. Everything was working today, as Schweinsteiger, Alaba, and Gomez all found the net.
From the first kick, it was clear that Schalke weren't willing to sit back and play defense. Credit S04 for at least showing some courage and giving the fans something fun to watch. But today, their fate was already sealed no matter how they decided to play, as FC Bayern dominated the match and created scoring chances again and again.
In the first 15 minutes, Bayern had a few chances, with Ribery, Robben and Gomez all getting touches in the attacking third. But the break-through came from a penalty. Ribery worked a delay-dribble to draw a penalty (a legitimate one, as Franck was grabbed about the shoulder as he tried to turn into the ball, although he certainly went down easy to sell the call). Alaba calmly buried the penalty, and Bayern had the lead.
We had a few chances to double the advantage in the subsequent 10 minutes, with Gomez and Bastian both shanking chances at headers (with Mario's looking very much like another penalty could have been called). But Bastian made up for it with a beautiful free-kick just after the half-hour mark. His free kick floated just over the wall and sliced into the left side of the net, with Schalke 'keeper Timo Hildebrand having no chance:
Schalke had one half-chance after that, but as the sides went into the locker rooms for halftime, it was clear Bayern was going to come away with the win.
In the second half, the main questions were: (1) what would the final score be? and (2) who would be able to get their name on the score-sheet? Alaba scored his second from a nice pass by Gomez, and Robben had a chance to lay off a pass of his own for a sure goal, but choose to chip the 'keeper and couldn't find the net. He learned his lesson, though, as he had another opportunity a few minutes later and slipped a touch-pass to Gomez for the 4th goal:
The final score could have been even more emphatic, as Gomez had a goal waved off (rightfully) for offside, and Bayern had a free kick from an advantageous position with 10 minutes left and blew it. But the result was long assured at that point ... and, maybe even the league race?
Some other thoughts:
- Robben and Gomez, aside from some minor errors, are both clearly still in good shape. Gomez had a goal and an assist, and could have had more if a few calls or close breaks had gone his way. Even Robben's selfish shot was right in keeping with his personality - but he ran hard, dribbled well, and was surely making trouble for Schalke's defenders every time he touched the ball.
- Rafinha, Goose and Contento all got some minutes in the second half. Neither of the defenders had much to do, but Gustavo did look energetic and had one nice play where he won a loose ball and quickly sent a good pass upfield.
- We've got the Friday match this week (I think that was a late switch), then we play Arsenal in the CL the following Tuesday. Arsenal got a win today, but had a few injury problems (including Koscielny, who hurt himself in the warm-up). Needless to say, we'll be tracking the situation there and keeping an eye on Arsenal in the next 10 days. Thanks for reading.