Bayern Munich hammer FC Kaiserslautern to advance to DFB Pokal Final

Alexander Hassenstein

It was awkward at times, but Bayern recaptured some confidence by securing their place in the DFB-Pokal final with a 5-1 win over Kaiserslautern.

The media have been quick to jump on the Bayern-are-falling-apart bandwagon of late. Guardiola's side have looked far from their best in dropping points against Hoffenheim and Dortmund, so it's safe to say the pressure was on to put on a strong performance in a home game against a second division side. Bayern's thoughts may lie with the Champions League, but this is another knockout tournament that Die Roten weren't planning on leaving before the final.

Manuel Neuer was ruled out today after picking up an injury early on against Dortmund, so 20-year-old Lukas Raeder made another appearance in goal in the absence of Tom Starke. Meanwhile, Lahm filled in at right-back for the benched Rafinha, while Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos patrolled the midfield behind an attacking front four of Thomas Müller, Franck Ribéry, Arjen Robben and Mario Mandzukic.

The opening minutes of the match were defined by a disciplined defensive display from Kaiserslautern. The away side pressed high and closed down in numbers – a brave decision that paid off in the opening minutes as Bayern struggled to find any kind of rhythm. Robben and Ribéry found themselves double-marked on the wings and looked uncomfortable having to track back to collect the ball.

In an opening ten minutes with few meaningful attacks, Bayern's best chance came when a defensive header hit the bar after Schweinsteiger chipped the ball to Müller in front of goal.

In defence, Bayern's full-backs often positioned themselves further upfield than Dante and Boateng, and Kaiserslautern exploited the resulting gaps with long balls down the wings. Raeder didn't have a whole lot to do in these situations, but they often resulted in a moment of uncertainty or a throw-in in an awkward area. Pressure from the wings nearly earned Kaiserslautern the lead when Simon Zoller failed to control dangerous low cross into the box.

But the first breakthrough was Bayern's. 23 minutes in, they won a corner with a series of short passes to the right of goal. When Robben stepped up to loft the ball into the box, Schweinsteiger lost his man with a run towards the front post and glanced a header into the opposite corner of the net.

Bayern's relief was telling as the crowd audibly lifted. Now looking for a goal of their own, there was more urgency in Kaiserslautern's attacks – and more opportunity for Bayern to break down their stubborn defensive ranks. Kroos soon found some more time to pick out his teammates, but too much distance between the front four often saw Ribéry isolated in attacking positions.

Instead, it was quick play up the right flank that led to Bayern's second on the half-hour mark. Robben skipped past a couple of defenders in the penalty area before neatly presenting the ball to Kroos, who curled a precise shot into the bottom corner.

Müller and Mandzukic were soon involved in some nice one-touch interchanges outside Kaiserslautern's box, but Robben was the instigator once again for Bayern's third goal as he cut inside and baited a clumsy challenge to win a penalty. Müller stepped up to take it, never taking his eyes off goal as he looked to outsmart goalkeeper Tobias Sippel. He succeeded; Sippel dived to one side, and Müller calmy side-footed the ball into the other to score.

Despite these setbacks, Kaiserslautern persisted with their gameplan. Their focus on high balls paid off with half an hour to play as Florian Dick swung in a cross to set up Kaiserslautern's first goal of the night. Zoller got the better of Jerome Boateng in the box, meeting the ball and firing in a header that Raeder could do very little to stop.

The margins remained uncomfortably fine when Götze came on for Robben. Zoller was called offside after latching onto Zimmer's through ball, and a couple of free kicks outside the box allowed Kaiserslautern to continue their aerial assault on the penalty area – a tactic that provided their biggest attacking threat throughout the night.

Mario Götze's arrival worked wonders for Bayern's ball retention, though, and when Schweinsteiger was replaced by Javi Martínez it seemed that the home side would calmly see out the rest of the game.

Götze had other ideas. With space in the final third, he made a quick impact by driving forward and rolling the ball into the path of the onrushing Mandzukic. The striker made no mistake, taking a couple of touches before angling a low shot past Sippel.

The midfielder then added a final flourish with a goal of his own, somehow wriggling his way past a grand total of five defenders in the process. After seeing his shot blocked, a fortuitous ricochet and a neat backheel from Müller gave Götze the space to poke the loose ball into the net from close range.

The goal capped off a resurgent Bayern performance in the closing stages; it's just a shame that it took so long to materialise. Still, the second half looked something like Bayern at their best, and it's encouraging to see such a high margin of victory against a side that did well to make things awkward for the hosts.

A trip to Braunschweig beckons on Saturday, but Guardiola's side will no doubt be thinking ahead to that huge Champions League clash at the Bernabéu in a week's time. Let's hope Bayern can continue from where they left off here.

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