From the opening touch, it was clear that this was going to be a more difficult match than any we've faced this season. Werder was well-organized and had a solid game-plan, even more so than Schalke or Valencia. Although Bayern had more early chances than Werder Bremen, these were mostly half-chances and attacks that crumbled before a shot rather than real opportunities to test the 'keeper. The match was mostly fought out in the middle of the pitch, with Bayern getting a majority of possession but the Werder midfield challenging the ball as soon as Bayern took it across the halfway line.
Ribery and Pizarro both had chances in the first half, with Dante also finding the net from a set-piece only to see the goal waved off for offside (probably correctly, though it was very close). Late in the first half, the match got a little gritty, with a few yellow cards and some crunching tackles going in. I'd have to say Bremen was a little more aggressive with the rough tackles, but Gustavo certainly did a bit of elbow-work going for a few high balls.
The second half began in similar fashion, but Bayern was slowly starting to create some more room on the flanks. Werder defended well, and twice created decent chances off their own. In particular, Nils Petersen took advantage of a strange bounce to send a one-hopper at Manuel Neuer. But Neuer handled it well, and we even got a chance to break on the other end. After that, it felt like Bayern was more creative and more assertive, and it was just a question of whether we'd get the break-through, or whether Werder could hang on for a draw.
The big moment came with about 10 minutes to go. Mueller took the ball with a bit of space on the right side, and saw Gustavo calling for it:
Yes, I know it's backwards. It was the only one I could find. Anyway, that's a surprising bit of finesse from Goose there. His goal earlier this year was an impressive one, but more of a hard smash. Mielitz clearly expected more of the same, as he came out a bit to cut down on the angle and prepared to dive to either side. Instead, Gustavo neatly lobbed a soft, high ball just out of his reach. He's clearly been practicing that.
It was only a couple minutes later when Bayern put the points in the bag, this time through Shaqiri's impressive sprint-and-pass move across to Mandzukic:
First of all, there was a good pass (I think from Ribery?) to set up Shaqiri earlier in the play. Shaqiri showed great vision to know exactly where Mandzu was going to be. And Javi could have lunged at it himself, but was savvy enough to let it slide through.
Given the tough tone of the match and the difficulty in breaking through, this was one of the more enjoyable wins of the year. The last goal was pure class, and was easy to see a mile away. Some thoughts:
- The commentator kept talking about it, but I can't really blame him - that Shaqiri is just popping out of his kit with muscles. Do you think he lifts weights every day, or is he just naturally jacked up?
- Mueller and Ribery both had excellent games, despite failing to find the net themselves. Once everyone is healthy, it's going to be hard to figure out a way to get everyone enough minutes. But I guess that's a good problem to have.
- The Gol! TV guy's explanation of Mia San Mia:
It's translates roughly to "We are what we are ... (long pause) ... and if you want something, come and get it"
Thanks for reading.