After an eventful winter break, Bayern appeared determined to show that the club wouldn't be distracted today. Die Roten seized control in the early going, with Mandzukic and Ribery (as usual) threatening every time they got forward. Alaba and Ribery continue to work their overlapping runs on the left side, and Greuther Fürth needed some quick reflexes from their back line (and a bit of luck) to preserve the 0-0 score-line for as long as they did.
But the Cloverleaves fought hard, and didn't give up anything easily. Thomas Kleine was especially alert, clearing the ball when Bayern had a chance to send in a dangerous cross at least 3 times. Interestingly, Bayern's only first half goal came on a shot that wasn't even one of their best chances in the half. Mandzukic did well to get his foot to a high ball, and his shot was certainly well-struck, but it seemed like Hesl had a good chance to save it. It was only when he lost the handle that the ball trickled over:
Meanwhile, Mandzukic and Mueller both had great chances to score that they spurned. Tommy took a great pass all alone in the area, and blasted it way high. And Mandzukic got his left boot to a soft pass from Mueller on the right side, but could only manage to deflect it past the far side of the right post (though, to be fair, he had to lean into the ball pretty far just to make contact). With those spurned chances, Bayern went into the half with only a 1-0 lead, despite controlling 75 percent of the possession and dominating the match.
If SpVgg had any period in the game where they were in the ascendancy, it was the first 8 or 9 minutes of the second half. Steiber and Petsos both had opportunities down the left side, with Bayern's defense a little slow to recover. On one occasion, Dante was caught furhter back from the rest of his line and allowed SpVgg to play the ball onside dangerously. But the same Dante recovered to poke away the cross and clear the danger. After that point, Bayern resumed the attack on the Fürth goal. After at least 9 or 10 headers, Mandzukic finally picked up his brace from a good header:
The rest was mop-up duty, as SpVgg, to be honest, didn't look as though they ever had a chance to put 2 past Neuer. Robben and Shaqiri came on in a double switch, which left us with an interesting Ribery - Shaq - Robben attacking middie line. Robben appears to be at 100 percent. He was moving very well and had a lot of energy on the right flank. With under 10 minutes to go, the other Super Mario Brother came on. But Gomez didn't have much time to do anything, as SpVgg actually put together a bit of ball control int he late minutes to run out the clock.
- Ribery was lights-out again, as he couldn't be controlled on that left side. Other than one poor pass across the field, he did everything right. He and Alaba make it very tough for opponents to keep us from getting good looks at the goal from the left flank.
- Gol! TV commentator Gary Preston lightly hinted that Ribery may have been exaggerating his facial wound in the first half. Franck did catch a forearm in the cheek, but it looked like it was just a glancing blow. A few minute later, when Bastian got knocked down from behind and then got right back to his feet, Preston says "now, Schweinsteiger is a man who knows how to handle pain."
- Leverkusen won decisively at home, so they keep pace with Bayern in the Bundesliga table. Eintracht Frankfurt will fall back, and BVB kicks off in one hour. We'll be back when the weekend's matches are over to look at the updated standings and see what's on tap for next week. Thanks for reading.