It wasn't pretty for the first quarter of an hour, but there was no doubt that Bayern Munich were walking away from the Grudnig-Stadion on Saturday as victores. The 2-0 victory over FC Nürnberg reestablished Bayern's 13 point lead at the top of the table and extended their Bundesliga unbeaten run to a remarkable 45 matches.
Der Club started very strong and nearly took the lead after three minutes. Midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake found himself all alone at the top of the box. His side scissor kick beat Manuel Neuer, but it smashed off the crossbar. Neuer was very active in the first ten minutes, and he was probably busier in that short period than he's been in a few full matches this season. Nürnberg's high pressure was causing Bayern problems, and it was taking them a little while to figure out how to beat it.
Then, in the tenth minute, disaster struck for Nürnberg. First, Timothy Chandler went down with what later was diagnosed as a torn lateral meniscus, and Daniel Ginczek would go down and be lost for the season with a torn ACL. Less than twenty minute into the match and Gertjan Verbeek was forced to use two of his substitutions. The match against the World Champions was always going to be very difficult for Nürnberg, and now they were without two starters. That didn't stop the Dutchman from urging his team to continue pressing.
However, we're all well aware of Bayern's ability to strike quickly. Neuer came up big with a save in the Bayern goal, and the counterattack started. David Alaba dribbled into the penalty area on the left side and lofted a ball to the center of the 6 yard box. Mario Mandzukic shielded Marvin Plattenhardt off the ball and volleyed the ball into the back of the net with his left foot. The goal is Mandzukic's 12th on the season and 15th in all competitions. Twelve goals in nineteen games is a pretty good return.
The goal helped Bayern grab complete control of the match. They looked far more comfortable on the ball and spent the rest of the half threatening a second goal. In the 30th minute, Arjen Robben smacked his free kick off of the post. The ball rebounded to Thomas Müller, and his header was also kept out by the post. Nürnberg were pleased to hear the halftime whistle, as it seemed that Bayern were sniffing at a second goal.
Bayern started the second half at a blur with an excellent pass behind the defense to beat the offside trap. Mario Mandzukic and Philipp Lahm were two-on-one with Nürnberg goalkeeper Raphael Schäfer. Mandzukic played the ball into the middle to Lahm, and the captain scored to make it 2-0. The goal was Lahm's first in his last 95 games. The last time he scored in Bundesliga play? 2010.
It was nearly 3-0 in the 54th minute. A corner kick came out to Lahm at the top of the penalty area, and he lofted the ball over the top to Robben out wide. Instead of crossing the ball, Robben volleyed it at the goal. The ball struck the post before deflecting off of Schäfer and going out of bounds for another corner. Nothing came out of that one.
Mandzukic and Thomas Müller received deserved yellow cards in the 65th minute for fouls. Mandzukic will be suspended for the match next weekend against SC Freiburg. This moment was hilarious, because it appeared that Pep Guardiola held back Matthias Sammer from going after the 4th official. If you find the gif for that, please put it in the comments!
There was a special guest in the crowd during the match. A former FC Bayern manager...
What every Bundesliga player dreads seeing when their team isn't having a good season: pic.twitter.com/pxJDJsUJXJ— Scott Schroder (@heynckelpott) February 8, 2014
That's right! Felix Magath was in attendance for the derby! What do you think about that, Dante?
Bayern will return to the field on Wednesday in the DFB Pokal against struggling Hamburg.