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Bayern possess Hannover to death, win on Thomas Müller penalty

Bayern Munich did what they usually does to the lesser teams in the Bundesliga: possess the ball, play predominantly in the opponent's half, keep a clean sheet, and find a way to get at least a goal to gain another valuable three points in the standings.

Thomas Müller celebrates the game-winning goal
Thomas Müller celebrates the game-winning goal
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

In the last game of 2015, Pep Guardiola was facing some trouble with his roster, only able to list 13 field players on his roster.  Despite all the injuries, he still managed to put out a starting eleven that most teams would envy.

Stifling Bayern possession

As usual with most bottom-dwelling teams, Hannover came out with a very defensive formation, content to clog up the field while waiting for possibilities for counter attacks.  For most of the game, all eleven players would sit in their own half, and watch Bayern pass the ball back and forth.  The only problem was, Bayern didn't really allow much in terms of counters.

Chance for an early goal, and an early deficit

Getting an early goal against such an opponent is always advantageous, forcing them to open up in search of an equalizer, and Bayern almost cashed in.  Arturo Vidal floated a pretty long pass into the box to a cutting Thiago Alcantara, who would chest the ball down, and immediately shoot on goal, only to be denied by a fantastic reaction save by Germany's backup goaltender, Ron Robert Zieler.

Only three minutes later, on what would turn out to be one of Hannover's rare excursions into Bayern territory, the hosts almost took the lead.  A cross into the box, and a very well-taken header by Danish midfielder Leon Andreasen forced Manuel Neuer to show all of the skill he had, using his fingertips to direct the ball onto the crossbar.  The followup shot by Hannover was well high of the goal.

Bayern start creating chances

In the first half hour, which consisted of a lot of Bayern passing and Hannover chasing, the hosts were able to keep Bayern away from their goal, other than easy saves on long or tight-angle shots by Zieler.  Kingsley Coman would switch flanks, going from the left to the right side, and it seemed to wake up the Bayern offense.

Hannover made the mistake of allowing Robert Lewandowski a little bit of space just outside the box, and his shot would easily beat Zieler, but clanked right off the left post, dropping right to a wide open Müller.  What seemed like an easy cherry-picking goal (especially by someone as good at is as Müller) would get cleared off the line by a scrambling Zieler, saving it with his foot.

Only two minutes later, a cross from Coman to Lewandowski would drop to Müller, who, not finding room to shoot, back-heeled the ball to Xabi Alonso, who would lay off for a Vidal shot.  The blocked ball would find its way to Lewandowski again on the left side of the box, only for Zieler to once again frustrate Bayern with a save on the Polish striker's shot.  A cross from Thiago in the box would also see Müller whiff on another promising chance.

You can not deny the Müller forever!

Just as the Bayern onslaught seemed to be dwindling, Hannover captain Christian Schulz decided he was going to play goalkeeper, inexplicably laying out in the box with an outstretched arm to block a Coman cross, leaving the referee no choice but to point to the penalty spot.  How Schulz escaped without a card is still a mystery.

Predictably, Thomas Müller, Bayern's designated PK shooter, would step up, and calmly slot it low right, as Zieler dove to the left.  Bayern had their lead, and they weren't about to give it up, as Hannover would rarely threaten Neuer's goal, and when they did, the German national team keeper (and today's captain, due to Philipp Lahm's absence) didn't need to make a save.  Bayern would go into the halftime break with a deserved lead.

Second half starts, more of the same

Whether they weren't capable or willing of mounting an attack, Hannover would continue the way they ended the first half, watching Bayern dominate possession and create chances.  Even though Bayern's shots weren't very dangerous (Zieler had to dive to stop a looping shot by Lewandowski in the 55th minute), Hannover barely emerged from their own half.

The only noteworthy chance by the hosts was a long-distance shot by Edgar Prib that started dipping toward the Bayern goal, but, in the end, Neuer could just watch it sail over.

The rest of the match just plodded along, with Coman and Thiago causing occasional problems for Hannover's defense with their dribbling skills, but the Bayern win was never really in doubt.

Off for a well-deserved vacation

FC Bayern will head into the winter break as the Herbstmeister for the fifth time in a row (a record, by the way), and lick their wounds, hoping to welcome back all of the injured players when Bundesliga play starts up again on January 22nd in Hamburg, when they take on HSV.

Match Details

Hannover 96 0 - 1 Bayern Munich

FCB: Müller (40)

Hannover: None

Hannover XI: Zieler - Sakai, Marcelo, Schulz, Albornoz - Schmiedebach, Sané - Karaman (Klaus, 84), Andreasen (Saint-Maximin, 69), Prib - Erdinc (Benshop, 58)

FCB XI: Neuer - Martinez,  Boateng, Badstuber (Kimmich, 73) - Alonso - Thiago, Vidal (Rode, 87) - Rafinha, Coman - Müller, Lewandowski

Instant Analysis

  • Bayern possession, especially against the struggling teams, is nothing new but 79% is ridiculous.
  • You could see that Bayern's players were fatigued, and needed the break badly.  Already down to only 15 healthy players for the past month or so, Pep had to use players who recently came back from injuries which he may not have risked with a full roster.
  • Hannover recorded six shots total for the game, and other than the header that Neuer barely redirected to the crossbar, and the dipping long-distance shot from Edgar Prib, none of them were even worth mentioning.
  • With Bayern's win today, and Dortmund's surprising loss to Köln (after leading the billy goats) sees the Reds go into the winter break with an imposing eight point lead.

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