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Bayern dominate possession, shake off physical Bremen, 4-0

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Missing eight players from the roster, Pep Guardiola had to make adjustments to his lineup, but, in the end, it's the same old, same old, with Bayern dominating possession, scoring chances, and, of course, the scoreline, easily holding off a very physical Werder Bremen side with a clear 4-0 victory.

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Statistics show that FC Bayern Munich have struggled in the past when they're missing their Dutch-French offensive combo of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry, but the coach had urged the reporters in Friday's press conference to wait to see what would happen on game day. Turns out, he was right.

Pep rolled out a mostly predictable lineup, considering that he couldn't use the aforementioned Ribéry and Robben, while also having to deal with the absences of Xabi Alonso (suspension), Claudio Pizarro (muscle issues), Gianluca Gaudino (muscle issues), and the long-term injured Javier Martinez and Thiago Alcântara (both in rehab after major knee injuries).  Robert Lewandowski, Mario Götze and Thomas Müller were responsible for the goal scoring, while Sebastian Rode moved into the midfield alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Mehdi Benatia replaced Holger Badstuber in the back. Of course, the biggest surprise was the fact that Manuel Neuer was left at home to get some rest after playing in every single game this season, and Pepe Reina was allowed to get his first official game action for Bayern.

Werder Bremen started out with a lot of energy, already passing their shot total from the Hinrunde against Bayern in the first minute, recording a chance on goal with a shanked shot, and put the Bayern defense on their back heels in the first five minutes, getting into Bayern's half consistently for the first 20 minutes. But, in terms of real clear scoring chances, Pepe Reina really didn't have too much to do, with most of the Bremen attacks being snuffed out by the attentive defense of Boateng and Benatia, with some help from David Alaba.

On the other side, all Bayern had to show for their efforts was a nice cross from Rafinha to Lewandowski's head, which forced Werder goalkeeper Raphael Wolf into a diving save. The only other opportunity was Boateng's volley shot from the top of the box, which was blocked by some Bremen legs on the way, causing no problems for Wolf.

Then, in the 24th minute, Thomas Müller showed why he is so valuable to the team. Taking a nicely taken one-time touch from Lewandowski into his run, he was stuffed by Wolf in the box, only to jump back up, receive the ball again, and pull off his best Arjen Robben impression, curving the ball into the far corner with his left foot, leaving the Bremen keeper no chance.

The rest of the half, Bayern continued to dominate possession, as they like to do, with the confidence of knowing that their opponents couldn't just stand in the back. Just when it seemed that the teams would go into the changing rooms for half time with a score of 1-0, Bayern received a free kick at the top of the box. Schweinsteiger and David Alaba lined up for the kick, with the acting captain faking a shot, and, as we have seen a few times already this season, Alaba perfectly placing the ball over the wall, and into the right corner, well out of reach of Wolf. With that, the referee whistled to close the second half, and Bremen had taken a demoralizing goal against which they could lament about for the next 15 minutes.

The second half continued with Bayern playing keepaway, but, apparently, Bremen's coach Viktor Skripnik had demanded a little more fight from his players, and they came out rough. Hard fouls, but also improved play, came from the hosts now, with Reina now having to show why Pep wanted to sign him this summer. A shot/mis-hit cross forced the Spanish keeper to backpedal and touch the ball out over the cross bar.

In the 65th minute, it looked like Bremen had finally broken through, with the ball in the back of the Bayern goal. But, the referee whistled for a hand ball by Davie Selke prior to the goal, although replays showed that Boateng was lucky to not be called for a penalty kick, pulling Austrian defender Sebastian Prödl down by the back of his shirt.

This got the home fans back angry and back into the game, while the Bremen players started playing even more rough, forcing Thorsten Kinhöfer to call the captains over and warn both teams. It seemed to work, other than Prödl taking out Pepe Reina in the box on a cross.

In the end, a fast counter attack finally put the game out of reach. Jerome Boateng grabbed the ball well in his own half, putting a nice long ball through to Thomas Müller, who selflessly lobbed it over an onrushing Raphael Wolf to Lewandowski, who had made the long run to get in position, with the Polish striker only needing to head it into an empty net for an insurmountable 3-0 lead.

After a slew of substitutions, which included the return of der Kapitän, Philipp Lahm, after a broken ankle, Bayern decided that they wanted to stay on pace to score 100 goals for the season. Sebastian Rode initiated the last attack, threading a pass to Lewandowski, who put the ball into space for Müller, who, once again, unselfishly, laid it up for Lewa again. All the Pole had to do was slide to poke in the goal, while gracefully pulling in his landing gear to avoid a collision with the post. As in the first half, the referee felt that the goal was a worthy final play, and ended the game.

Pep Guardiola was seen running around, hugging every player (whether they played or not), as he seemed quite pleased at how well his team handled the absence of their most dangerous attackers. Now, die Roten have a whole week to rest and prepare for a Sunday home date with Borussia Mönchengladbach.