Pep Guardiola gave his Spanish contingent the pleasure of sitting on the bench and viewing the match for a change, choosing to insert the fringe players (and perhaps the stars of tomorrow) Mitchell Weiser and Gianluca Gaudino into the lineup. Bastian Schweinsteiger, in his first start in three weeks, was back to marshal the midfield.
Bayern started the stronger, controlling possession and trying to break down Hertha's back line. While their play was crafty, they could not go close to Sascha Burchert's goal. On the other end, Valentin Stocker wasted a good chance. The game changed in the second half following a rather uneventful first.
Guardiola took off Gaudino at half time, choosing to give the youngster Sinan Kurt a debut. The first big chance of the half though fell to Nico Schulz. Schulz broke away and left Jerome Boateng and Dante in his wake. Fortunately, Manuel Neuer stood bigger and broader than Hercules and stopped a very good effort. Thiago was brought on to the pitch afterwards for Thomas Müller, perhaps because Guardiola was resting players for the midweek match against Borussia Dortmund. The match somewhat changed with Thiago providing inspiration. Claudio Pizarro (finally, may I say) was brought on by Guardiola as well to sneak in his customary season strike.
It was eventually Weiser's efforts which secured the match. He cut infield from the right wing, leaving three Berliners in his wake, and found Bastian Schweinsteiger with the perfect pass. Schweinsteiger made no mistake, hammering it past Burchert. He nearly got a second just minutes later, but Burchert saved. On the other end, Hertha sub Sandro Wagner had a late crack at goal, but his effort was easily saved by Neuer.
1-0, while not reflecting the possession and shot stats, was an accurate scoreline considering Bayern and at times, Hertha, played this one out rather half-halfheartedly.
FC Bayern (1-0) Hertha
FCB: Bastian Schweinsteiger (80')
Hertha BSC: -
Bayern XI (3-4-2-1): Neuer - Lahm, Boateng, Dante - Schweinsteiger - Weiser, Rode, Gaudino (Kurt 46) – Müller (Thiago 67), Götze (Pizarro 75) – Lewandowski
Hertha XI (4-2-3-1): Burchert - Pekarik, S. Langkamp, Brooks, Plattenhardt - Skjelbred, Lustenberger - Haraguchi, Stocker (Hegeler 73), Schulz (Wagner 83) – Kalou (Ndjeng 66)
- Lets start off with Sinan Kurt; he had a memorable debut, finding space on the right wing time and again. Kurt is a very accomplished player with soft touches, not too different from Mitchell Weiser, and if Pep is there for the long haul, I expect to see Kurt become a regular fixture in the side down the years.
- The player he replaced, Gianluca Gaudino, had a good day as well; his distribution was impressive and he really reminds me of Toni Kroos. Speaking of Kroos, Jerome Boateng seemed to be in the mood to sky shots over the bar. There was one moment where Boateng really had the crowd's admiration; he controlled a long ball heading towards the Hertha front line incredibly comfortably. He headed it upwards softly and balanced it with his feet superbly. A somewhat similar ball of course left him reeling in Portugal not too long ago but the situation showed how good of a defender Boateng is.
- Manuel Neuer was on top of his game today, swatting away every Hertha attack and even taking a throw-in! Schweinsteiger was very impressive on his return while Philipp Lahm attempted to play everywhere including in the hole behind the striker for a little while today. Finally, if you happen to see Mario Götze, tell him I said hi.