Phew. Bayern Munich survived giving up a goal seconds into the match and losing their two starting centerbacks to beat Hoffenheim 2-1 and move back to the top of the Bundesliga table.
The match certainly didn't start very well for Bayern. Mere seconds after the opening whistle, the Bavarians were picking the ball out of the back of their own net. Kevin Volland latched onto a very poor pass from David Alaba and beat Manuel Neuer to give Hoffenheim the lead after only 9 seconds. The goal ties Karim Bellarabi's against Borussia Dortmund last season for the quickest in Bundesliga history.
Bayern took control of the match from there. However, Hoffenheim continued to harry them with a high defensive line forcing many offside calls against FCB. For the first half hour, the passing was also not there from Bayern. The majority of their mistakes were over-passing and sending balls way past their intended targets.
Douglas Costa wanted to repeat his performance against Hamburg last week and Bayern's attack went through him in the first half. He used his speed to abuse the right side of Hoffenheim's formation, and it finally paid off just before halftime. After beating his man, Costa ripped a shot on goal that Oliver Baumann was only able to parry in front of his goal. Of course, the man without a price Thomas Müller was there to... thigh the ball into the back of the net. Bayern pulled level 1-1 heading into the halftime break.
At the hour mark, Bayern nearly scored an exact replica goal. Douglas Costa again sent a shot toward Baumann from wide on the left, and the goalkeeper could only parry it into the middle of his box. This time, however, Bayern were not able to capitalize. Thiago couldn't latch onto the ball in time before Niklas Süle cleared it out.
Bayern pushed for the winner in the second half and brought on Thiago Alcantara and Robert Lewandowski to accomplish this feat. But...
Disaster struck FC Bayern in the 73rd minute. Having just received a yellow card to award a free kick, Jerome Boateng was judged to have blocked the kick with his hand. The referee showed him his second yellow card and sent him to the showers, awarding a penalty to Hoffenheim in the process. Eugen Polanski, clearly intimidated by the fact that Neuer was standing directly in front of him, shot his penalty off the post, and Bayern cleared the ball away.
Even a man down, Bayern came close to grabbing the victory. Some wonderful interplay between Lewandowski and Götze nearly led the Polish striker scoring, but Baumann made a spectacular save to deny him. Then, on the ensuing corner kick, Baumann blocked a Lewandowski header again. Vidal put the ball back into the area, and Müller headed it off the post and out of play.
Then, the magic happened. For the umpteenth time on the day, Douglas Costa beat his man out wide. His low, hard cross into the area was dummied by Götze. Baumann thought Götze was going to get it, so he edged that way. The ball ended up in the back of his net moments later when Lewandowski smacked it in to take all three points.
What a day for FC Bayern. We'll worry about next week, next week.
Lineup and Stats
Hoffenheim: Kevin Volland (1)
Bayern Munich: Thomas Müller (41)
Bayern XI: Neuer - Alaba, Benatia (Rafinha 36), Boateng, Lahm (Lewandowski 68) - Alonso - Costa, Vidal, Götze, Robben (Thiago 59) - Müller
Hoffenheim XI: Baumann - Kim, Süle, Schär, Kaderabek - Schwegler, Polanski, Schmid (Rudy 64), Zuber - Volland, Kuranyi (Uth 69)
- Are you looking for analysis on what led to the opening Hoffenheim goal and how Bayern can prevent it in the future? It's rather simple. Alaba doesn't need to play wonderful passes to put Volland in behind the Bayern back line. His pass was exquisite. It was just to the wrong team.
- Mehdi Benatia once again leaves a Bayern Munich match after picking up an injury. This time, it appears as though he injured his right thigh in a non-contact injury. This isn't the best news for Bayern's backline.
- Müller continues to be amazing for FC Bayern. While he's rarely flashy, there aren't many players in the world that get the job done as consistently as Thomas. He always finds a way to the goal after shots and was in the perfect place to knock in the rebound from Costa's shot.
- Boateng had a disastrous minute. First, he gave up a free kick just outside the box and received his first yellow. Then, he followed it up with a handball on that penalty to get sent off and concede a penalty. Sigh. Next week against Bayer Leverkusen will see Bayern without Boateng and potentially Benatia.
- Götze put together a very good performance. His took on defenders constantly forcing the Hoffenheim defenders to drop back. His dummy on the winner was excellent.
- Douglas Costa, once again, spent the entire match terrorizing the opposition. At the moment, he's a bit wasteful, but it will come under control. Once this team starts clicking with Costa out wide, watch out.
- What more can be said about Big Shot Bob? Lewandowski comes in late to make something happen and, boy, does he. Lewandowski peppered Hoffenheim's goal during his time on the field, and the winner was much deserved in his brief appearance.