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Robert Lewandowski notches brace as Bayern Munich beat Schalke 04

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FC Bayern puts the pressure on Borussia Dortmund with a home win against Schalke 04

Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

With the matches coming fast and hard across three competitions, Bayern Munich capitalized on their seven-point lead in the Bundesliga to rotate the squad for the visit Schalke 04. Six changes were made from the team that knocked Benfica out of the Champions League. Medhi Benatia, Rafinha, Juan Bernat occupied the defensive positions alongside David Alaba. Meanwhile, Mario Götze and Kingsley Coman joined the midfield contingent and Robert Lewandowski returned up top.

The home team started the match brightly as usual and dictated the pace of the entire game with their intricate passing and domineering possession. Schalke predictably sat deep and tried to counterattack whenever possible. The best chance of the first half came in the form of a Robert Lewandowski header that was touched just wide of the post by Ralf Fährmann. Götze played the ball into the path of Rafinha's overlapping run, and the Brazilian's pinpoint cross picked Lewandowski out in a sea of white shirts but the striker was denied by an excellent save from the Schalke keeper.

Bayern turned up the heat to begin the second half but early chances from Coman, Götze, and Douglas Costa were all hit right at  Fährmann. The breakthrough finally came in the 54th minute through the league-leading goalscorer Lewandowski. The prolific Pole chested Vidal's cross down before turning and firing a left-footed shot on the half-volley past the helpless Schalke keeper.

Lewandowski struck again ten minutes later for his 27th Bundesliga goal of the season and his 38th in all competitions. Rafinha once again put in a precision cross following an overlapping run, but this time Lewandowski directed his header across the face of goal and beyond the reach of Fährmann.

The game was dead and buried in the 73rd minute when substitute Franck Ribéry danced into the box and poked the ball past two defenders to an unmarked Vidal, who side-footed into the net from close range.

Although Schalke's defense weathered the storm well for the entirety of the first half, they were unable to keep Bayern at bay in the second half. The Schalke offense was largely ineffective and any attempts at counterattacks were quickly stifled by a Bayern defense that was rarely called upon. A clean sheet and strong all-around performance will be just what Guardiola ordered as the team enters a congested period of Bundesliga, Deutscher Pokal, and Champions League matches.

Bayern Munich (3-0) Schalke 04

FCB: Lewandowski (54', 64'), Vidal (73')

Bayern XI (4-1-4-1): Neuer - Rafinha, Benatia (Kimmich 63'), Alaba, Bernat - Vidal (Rode 77') - Coman, Lahm, Götze, Douglas Costa (Ribéry 67') - Lewandowski

Schalke XI (3-4-3):Fährmann - Riether, Neustädter, Matip - Caiçara, Højbjerg, Geis (Belhanda 68'), Aogo - Sané, Huntelaar (Meyer 68'), Choupo-Moting (Schöpf 82')