These two teams are at opposite ends of the Bundesliga table, but one-game elimination made Bayern Munich's 2-0 victory on Tuesday very uncomfortable. Coming off a victory against Wolfsburg, Werder Bremen manager Victor Skripnik set up his team perfectly to handle the world-class talent opposite him.Bayern's stars came to play though, and Thomas Müller's brace was able to push the Reds to their fourth DFB-Pokal final in five years.
Bremen played as tenacious as advertised, their pressing patient and opportunistic. Claudio Pizarro hung back when Bayern had the ball, and his self-restraint paid off early in the game when Franck Ribeéy inadvertently passed him the ball. Pizarro suddenly had acres of space to make some early magic happen for Bremen, but Philipp Lahm tackled away his ball to the incoming Fin Bartels to prevent an embarrassing opening goal for the treble chasers.
The attacks from Bayern came in consistent waves, but Bremen's defense was able to keep up. Papy Djilobodji and Jannik Vestergaard cleared away many of Bayern's crosses, and Janek Sternberg, starting his third cup game this season, was bruising Kingsley Coman with a tussle or two. Bayern's stellar interplay was often pushed out to the wings, which allowed Bremen to have enough players in the penalty area to clear away the first-time service Coman, Ribéry, or Mario Götze would deliver.
Facing another defense unwilling to give an inch, Bayern had to score in an abnormal way, and that they did. Unsuccessful in open play, Müller orchestrated a Bayern corner to perfection, telling his mates to bunch up at the top of the box. Upon Xabi Alonso's corner kick, Ribery and Robert Lewandowski, both of whom unable to significantly impact the match, pulled the Bremen defense towards the far post. That left Müller alone with Clemens Fritz, and after the Bremen veteran fell down, Müller was able to give Bayern a halftime lead by heading Alonso's corner into the bottom corner.
Though Bayern seemed to be in full control, Cup-mode must have krept into Pep Guardiola's mind. His defense started to look more stretched, and when a miss-hit Manuel Neuer lob fell to Sambou Yatabare, Bayern appeared to be one mistake away from letting in an equalizer even though Yatabare's effort fell softly into the hands of Neuer. Bremen's best chance of the game came not long into the second half, Yatabare back heeling a pass wide to Theodor Gebre Selassie before the Czech international just missed Vestergaard's lunge. The departing Bayern manager reacted by making all three of his substitutions within 12 minutes around the hour mark, each of which – Medhi Benatia, Thiago Alcantara, Arturo Vidal – designed to reinforce Bayern's spine.
Another mistake nearly came not long after his reinforcements into the game. Benatia cleared a ball away that pinballed off the head of Vestergaard. David Alaba tried to clear it away, but Fin Bartels pulled the defender off-balance, causing the ball instead fall into the back of the net before Manuel Neuer could swat it away. However, referee Tobias Stieler whistled disallowed what could have been a humiliating own goal that leveled the scoring, calling for a foul on Bartels instead.
Fortunately for the Bavarians, Vidal was able to force Bremen into a costly mistake of their own. Sternberg tried tackle away another chance from Vidal in the penalty area like he had done with the Chilean's successor, but instead impeded Vidal to the point the midfielder fell over. Stieler whistled for the penalty much to the left-back's dismay, and Müller misguided the jumpy Felix Wiedwald to complete his brace.
With two goals now on the board, Bayern began to retreat in their own have to ensure their return to the Olympiastadion in Berlin. Their treble dreams are now more alive as they await their opponent – the winner of the match Wednesday between Borussia Dortmund and Hertha Berlin.
Bayern Munich (2-0) Werder Bremen
FCB: Thomas Müller (30', P 71')
Bayern XI: Neuer – Lahm, Martínez, Alaba, Bernat (Benatia 58') – Alonso – Coman (Vidal 70'), Götze (Thiago 60'), Müller, Ribéry – Lewandowski
Bremen XI: Wiedwald – Gebre Selassie, Djilobodji, Vestergaard, Sternberg – Fritz (Kleinheisler 83'), Grillitsch – Yatabare (Öztunali 74'), Junuzovic, Bartels – Pizarro (Uja 73')