After beating Stuttgart 4-0 at home earlier this season, Bayern this time traveled to Stuttgart and came away with a less impressive, but crucial 3-1 victory to put the pressure back on Dortmund to pick up three points tomorrow vs Schalke.
Bayern got out on the attack early, with Mario Gotze breaking the offsides trap within the first two minutes. After running at the keeper, he tried to pull the ball back to Franck Ribery who, unfortunately, wasn't able to get a shot off. About ten minutes later, after a Rafinha foul, Manuel Neuer was forced into an incredible reaction safe. Filip Kostic's free kick from the left hand side found Georg Niedermeier, whose header fell to Daniel Didavi who was wide-open in front of Neuer. His ensuing shot was saved wonderfully off the line. Similar to their first game in the Hinrunde, Stuttgart decided not to sit back and play for the draw, instead trying to attack and find an early goal before Bayern could get into their rhythm.
One man that struggled mightily to find a rhythm was Arturo Vidal, who was subbed out after about 30 minutes for Thomas Muller, with Pep Guardiola likely not willing to risk going down a man as Vidal had already picked up three fouls and one yellow card in the early going.
In the 31st minute, Bayern struck first. Ribery found himself on the edge of the box, and after a few body fakes, decided to move left and vertically into the box. His low cross was slotted home beautifully by Georg Niedermeier for an own-goal and a 1-0 lead. Thank you, Mr. Niedermeier!
Bayern kicked the second half off with what seemed to be a little more urgency. In the 53rd minute, Juan Bernat had a shot from outside the box deflected right back at him. He headed that rebound overtop of the Stuttgart defense right to David Alaba, who controlled the ball and hammered it home, right through the legs of Stuttgart defender Toni Sunjic and past Przemyslaw Tyton.
In the 63rd minute, Bayern conceded another free-kick on the left side. This time, Bayern defended the initial ball decently enough, but the ball somehow fell to an on-the-ground Didavi, who, from a seated position, found a way to put the ball into the top right corner past Manuel Neuer. The goal seemed to give Stuttgart an extra burst of momentum, as they were the ones putting pressure on Bayern for the next several minutes.
In an effort to counter the change in momentum, Guardiola swapped Thiago for Götze after roughly 70 minutes and Joshua Kimmich for Douglas Costa after 75 minutes. It did not prove effective, as Stuttgart continued to pile on the pressure, getting Timo Werner the ball often out on the right wing where he continuously found himself on the touchline with opportunities to get in low, dangerous crosses. That was until substitute Douglas Costa iced the game in the 89th mintue when he found the back of the net from outside of the box with a lovely strike that left goalkeeper Tyton with no chance.
Next up, Bayern travel to Lisabon for the return leg of their Champions League quarter final match-up on Wednesday before hosting 7th placed FC Schalke 04 on Saturday.