Bayern Munich followed up a Hamburg hammering with a Schalke squashing, beating them 3-0 with three first-half goals to advance to the German Cup semifinals. Robert Lewandowski was clinical again and Franck Ribery was fantastic in his return from his fitness issues.
Here are some observations from Bayern’s 3-0 quarterfinal win against Schalke.
Ribery’s riveting return
He may have been struggling with his fitness the last few weeks, but his form has remained. Ribery came ready to play, going right at Benjamin Stambouli and Benedikt Höwedes constantly trying to combine with his teammates. He was involved in all three of Bayern’s first half goals, finding Lewandowski three times and getting credited with two assists. Bayern are playing a dangerous game relying on a 33-year-old, but when he plays like this, one can see why they don’t want to move on from him yet.
Bayern finesse? Or Schalke faux pas?
Bayern deserved to get the goals after the quality finishes from Lewandowski and Thiago, but Schalke certainly made it easier, Stambouli allowing Ribery to swipe the ball away for the first goal and Max Meyer giving the ball away for the third. It was real disappointing from a team that was putting in strong performances against top teams. But Bayern came quick out of the gates and put Schalke under real pressure from the opening whistle, so they also deserve credit for the mistakes they caused.
Lewandowski shows even more
Two more goals against Schalke means Lewandowski has 16 goals in his last 15 games. He has buried free kicks, misdirected goalkeepers on penalties, and finished in fantastic ways. But what really showed how well-rounded he is was when he took Ralf Fâhrmann away from goal before picking out Thiago for an open header. Some have started to say he is entering the conversation as one of the best players of the world. He’s probably already there.
Frustrating day for Holger Badstuber
His first game in blue in the Allianz Arena went rather well, but his re-return did not. He was defenseless trying to make up for his team’s mistakes, and was sent off after two yellow cards on fouls against Arjen Robben and Javi Martinez. The Allianz Arena crowd did not seem to know how to react to his sending off either, meeting his trot off the field with silence. He has performed rather well for Schalke since joining them on loan in January, but this is a day he will want to forget.
Carlo Ancelotti learning how to rotate his team...?
Markus Weinzierl made one change to his team from the weekend. Ancelotti? Three, and a formation change. It came as a bit of a shock, but at kickoff, it didn’t seem to matter. Including Ribery was certainly the right call, but Rafinha and Xabi Alonso were solid selections as well. Rafinha showed why he’s the obvious interim replacement for Philipp Lahm, and while Xabi Alonso struggles with Schalke’s breaks, he did do well getting the play started from the back. Ancelotti hasn’t always gotten it right with his rotation, but he deserved credit for his squad selection on Wednesday.