The starting lineup took a LONG time to get going
Bayern Munich’s starting lineup was not short on talent, but had no feel for one another — until Franck Ribery opened the floodgates with his half-volley effort that found the back of the net. Ribery’s tally was was just the spark Bayern needed to get moving in the right direction and instill a little confidence in a scuffling lineup.
The connections between Corentin Tolisso, James Rodriguez, Thomas Muller, Sandro Wagner, and Ribery were uneven, off-target, and just plain out of sync for much of the first half. After Ribery’s goal, the unit was far more assertive and climaxed with James’ tremendous goal off a cross from Tolisso. Still, with so much talent on the pitch, Bayern needed to be more fluid and just flat-out better offensively. The creativity was there, but the ability to connect play from A to Z for a goal was lacking on several occasions. For once, the magic touch of Jupp Heynckes didn’t immediately produce results, but was ultimately good enough capture a victory.
Mats Hummels is playing like the top center-back in the world
Despite missing time recently, Hummels was right back to his shutdown best. When healthy this season, Hummels has been the most reliable of the talented Bayern back-line rotation. His steady presence and confidence is evident, but it is his ability to thwart just about any rush or one-on-one situation that makes him so valuable. Time after time against Mainz, Hummels made key stops and clearances to help preserve a shutout for Sven Ulreich. If Hummels can continue this level of play, Bayern would have to be considered a major threat to any club remaining in the Champions League.
Mainz was game
Despite the loss, Mainz did not appear ready to immediately cede to Bayern. The home team managed to make life difficult for the Munich boys throughout the contest. With a high-pressure counter attack, Mainz was able to push the pace at Bayern several times in the first half, but it was often turned away by the aforementioned Hummels or his partner Jerome Boateng. Sandro Schwarz had his side ready to challenge Bayern, but he simply did not have enough firepower to break through for a goal on offense. Defensively, Mainz was feisty, but not clever enough to prevent the overwhelming talent of Bayern from eventually finding the back of the net. Credit to Mainz though, for creating just enough havoc to keep Bayern off balance.
Even with a clean sheet, Sven Ulreich was a roller coaster at times
Ulreich’s season has been marked by tremendous highs and some forgettable lows. Today, the free-agent-to-be goalkeeper had several shaky moments, while also some formidable plays as well. With Manuel Neuer still on the mend, Ulreich will need to level out his play just a bit as Bayern heads into a stretch that features DFB Pokal and Champions League matches. Any dent in Ulreich’s confidence could result in a big step back for the squad, as Ulreich’s play was one of the bright spots over the past eight weeks.