Mainz 05 has had a tough season. Sandro Schwarz was let go in November due to abysmal results, such as an 8-0 loss to RB Leipzig, and was replaced by Achim Beierlorzer, the coach sacked by FC Köln after failing to get them out of the relegation zone. While Köln has improved their form as of late, Mainz has floundered and now finds itself only two points above safety. Today, the toxic atmosphere between coach and players was extremely evident in Mainz, who will need to better themselves to avoid getting relegated for the first time since 2009.
Bayern Munich only needed 26 minutes to more or less kill the game off. After Thiago’s goal, Bayern played the rest of the game in second gear, and frankly, that was all that was needed. With an important DFB-Pokal game coming up next week against an inform Hoffenheim.
It was a normal day at the office for a team whose chances for silverware are looking better and better by each week. Here are BFW’s match awards from today’s win:
Jersey Swap: Danny Latza
Down 3-0 after 26 minutes, Beierlorzer decided to act. 24-year-old central midfielder Pierre Kunde was substituted for Danny Latza five minutes after Thiago scored Bayern’s third. The Cameroonian international felt, understandably, mistreated and refused to shake Beierlorzer’s hand and was met by jeers from the crowd.
Mainz 05 captain Danny Latza replaced him. Latza is a defensive midfielder that will, unfortunately, be forgotten by the majority of football fans in ten years. He’s a classic number 6 type of player. He may be far from the most technical of players but he is important thanks to his high work rate and an ability to the team’s “dirty work.”
It would be pure speculation to say that his presence on the pitch mentally helped the Mainz players, who before his arrival looked annoyed at each other and their coach. Yet, the fact is that after Latza’s introduction, Mainz looked more energetic and had more fight in them. They never threatened Bayern, but it was interesting to see.
Tip of the Cap: Leon Goretzka
It’s great to see Leon Goretzka building some momentum. The Bochum-native has so far scored one goal and assisted four in the Rückrunde and could have a big season ahead of him if he stays injury-free. Today, Leon Goretzka’s highly intelligent runs cut through the Mainz defense like a sharp knife.
Although he got an unnecessary yellow and can be partly blamed for Jerry St. Juste’s goal, Goretzka’s development is encouraging considering he has many years left as a footballer.
Golf clap: Thomas Müller
Benched by Niko Kovac, a guaranteed starter for Hansi Flick. Muller has proven to himself and the fans that he still has the quality to be included in the Bayern starting XI. Just like Goretzka, Muller played only 65 minutes but was crucial in Bayern’s game-deciding first 26. Alongside Leon, Müller pressed the Mainz players to mistakes and ran through the defense.
His replacement and the man who was preferred by Kovac, Philippe Coutinho, had an abysmal 25 minutes. Lewandowski, a striker Müller links up perfect with, looked annoyed at the Brazilian-international, who seems to have lost all self-confidence.
Standing ovation: Benjamin Pavard
Just like Goretzka, Pavard is a player who is building positive momentum at the moment. Fantastic against Schalke, Pavard put on yet another great display today. With Kimmich moving central on the pitch, Pavard is making the right-back position his own. Offensively, Pavard has improved greatly and got another assist to his name today with a great cross to Robert Lewandowski.
Pleasing to see from a player who last year got relegated with Stuttgart and had an individually poor year.
Meister of the match: Thiago
The Spanish maestro put up yet another fantastic display. With lightning-quick feet, fantastic play-making ability, and defensive resilience, Thiago was Bayern’s best player today. His partnership with Joshua Kimmich provides Bayern with two midfielders who can stretch the offensive passing lines and cut through the defensive back-four. Defensively, Thiago was solid, as his touch just before Adam Szalai struck the ball saved Bayern from letting in a second.
The highlight of his performance was, of course, his goal. It was nothing short of a football symphony.