Workmanlike Win at Werder
Benjamin Pavard started in his usual right back position, Lucas Hernández came in for the absent Alaba and Serge Gnabry started in place of Leroy Sané. The rest of the lineup was the same as the one that faced Dortmund last weekend, as Jerome Boateng miraculously was healthy enough to start.
The start of this match might have had a few Bayern fans worried. Werder came out strong. Bayern looked a little off. But in the 22nd minute, Leon Goretzka scored to make it 0-1 and the Reds never looked back. 13 minutes later Serge Gnabry would also find the back of the net to make it 0-2. From that point on the Munich side seemed on autopilot except for their desire to get Robert Lewandowski as many opportunities on goal as possible.
Getting his goal however proved more challenging than it seemingly has in a while. The Werder keeper Jiri Pavlenka made several extremely nice saves and was helped out by the woodwork at least three times as well. It was really starting to look like the Polish striker might be out of luck in this match when the ball finally fell his way. Following another near miss, Kimmich whipped in a corner that hit Goretzka in the shoulder and fell directly at Lewandowski’s feet for an easy tap in. That goal set several records as well as Lewy moved up to second in the all time Bundesliga goals scored statistic. It was also the 16th team that Lewandowski has scored against this Bundesliga season, a record, and if he scores against Leipzig in April, he will have scored against every team which is utterly remarkable.
Lewandowski was pulled shortly after his goal and Werder Bremen even managed to get one back in the 85th minute, seemingly just to irritate Manuel Neuer who no doubt wanted another clean sheet. However, Bayern were never under any real strain in this match and were able to rather methodically get all three points and presumably conserve a little energy for their midweek matchup with Lazio.
For all I’ve talked about Bayern not really needing to get out of second gear in this match, there are still a lot of good indications coming out of it. Not long ago, they were struggling to control a match the way they did today. Apart from the first 10-15 minutes and the goal, which was a complete lapse, they dominated. There was really never any doubt about who would win. It wasn’t a struggle. Bremen didn’t have countless chances that were either missed or cleared at the last second. In other words, it was a solid all-around match.
They are also getting back to near full fitness within the squad. As mentioned earlier, apart from Alaba, Nianzou, Tolisso and Costa, everyone else was available in this match. Alaba doesn’t appear to be in danger of missing extended time and Nianzou also looks like he’ll be returning soon. Tolisso and Costa are out for a while still but overall, they appear to be getting healthy at the right time for once.
As that health gets better, their schedule has a little bit of ease due to the Pokal exit and their form improves, there is real reason for hope in both remaining competitions. Baring an absolute disaster Wednesday night, Bayern should be through the the Quarterfinals of the Champions League. We all know anything can happen in a knockout competition, but Bayern certainly appear to be amongst the favorites again this season that has been filled with the large clubs far below peak powers and many others massively struggling to deal with this ridiculously condensed schedule.
The next few weeks will be pivotal. The Leipzig match feels massively important in the title race. A win would feel huge for either side. A draw seems as thought it would favor Bayern slightly from a mentality standpoint. And we should also find out who our opponent is in the next round of the Champions League next Friday (assuming they win). I for one am excited and looking forward to seeing how this season plays out from here.