A crazy roller coaster: three takeaways from FC Bayern v 1. FC Heidenheim
Die Roten took the lead, lost it after being reduced to ten men, scored three times in short order to surge in front, and were pegged back by Heidenheim hat-trick hero Robert Glatzel – only for a more familiar Robert to close out the drama with six minutes remaining.
With seven match days remaining in the Bundesliga, the race for the title is set to go right down to the wire. In the DFB-Pokal, FC Bayern have tried their level best to shred our nerves and rid us all of our fingernails. For those who have complained about domestic football being dull, boring and owned by a dominant Bavarian giant, this was the perfect antidote. As they would say in Deutschland, was für ein irres Spiel.
When you look at Bayern’s goal tally, there is nothing remotely outrageous about this evening’s return. Five goals against a second-tier outfit is pretty much par for the course. What nobody expected was Heidenheim scoring four goals of their own, and pushing Niko Kovač’s side all the way. The understated visitors even came close to retaking the lead late on, only to be denied by Sven Ulreich.
Dortmund fans will be licking their lips ahead of this weekend’s top of the table meeting, but the reality is that this evening’s encounter was just one more in the long list of freakish cup ties. Heidenheim had nothing to lose. Bayern had to play for 75 minutes with just ten men. Serge Gnabry clattered the Metal twice, which was enough to make us all want to hit the bar too. I was at home. I had a much-needed beer.
It was entertaining, bonkers, and even a little gruesome at times. But we are through to the semi-finals. The double is still very much on.
Bayern had to play most of the match a man short, which is difficult at the best of times. In this situation, the defence can usually be cut a little slack. That said, what happened here was at times too shambolic for words. Even with ten men, there were far too many hairy and dull-headed moments for the Bavarians.
It all kicked off in the thirteenth minute, when Niklas Süle was booked for a desperate challenge on Robert Andrich, right on the edge of the penalty area. The booking looked a little soft, and with the referee able to consult the video assistant things did not look good. When Herr Winkmann went to his back pocket and brandished the dreaded Rot, it was no great surprise. It was close, and for some a little harsh, but we can have no real complaints about the decision. Süle had to make his way off the pitch, but the real guilty party was Thiago, whose gormless pass had created the mess in the first place.
The coach responded by hooking out Franck Ribéry for Jérôme Boateng to maintain the four-man defensive unit, but if anything it encouraged the side from Baden-Württemberg. The Bavarians’ early advantage was quickly overturned. Robert Glatzel levelled the scores, and Rafinha was found wanting as the Bayern defence again took on the form of a piece of Swiss cheese to let in FCH skipper Marc Schnatterer six minutes before the break.
In the second half, three goals in a dozen minutes looked to have turned the contest around for good, but Heidenheim were far from done. Sub Maurice Multhaup was the fly in the Bavarian ointment, seizing a poor pass from Thomas Müller to set up Glatzel for his second, then ending up on the turf in the box courtesy of a clumsy Mats Hummels. Glatzel’s audacious “Panenka” completed a memorable hat-trick, and the scoreline was a scarcely believable 4:4.
The home side had taken the lead, lost it, retaken it with a glut of goals, and then pegged back in the space of two minutes. As the contest entered the final ten minutes, it is fair to say that the Bavarians were rocking.
At times, it looked as though it was going to be one of those crazy cup shocks. Serge Gnabry twice clattered the woodwork, and the ten men in red were huffing and puffing. With nine minutes of the 90 remaining, referee Winkmann turned down a handball shout for Bayern. The ball quickly made its way to the other side of the pitch, when Denis Thomalla looked to profit from another botched Bayern pass, this time from Boateng.
Thomalla had the goal at his mercy, and looked odds-on to turn to restore his team’s advantage. As the home fans hearts approached their mouths, Ulreich stood firm.
For all of the drama, the final act was banal. For the majority of the 75,000 crowd at the Allianz Arena, wonderfully banal. A handball decision against a Heidenheim defender, and a coolly-executed penalty from Robert Lewandowski, who had come on at the start of the second half. Having scored Bayern’s third goal, the Pole completed a welcome brace in the unfamiliar Joker role.
The timing, six minutes from full time, was perfect. I do not think that I would have survived half an hour of extra time.