Back on top: Three takeaways from Merciless FC Bayern’s mauling of hapless Wolfsburg
After thumping a de-fanged VfL Wolfsburg for six at the Allianz Arena, the Bavarians are back on top. The impossible has become possible. For the second match in a row, Bayern were absolutely merciless. Finally, everything has started to click.
When everything falls into place, there is really no such thing as a man of the match. But in today’s encounter, Robert Lewandowski was one of the standout performers. The Polish striker will be hoping that arch-critic Dietmar Hamann was watching, as he scored once in each half to take his season’s total to 29 in all competitions this season, 17 of which have come in the Bundesliga.
Everybody in Wolfsburg, players and fans alike, must be sick of the sight of Lewandowski. The Volkswagen-Mannschaft will never forget that famous five-goal blitz in the autumn of 2015, and these latest two strikes were the Polish international’s 19th and 20th against them. In Bayern colours alone, his 15th and 16th.
The records do not end there. With his first goal, a typically clinical right-footed effort in the 37th minute, Lewy also surpassed fellow Bayern legend Claudio Pizarro as the best-scoring non-German in the history of the Bundesliga. He only needs three more to reach the 200 mark.
Not long ago, many – including some claiming to be FC Bayern fans – were ruling out our chances of challenging for that historic seventh title on the spin. Coach Niko Kovač was way out of his depth, the dressing room had been lost, and the messy FC Hollywood meltdown was inevitable. Arsène Wenger was all set to come to Munich. Or something.
As we head into the final nine games of what has been one of the less predictable seasons in recent memory, things cannot be more different. The situation is by no means perfect, but things are starting to click. Bayern are back to their merciless best, knocking in goals for fun. Before kickoff, this was seen by many as a tough match; Wolfsburg have been in decent form this season, and up until today’s mauling had not conceded more than three goals in a single match.
The coach is finally enjoying the role, and the players appear to be on board. Bête noire James Rodríguez had a fantastic game. Veteran Franck Ribéry came off the bench and provided three assists in less than ten minutes. Brushing away the drama created by German national coach Joachim Löw earlier in the week, both Mats Hummels and Jérôme Boateng were solid as Die Roten had another clean sheet. Thomas Müller created the opening goal, and scored the fourth. Eat that, Jogi.
The team have done the hard graft. A gap that at one stage had stood at nine points has been closed. Bayern now sit back at the top of the table, ahead of Dortmund on goal difference. Now they just need to press on and take things to the next level.
For some, this season was doomed from the start. Yet Kovač’s men are still in with a decent chance of achieving the treble. Nine games remain in the Bundesliga, and a quarter-final in the DFB-Pokal against second tier FC Heidenheim awaits. But before that, we have what is arguably the biggest game of the season so far.
With eleven goals in their last two matches, the Bavarians will be full of confidence as they take on Liverpool at the Allianz Arena in midweek. In previous seasons, with the Bundesliga done and dusted, we have often seen a drop in form. The all too familiar March malaise. This season, fuelled by the drive to hunt down Dortmund, we have seen an increase in momentum and an uptick in form. Liverpool could be coming to the Allianz at just the right time.