The Bavarians played their first league game after their month long winter break and showed no signs of letting up as they brushed aside Mike Busken's Greuther Furth...The Premier League and Spanish La Liga took a break from hogging the limelight as it was all about Bayern Munich this week as the club announced that former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola would be at the helm next season as Jupp Heynckes would be leaving the post at the end of the season. The 42-year old Guardiola, who had taken a sabbatical from management, was linked with the jobs at the Manchester clubs and Chelsea in addition to the Bavarians.
Finally in a move that made more sense to people than shock them, Guardiola chose that Germany would be his home for the next three years. Bayern Munich entertained Greuther Furth, who were bottom of the league table, and were a massive 33 points adrift of the Bavarians before this game. Expecting an away win would have been asking for too much, but Die Roten could not afford to lift their foot off the gas despite being comfortably placed to win their 23rd Bundesliga title.
The four-time European champions strolled to a comfortable 2-0 victory over Mike Busken's side who have won only once this season, which was an away victory at Mainz. There were a few talking points from this game though as Bayern Munich eased past their opponents.
Mandzukic - Bayern's new goal machine
When Mario Mandzukic was signed from Wolfsburg at the start of the season, there were questions raised about how Heynckes would provide ample playing time for the Croatian striker, Claudio Pizarro and Mario Gomez. After having a superb season last year, Gomez, who was injured at the start of the season, started only three of Bayern's games in this campaign and has scored twice, unlike Mandzukic who has 11 goals from the 16 games he has played.
It was expected that Heynckes will start with Gomez as his lone striker as the German was due to make his 100th Bundesliga appearance for the Bavarian giants. However it was not to be as the Bayern gaffer's decision to start with Mandzukic paid dividends yet again as the he responded with two goals, one a neat finish from a Thomas Muller cross, and the second a header from a Toni Kroos' corner, to make it his sixth career brace.
|Mandzukic had a field day against Greuther Furth|
It was a fine evening for the 26-year old as he kept the Greuther defence on their toes with his intelligent movement. The former Dinamo Zagreb man linked up well with the support cast of Thomas Muller, Franck Ribery and Toni Kroos to achieve a pass completion rate of 77.8%.
A reason why Mandzukic has been preferred over Gomez could be because of the lack of mobility that the German brings to the table. Even at the Euro 2012, it was seen that Germany played better when they had Mirsolav Klose as the striker, rather than Gomez, as the Lazio man got into goalscoring positions in addition to interchanging positions with the attacking trio behind him.
For Heynckes though, the acquisition of the Croatian has only increased the potency of this already balanced Bayern side who have once again proved that they are one of the top dogs of Europe.
No sign of complacency
Bayern's charge for a 23rd Bundesliga crown has been nothing short of rampant. The Bavarians wanted to avenge the twin losses of the domestic league to Borussia Dortmund and the European Cup to Chelsea in the 2011-12 season by getting off the blocks as quickly as possible this year. Their determination to be the top club in Germany has seen them establish a 15-point lead over title favourites, Dortmund who are in third place, a point behind Sami Hyypia's Bayer Leverkusen.
Comfortably into the knockout stages of the Champions League with a highly favourable fixture against Arsenal, Bayern would have been expected to take it easy considering their position in the league and Europe. In addition, the quality of the visiting team, Greuther Furth, who lie at the bottom of the Bundesliga table with a paltry 9 points, would have hardly sent shivers down the spine of the Bavarians who had not lost at home for their last 19 Bundesliga games, the last being a 1-2 loss to Bayer Leverkusen.
However, Jupp Heynckes is a well-travelled coach, and he was aware of the need to keep the hunger in his side intact. The coach rang a few changes at the back introducing Daniel van Buyten to partner Dante, insetad of Jerome Boateng and Mario Mandzukic was selected ahead of Mario Gomez to lead the line.
|Van Buyten was selected ahead of regular centre-half Jerome Boateng|
The rest of the team bore a familiar look as Die Roten put up a stellar performance that will only have sent a message to Guardiola, currently in New York, that he had made the right decision to choose the Bundesliga side over the glamour of the Premier League.
The passing, interchange of positions by the players and the finishing were all of the highest level. Although their task was helped by a Greuther side, who were being extremely defensive which played right into Bayern's hands.
In short Bayern were the embodiment of former United States President George Bush's statement, 'We will not stop, we will not tire and we will not fail.'
Greuther's woes compounded
When you take a look at the Bundesliga points table and see the tally next to Greuther Furth, you can only help feeling sorry for them. The Cloverleaves' season has been nothing short of a disaster. With one win to show next to six draws and eleven defeats, Mike Busken's men are set for a second-tier football next year, unless they come up with a wonder run that would somehow lift them out of the relegation zone.
|STAT: Greuther Furth were ten points adrift of Wolfsburg in 15th place and safety from relegation. In Bundesliga history, no side with nine points or fewer gained from the first 17 games has ever avoided relegation|
Any hopes of upsetting the odds against Bayern Munich were dispelled when Mario Mandzukic's shot was spilt by the goalkeeper Wolfgang Hesl to give the Bavarians a lead. It was no more than Bayern deserved as they totally ran the show with their crisp passing and intelligent movement across the park. The Bayern wingers, Thomas Muller and Franck Ribery had a field day as they tore the Greuther full backs to shreds with their pace and trickery.
|Buskens looks to the heavens for help|
Greuther had a couple of shots to test the Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer however they all turned out to be child's play for the former Schalke man. Mandzukic's second goal in the second half sealed the tie in the Bavarians' favour. The four-time European champions kept up the pressure by introducing Xherdan Shaqiri, Arjen Robben and Mario Gomez for Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller and Mario Mandzukic respectively and ensured that the opposition would resort to bringing their entire side into their own half to restrict the scoreline as much as possible.
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