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March 22, 2014
• Coface Arena, Mainz
Referee: T. Stieler
• Attendance: 34000
B. Schweinsteiger 82'
M. Götze 86'
I'm Alex Moretto and I'd like to thank you all for joining me today. Good bye!
FULL-TIME: MAINZ 0-2 BAYERN MUNICH. Die Roten pull to within two points of clinching their 24th Bundesliga title, thanks to goals from Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Gotze. The hosts played so well for 80 minutes, but the quality of the German table toppers was eventually too much to overcome.
There will be no added time, as Tobias Steiler blows his full-time whistle, sealing an 18th straight Bundesliga win for Bayern Munich.
STAT ATTACK: Bayern are on the verge of winning their second consecutive Bundesliga title, something they haven’t done since their back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006.
GOAAAL! It's a second for Bayern. Ribery charges into the box to get on the end of a long pass. With Karius out of his net, Ribery cuts it back for Gotze who taps it into the empty net.
Yellow CardChristoph Moritz
Mainz are forced to go for it now, but can't keep possession. This is what makes Bayern so difficult to beat. They're in the lead, but continue to keep the ball and press.
GOAAAAL! Well you could really say it's been coming. Shaqiri sends an excellent cross into the box that Schweinsteiger gets his head on, beating a helpless Karius. Bayern finally have their goal.
Final substitution for Bayern as the Peruvian international comes on for Mandzukic. It's the first time in the Croatian's career with Bayern that he has failed to score against Mainz.
Bayern win a corner with just 10 minutes to play. Schweinsteiger gets the ball at his feet and passes off to Alaba. I'm not sure the Austrian knew where the net was as he sends the shot miles wide.
The hosts are content with booting the ball forward every time they have a chance. Okazaki is eager to chase these balls down, but Neuer is so far out of his net to claim every single one of them. He's been more of a sweeper than keeper in this second half.
For how well they have played, Bayern are still taking over as we enter the final stages of the match. Mainz are committed to defending the draw, as opposed to pressing for a dramatic winner.
Mainz are pressuring the ball so well. The crowd grows louder and louder with every errant pass or poorly struck shot. They're growing in belief, and it's showing in the players as well.
Another change for Bayern as Shaqiri comes on for Robben. The Swiss winger should provide Die Roten with some pace in attack, but it's not pace they need at the moment.
STAT ATTACK: Bayern's 17-match winning streak in the Bundesliga is in jeopardy of coming to an end if they can't find a late winner.
KARIUS! It's an absolutely incredible save by the young Mainz goalkeeper! A deflected cross falls for Ribery at the top of the box. He cuts by the last defender Popesch far too easily, and has a clear path in on goal. He squares up with the ball and tries to pick out the far corner, but Karius extends his leg as far as possible and just kicks it out!
There's a bit of a delay here as Martinez is down after a collision with Okazaki. The Spaniard is grabbing his mouth, but the replay would indicate there wasn't any contact made with his face. Nonetheless, he wins a free kick and Bayern can get back in possession.
A graphic appears showing the total shots for both teams. Bayern are credited with 16, compared to just five to Mainz. As they're shown, Muller has a go from 30 yards out and comes nowhere near hitting the target. Perhaps just a minor indication of how misleading those shot statistics really are.
That's the last we'll see of the Cameroonian who was a doubt to even play today. Muller gets on the end of a long pass and beats Ribery with a lovely move, but can't get his cross by Boateng.
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting
CHOUPO-MOTING! Another glorious opportunity for the hosts! Geis shows his class, sending an exquisite ball forward for Muller. The winger chests it down into the path of Choupo-Moting, but his shot flies just over the bar!
Ribery gets the ball now and shows his vision, making an excellent turn and getting behind the defence. He has Muller with him, but Noveski again comes charging in and makes a superb tackle to dispossess the Frenchman! Great stuff from the 34-year-old.
Bayern are starting to take over the bulk of possession. They can't work it forward, however, constantly being forced to retreat and play it backwards. Very uncharacteristic of Bayern, but credit to Mainz for making life difficult on the visitors.
MANDZUKIC! That's much more like it from Bayern! Alaba gets into space and crosses in for Mandzukic towards the far post. He climbs to head the ball at goal, and gets plenty of power behind it. Karius flies across and shows some strong hands to just keep it out! Great goalkeeping that was!
Bayern look lost at the back, but Mainz can't take advantage. First Schweinsteiger's clearance goes right to Geis who sends in Popesch along the right. His touch runs too far and he's forced to cut back. Alaba intervenes, but his cross is poor as well, falling for Moritz who fails to get his cross in.
The ensuing corner is flicked on by Schweinsteiger, and falls to Mandzukic at the back post. The Croatian is left all alone, but slams his shot well wide of the near post! He really should have done better there.
Great defending from Mainz captain Nikolce Noveski. Ribery chips a pass in for Mandzukic who lays it off for Alaba. The left-back runs into the box and has a shot, but Noveski lunges in from behind and gets a vital block!
CHOUPO-MOTING!! Unbelievable run and strike from the Cameroonian striker! He takes a pass from Geis and charges at Lahm with the utmost confidence. His shot beats Neuer but hits the underside of the bar and just stays out! Thunderous shot from the striker who is unlucky not to have opened the scoring there.
The second half is slow to get underway as some Bayern players are late getting out of the tunnel. The match finally kicks off and we're underway. Plenty to play for in the final 45 minutes, who will want it more?
Guardiola has a wealth of attacking options sitting on the substitutes bench if he feels the need to shake things up. Ribery has hardly seen the ball so far, while Mandzukic has had little to no service. The Croatian has four goals in three games against Mainz since arriving to Bayern and he will certainly be hoping to improve on that mark today.
HALF-TIME: MAINZ 0-0 BAYERN. The visitors have scored 74 goals this season, but have just one real scoring chance through the opening 45 minutes. The hosts have played exceptionally well, and were the better team for the larger part of the first half. Bayern will have to figure it out at the break or their undefeated record could come to an end here today.
45' + 1'
The first half comes to an end and the fans erupt as the referee blows his whistle, showing their support for the home team!
Just the one minute of injury time to be added on here...
Karius charges out of his goal, but his clearance is poor. Ribery picks out Kroos in the middle, who runs at the defence, cuts it onto his left and curls a shot just over the bar.
Bayern break through Robben, who cuts it onto his left foot and switches the play for Ribery. Bell reads it well and intercepts. He sends a long ball forward for Okazaki who is pressured by two defenders, without any support. He holds the ball up so well, allowing the support to arrive and eventually winning a free kick. The Japanese striker is causing Martinez all sorts of problems in this first half!
Mainz win a free kick on the left, and Geis will be the one to take it and send in a cross. He floats the ball over the head of Muller near the far post and it runs out for a goal kick.
STAT ATTACK: Bayern have gone 62 league games with a goal. The last time they failed to score was on April 14, 2012 - a 0-0 draw with Mainz at the Allianz Arena.
OKAZAKI! Park makes a nice run up from his left-back position and sends a lofted through ball in for Okazaki who chips Neuer but hits the post! The offside flag is raised, but very late, so it wouldn't have counted anyways. Still some very encouraging play from the hosts has left Bayern with something to think about.
Lovely move from Mainz! Geis picks out Okazaki with a lovely pass and the striker does so well to beat Martinez and lay off for Choupo-Moting. The return pass would have Okazaki through on goal, but Boateng reads the play so well to get across and sniff out the danger.
Alaba with possession on the left, and he urges his teammates to provide his support. That is very uncharacteristic of Bayern, who usually offer support in numbers to the ball carrier. Mainz doing an excellent job of pressuring the ball and taking away space in midfield.
Okazaki puts Martinez under some pressure and seems to have the center-back beaten. Neuer reads this so well and charges 20 yards out of his goal to boot the ball back up the pitch just a split second before Okazaki can get there.
Bayern win a corner now as it's finally worked up the pitch, but Kroos can't get his cross by the first defender as it's cleared. Right back up with it comes Robben, however, and his give and go with Muller nearly sends him in on goal, but Bell is up to the task defensively.
After conceding a few fouls in the opening stages, Martinez wins one now as he collides with Okazaki in mid-air. The two have been going at it on several occasions, as the Spanish defender has likely been tasked with the responsibility of keeping a close eye on the prolific Japanese striker.
STAT ATTACK: Only Bayern (7) have conceded fewer goals in front of their home fans this season than Mainz (13).
The visitors are just starting to take the game over a bit now. They still seem to be lacking in quality as they move further up the pitch. Aside from an early Robben shot, Karius really hasn't been tested in goal so far, and hasn't had much to worry about, either.
Geis tries to switch the play and has Muller on the right who escaped his marker in Boateng, but his first touch isn't good enough and Bayern break on the counter. Kroos has options, but waits a bit too long to play it off for Robben. The Dutchman has little space to work with at this point and Karius comes out of his goal to collect.
Bayern back in attack now and Robben's shot takes a deflection, going behind for a corner. The cross is delivered by the Dutchman and it's headed out to Alaba who scuffs his shot. Bayern just looking a little out of sync at the moment.
The hosts keep possession well in the attacking third. Okazaki picks out Choupo-Moting in the box but he's miles offside and the pressure is relieved. Still, some very encouraging signs from Mainz early on, as Thomas Tuchel claps his team on from the touch-line.
STAT ATTACK: Mainz's only three home defeats this season came against teams above them in the standings (Schalke, Leverkusen, Dortmund). Bayern is the only team above Mainz that has yet to visit the Coface Arena.
MULLER! The hosts look very dangerous, testing Bayern's defence early on here. Nicolai Muller gets into a good position and beats Boateng, but opts to stab his foot at the ball, sending his shot straight at Neuer. He had Okazaki to his left if he just could have pulled it back, we could have been looking at a 1-0 Mainz lead.
Chances at both ends now. Choupo-Moting is played in on goal, but Neuer surges out of his box and just beats the Cameroon international to the ball to clear the danger. Back the other way go Bayern and Alaba tries a powerful shot from distance that bounces just wide of the far post.
CHANCE GOES BEGGING! Koo is sent in on goal via a lovely ball from Okazaki. The South Korean international has acres of space and the goal at his mercy, but takes way too long to make a decision and send a weak ball into the center of the box that Boateng deals with easily. There's no reason for him not to have a shot there!
Okazaki wins a free kick after Martinez takes him out. It's taken quickly and Choupo-Moting appears to be in past Lahm, but the flag is up for offside.
ROBBEN! Alaba crosses in for Muller, who sends it across the face of goal. Moritz is there, but his poor clearance attempt is set straight to Robben who has a clear look at goal. His right-footed shot is stopped well by Karius! Disaster averted for Mainz.
Barely time to settle in and we have an injury delay, and it doesn't look good. Mandzukic and Koo collide and the Croatian looks to have taken the worst of it, as he goes down clutching his knee.
Bayern kick-off and we're underway. The visitors wearing their dark blue kits, moving left to right, while Mainz wear their red tops and white shorts.
The players seem in good spirits as they make their way out onto the pitch. We're approaching kick-off - could this be a title clinching day for Bayern? We'll find out!
Mainz fans raise their scarves and sing in unison as 'You'll never walk alone' echoes through the loudspeakers at the Coface Arena.
STAT ATTACK: Mainz have posted a respectable record against Bayern at the Coface Arena. They have lost just two of the past four visits from Die Roten and four of seven all-time, winning twice and drawing once.
MAINZ XI (4-3-3): Karius; Popesch, Bell, Noveski, Park; Moritz, Geis, Koo; Muller, Okazaki, Choupo-Moting.
BAYERN XI (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Lahm, Martinez, Boateng, Alaba; Schweinsteiger, Kroos; Robben, Muller, Ribery; Mandzukic.
The teams have been announced, so let us have ourselves a look at today's starting line-ups:
Mainz are fighting for the fourth and final Champions League spot, not something many thought would be the case at the start of the season. Wolfsburg are creeping up behind them, only a point back, but the O-Fives can pull level with Leverkusen (who play Hoffenheim on Sunday) at 44 points with a shock win over Bayern today. While the odds may be stacked against them, fighting for a Champions League place with Leverkusen, Schalke and Wolfsburg at this stage of the season has to be considered a success by coach Thomas Tuchel.
Today could shape up to be a special one for Pep Guardiola and Bayern Munich. The club can clinch their 24th league title today with a win and anything but a Dortmund victory at Hannover. The defending champions also continue their quest for an undefeated season, something that has never been done since the creation of the Bundesliga.
Good afternoon Bundesliga fans around the world, and welcome to today's clash between table toppers Bayern Munich and Champions League hopefuls Mainz at the Coface Arena. I'm Alex Moretto and I'll be your in-game host, guiding you through the match LIVE as it happens!
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