Bayern Munich 3-0 Mainz - Lineups/Stats Bundesliga Fixtures/Results
True to his word, Louis van Gaal sent out his Bayern team in a 4-2-2-2 formation as Franck Ribery once again failed to make the starting eleven. The Dutch tactician retained the squad that earned a 3-2 win in Bremen last week, opting to keep his prized French winger on the bench but available as a trump card.
Mainz coach Thomas Tuchel welcomed back striker Aristide Bance, who replaced Adam Szalai as his team's lone man up front. Tuchel's only other change from the team that most recently beat Hannover 1-0 was to give Niko Bungert a starting role at right back, moving Tim Hoogland over to the left side of defence.
As per the usual, Bayern started the match with use of control and blistering pace, forcing the visitors to play on their heels. A series of attacks up the right side produced shots on goal for Ivica Olic and Mario Gomez, but the Mainz rearguard did just enough to prevent the opener.
Within a quarter of an hour, even Bance was moved back to a midfield-level role when playing on the defensive. The Burkina Faso striker occupied a right-central role, allowing his teammates to shift towards their left. Their defensive reorganization left Mainz with more bodies to combat the runs of Arjen Robben and Philipp Lahm, and within 25 minutes, Bayern's dynamic duo was well-contained.
Aside from a denied penalty claim, Bayern were unable to break the Mainz defence and produce a good goal-scoring opportunity until the half hour mark, when Robben again used his breakneck pace to burst towards the byline. His cross found Gomez directly in front of goalkeeper Heinz Mueller, and the German striker's chipped shot glanced off the post.
Moments later, Bayern finally did manage to win a penalty after Thomas Mueller was taken down by Nikolce Noveski. Goalkeeper Hans-Joerg Butt, who in his career had a 26 for 26 recrod in penalty-taking situations, stepped up to the spot and pulled his best Ribery impression, sending it straight down the middle. Heinz Mueller had no trouble making the save, and the game remained scoreless.
Meanwhile, Bance was causing Martin Demichelis all sorts of trouble on the attacking end. The Mainz striker, known for his pace and power, was far too fast for his marker to contain, and would surely have opened the scoring on 36 minutes if not for Butt's speed in coming off his line.
More penalty controversy came just before the half as Olic and Heinz Mueller simultaneously reached Gomez's cross. The ball had deflected off Mueller and begun to trickle towards the goal before Noveski used his hand to shepherd it back into his keeper's arms. It was hard to see in real time, but was the made difference between a claimed ball and a clear tap-in for the Croatian striker.
The half ended with Bayern having enjoyed 74% of the possession and taken 18 shots to Mainz's two, but the most important statistic, the score, remained 0-0.
As the second half began, the two teams took to the pitch in a snow storm. Only one change was made as the visitors sent in Elkin Soto to replace new signing Jan Simak.
The conditions on the pitch made playing a very difficult task. In addition to making players lose their footing, the snow made the ball either skid or lose pace as it travelled along the ground. Needless to say, the play was much more broken up than in the first half, which suited the visitors very well.
Bayern persisted however, and found success through Robben. The Dutchman kept towards the right touchline in an area that was untouched by the snow and allowed him to work his magic with little hindrance. Shortly before the hour mark, Robben raced towards the byline once again before crossing to an unmarked Thomas Mueller at the far post. The 20-year old German international fired on goal, but his effort was blocked, and a follow-up was saved by Heinz Mueller.
Following the resulting corner, Bayern finally broke the deadlock. Ironically, the home team benefitted from the wintry conditions. A Robben cross found Daniel Van Buyten open for a free header, and the Belgian defender headed low. The Mainz goalkeeper was well-positioned, but the ball slipped through his hands and into the net.
After the restart, Olic was taken off in favour of Ribery, and Bayern switched to a 4-3-3 setup. While slightly more defensive, Bayern continued to go for the goal with vigour. With 67 minutes gone, a decisive second goal was just barely missed as Schweinsteiger headed off the bar from Mark van Bommel's delivery.
As the final quarter hour approached, the crowd could feel the second goal coming. After Noveski made another defensive error, Robben got behind him and crossed for Gomez, but Heinz Mueller did well to punch away.
Still not satisfied with his performance, Gomez remained an intimidating force in the penalty area, and scored his first goal of the year just moments later. Lahm made a trademark run into the right side of the penalty area and crossed to his wide-open teammate, who this time made no mistake in tucking the ball into the net.
After the second goal, the game became more of an exhibition than anything else. As Adam Szalai replaced the tiring Bance, any chance of Mainz taking a point diminished. Bayern took their feet off the gas pedal, but made it 3-0 late on following Robben's second well-executed free kick in as many games.
The result sees Mainz remain eighth, while Bayern move back into first place.