On a rain-swept evening in Munich, FC Bayern moved one step closer to their 23rd Bundesliga championship with a routine 9-2 win over Hamburger SV. The remarkable thing about the game was that the incredible scoreline didn't at all seem flattering or undeserved. FC Bayern played well within their capabilities but were so superior to Hamburg in every aspect that they were still able to rack up their fourth highest victory in the fifty years of Bundesliga history, falling just short of their 11-2 record.
With one eye cast on Tuesday's Champions League quarterfinal first-leg home game against Juventus, manager Jupp Heynckes decided to rest Marko Mandzukic, Franck Ribery and Thomas Müller. However, it was a well-drilled and organised Bayern team that took to the field, with the only point of contention surrounding the selection of the fourth defender. With regular left back David Alaba injured in training, and his back-up Diego Contento granted leave as his girlfriend is expecting their baby, it was Luiz Gustavo, normally a defensive midfielder, who filled in at left back. The rest of the team took its usual 4-5-1 shape with veteran Peruvian forward Claudio Pizarro granted only his third start of the league season. He was arguably the star player, netting four of Bayern's nine.
The goals started raining in after just five minutes. Hamburg started as they meant to carry on, being slow to close down and leaving much too much space for Bayern's stars. Xherdan Shaqiri, nominally the 'number ten' but interchanging fluidly to the left and right with Arjen Robben and Toni Kroos, picked the ball up thirty yards from goal. Turning swiftly, he was overlapped on the flank by Gustavo. He chose to ignore this option, however, and with the Hamburg defence retreating, fired a low shot into Rene Adler's bottom-left corner. Adler, who did nothing wrong for any of the nine goals, was possibly HSV's best player, as ludicrous as that sounds.
The second goal followed on eighteen minutes. Shaqiri, popping up on the right, slipped in Pizarro whose dangerous cross was cleared. From the resulting short corner between Shaqiri and Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger was left with a free header, which he duly converted. The Hamburg players looked dumbfounded. The third followed in similar circumstances on the half-hour mark. After Robben had half-rounded Adler, who recovered well to deflect for a corner, the resulting set piece was flicked on at the near post by Javier Martinez for Pizarro to nod into the empty net at the back post. This time the Hamburg players watched the replay on the big screen, looking for the culpable party. The situation didn't improve for HSV as only three minutes later an exquisite one-two between Robben and Pizarro lead to the Dutchman having a simple finish in front of a hapless Adler. Pizarro's part in the goal was a delightful back-heel which seemingly took out the whole defence. The fifth and final goal of the half epitomised Arjen Robben's impressive work-rate in recent weeks as he won the ball in midfield, freed Shaqiri down the left who hit the base of the post only for Pizarro to gratefully tap-in the rebound.
The second-half offered no respite for Hamburg as the sixth and seventh fell within a minute of each other soon after the restart. Pizarro completed his hat-trick with an impeccable back-heel from close range after good work from Robben before another was added while the stadium announcer was still commenting on the last goal. Hamburg were robbed of possession near their own goal by Pizarro, who prodded the ball into Robben's direction. The Dutchman punished Hamburg clinically with a delightful chip. Pizarro got his fourth with a simple tap-in after good work from substitute Müller before Hamburg finally got in on the act. After 74 minutes, a long shot forced a corner from which centre back Jeffrey Bruma rose unmarked to head in past Manuel Neuer. The joy, albeit small, was curtailed immediately as Ribery added his name to the scoresheet after cutting in from the left wing and firing into the opposite corner. With five minutes to go Hamburg won their second corner and with that scored their second goal, this time Heiko Westermann - also totally unmarked - nodded home inside the penalty box. Despite Bayern pushing for double figures, they failed to find a tenth in an incredible but somehow normal FC Bayern victory.
There will be cause for concern ahead of Tuesday with the way Bayern conceded two soft goals from corners. Nevertheless, with their squad depth and the imperious fluidity of the three players behind the striker, Bayern will go into the game full of confidence following their 'regulation' 9-2 win.
FC Bayern München: Neuer - Lahm (Rafinha 61'), Boateng, Dante, Luiz Gustavo - Schweinsteiger, Javi Martinez - Kroos, Shaqiri (65' Ribery), Robben (64' Mueller) - Pizarro
Hamburger SV: Adler - Diekmeier, Bruma, Westermann, Aogo - Rincon (57' Rajkovic), Badelj (81' Kacar) - Son (57' Arslan), van der Vaart, Skjelbred - Rudnevs
Goals: 1-0 Shaqiri (5'), 2-0 Schweinsteiger (19'), 3-0 Pizarro (30'), 4-0 Robben (33'), 5-0 Pizarro (45'), 6-0 Pizarro (52'), 7-0 Robben (54'), 8-0 Pizarro (68'), 8-1 Bruma (75'), 9-1 Ribery (76'), 9-2 Westermann (86')
Referee: Guido Winkmann