FC Bayern München stretched their Bundesliga lead to fourteen points with a comfortable 3-0 away victory against fifth placed 1.FSV Mainz 05.
Pre-match, opposing fans in the impressive new Mainz stadium took every opportunity to voice their opinion as to the real pecking order in German football. The expectations were made audibly clear as 'minnows' Mainz hosted runaway league leaders Bayern Munich on a bitterly cold day in the Rhineland-Palatinate.
Witty songs were exchanged between the fans from one end to the other of the 34,000 capacity stadium. The 'Mainzer' are currently punching above their weight in a Europa League qualification spot, but showed great self-depreciation, singing ''we are only a carnival club''. The travelling Bayern fans displayed their usual confidence, proclaiming with absolute certainty that FCB will reclaim what is rightfully theirs - namely the Bundesliga title.
For the first 40 minutes of this match you might have disputed these expectations as the home side gave as good as they got against a subdued Bayern side. Thomas Müller once again proved the game changer, setting the Bavarians on the road to a facile away success with a goal five minutes before the break, somewhat against the run of play.
This was 'route one' football at its simplistic best. If this goal was scored by an English side, you might have had a few journalists scoffing at football from the dark ages. A typically long punt forward from keeper Manuel Neuer was flicked on by Mario Mandzukic to Toni Kroos, who chested down with aplomb into the path of the galloping Müller. The 23-year-old Bavarian latched onto Kroos's inch-perfect ball, calmly rounded the keeper, and dispatched into the corner of an unguarded net to fire in his 11th goal of a so far prolific season.
In a scenario similar to the one in Stuttgart last Sunday, all signs of resistance and life were sucked from Bayern's opponents. A brace of second half goals from Bundesliga top scorer Mario Mandzukic killed the game off as a contest. The Croatian notched his 13th (50') and 14th (57') league goals of the campaign, making the most of fine approach play from Bayern's attack-minded wing backs. Talented left back David Alaba gracefully glided down the left for Bayern, exchanging a one-two with Kroos before finding the quietly effective Mandzukic, who couldn't miss from close range. Philipp Lahm created Bayern's third, surging through from his right back position. Captain Lahm floated a delightful cross to the back post where marksman Mandzukic converted with a simple header.
Game over and carnival city celebrations were a bit of a damp squib. The home side were missing their Hungarian hit-man and top scorer Adam Szalai through suspension for the clash with the record German champions, whilst lanky defender Jan Kirchhoff was trying to impress his future employers after agreeing a summer move to Munich. You might call it a failed audition as he was outstripped at regular junctures against a rampant second-half Bayern.
Dominant Bayern made it 16 wins from 20 Bundesliga fixtures this term and have conceded just one goal away from home all season. Ex-Bayern midfielder Markus Feulner deceived Neuer from long distance in a misty 1-1 draw in Nuremberg in November.
Bayern extended their imposing lead at the summit to fourteen points, ahead of tomorrow's heavyweight clash between nearest challengers Leverkusen against champions Borussia Dortmund. Next up for Bayern is a home fixture against the completely out of sorts Schalke 04 and another three points is already expected.
1. FSV Mainz 05: Wetklo - Pospech, Kirchhoff, Noveski, Zabavnik - Müller, Baumgartlinger, Soto (62' Zimling), Malli (46' Risse) - Ivanschitz - Parker (84' Caligiuri)
Bayern Munich: Neuer - Lahm, van Buyten, Dante, Alaba - Javi Martínez, Schweinsteiger - Müller, Kroos (82' Gustavo), Ribéry (76' Robben) - Mandzukic (76' Gomez)
Goals: 0-1 Müller (41'), 0-2 Mandzukic (50'), 0-3 Mandzukic (57')
Referee: Michael Weiner