Beautiful, just beautiful

Once again, Manuel Neuer had very little to do for Bayern. Photo: WikimediaHeynckes must have felt that this was the perfect time to play Schalke 04. Bayern's visitors in the Allianz Arena are in a crisis, make no mistake about it and the arrival of Jerome Boateng, Arjen Robben and Mario Gomez to the starting line up suggested Jupp felt the time was right to rotate.

Schalke looked positive on paper, going with three in attack but the opening stages were all the home side as Bayern looked to have recovered that drive that had been lacking of late in the Allianz. Robben miscued a header before Hoeger's light touch was deemed enough by Gagelmann to award the home side a penalty. David Alaba stepped up and slotted coolly into the bottom corner, punishing Schalke's lack of imagination with a deft touch.

Jens Keller seems to have taken Schalke's ability to hold the ball away from his side and without that against most teams, let alone Bayern, your task is invariably harder. Schweinsteiger failed to connect with another headed opportunity but made up for it shortly afterwards with a gorgeous free kick. Schalke's wall failed to do its job properly but that shouldn't take away from Schweinsteiger's beautiful execution from a central position that saw the ball clip Hildebrand's right post before nestling in the bottom corner.

Gomez fed through Robben as the first half wound down but Kolasinac did well to hustle him out of a chance. A quiet first half for the Dutchman and as much as Gomez had been busy, it was the clever Martinez and the ever-lively Ribery that had provided much of the inspiration.

Keller made no changes and Bayern lapped it up with a lovely third goal only six minutes after the restart. The ball into the box found its way to Gomez. The slick striker might have opted for a back heel last year but something has changed. He had the composure to flick the ball back to the unmarked Alaba who side-footed into the bottom corner. It was flowing football and as much as the visitors were allowing it to happen, Bayern were looking their most fluid since the start of the second half of the season.

Everything was going perfectly, except for Arjen Robben. Reminiscent of his infamous World Cup Final miss against Spain, the Dutchman found himself alone in front of goal but missed the opportunity to score. He's been just short of the magic that we saw two seasons ago and now he's under pressure for it. Schweinsteiger was taking full advantage of the space he was being awarded and just as he did for his set-piece goal, he showed great technique for Bayern's fourth. He declined the chance to shoot, flicked the ball up over the top of the defence to Robben. Bayern's number ten passed to Gomez who finished between the defenders on the line to make it four shortly after an hour.

The 'out-of-sight' goal prompted Jupp into what might be considered core changes as Lahm, Schweinsteiger and Ribery all made way with 20 minutes remaining. Gomez slide in Robben's long-range effort but was flagged offside as Schalke crumbled in Bayern's hands. The final whistle was one welcomed by the away side and cheered in by Bayern, who looked as dominant as their statistics suggest. The only thing that was missing was a Robben goal but they've certainly got enough time to rectify that.

With the Champions League and Arsenal looming, Bayern first have to contend with an away trip VfL Wolfsburg next Friday, February 15th at 20.30 CET. It almost doesn't matter who Jupp selects, does it?

Bayern Munich: Neuer - Lahm (73' Rafinha), Boateng, Dante, Alaba - Javi Martínez, Schweinsteiger (72' Gustavo) - Robben, Kroos, Ribéry (72' Contento) - Gomez

FC Schalke 04: Hildebrand - Kolasinac, Matip, Metzelder, Höwedes - Jones, Neustädter, Höger (64' Raffael) - Bastos (72' Bastos), Pukki, Barnetta

Goals: 1-0 Alaba (19' pen.), 2-0 Schweinsteiger (32'), 3-0 Alaba (51'), 4-0 Gomez (63')

Attendance: 71,000
Referee: Peter Gagelmann


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