Déja-vu for Bayern at Augsburg

Same result, different day. Augsburg must be sick of the sight of this lot. Photo: FC Bayern Munich

Same opposition, same result - FC Bayern recorded their second derby victory at neighbours FC Augsburg in the space of ten days after another 2-0 win in the SGL-Arena sent them through to the last eight of the German Cup.

There's something about cup competitions that produces drama levels higher than the norm. This was a 90-minute thrill ride and an altogether more memorable game. There were two quality goals, five efforts off the woodwork, as well as 38 fouls, seven bookings and a red card - a veritable treat of a contest to ring in the festive period.

Ten days ago, Augsburg and Bayern met in a Bundesliga game that, while it was a derby game, it seemed rather predictable that Bayern, having already sealed top spot in the league table for the Christmas period, would stroll to a 2-0 victory. This time, the Reds won by the same scoreline in an ultimately comfortable win for Jupp Heynckes' men.

Yet there were some nervous moments for them along the way. Augsburg pressed from the off and struck the post inside the first six minutes, before Franck Ribery was sent off for a slap on Augsburg's Ja-Cheol Koo early in the second half. It was a moment of madness from the Frenchman, especially after yet again proving his inestimable worth to the team in the first half by masterfully assisting Mario Gomez to break the deadlock.

The first period had been a captivating contest, with both sides playing attractive, pacey and expansive football. Manuel Neuer answered some of his critics with a brilliant reaction save to keep out Koo's deflected shot, and then made an even better stop to parry Sascha Mölders fierce drive away from danger. At the other end Xherdan Shaqiri beat two men and flashed a drive wide of the post, and Bastian Schweinsteiger went close with two efforts from distance, the second a beautifully struck half-volley from Ribery's cross.

After Gomez's strike, Bayern went as close as a team can get to doubling the lead, and they arguably should have done. Anatoliy Tymoschchuk, playing in place of Javi Martinez, smashed a shot from distance that struck one side of the bar, before Toni Kroos' volleyed follow-up hit the other side of the upright. Ukraine midfielder Tymoshchuk was actually unlucky not to have been awarded the goal, as replays showed the ball bounced over the line.

Following the break, Augsburg were given a lifeline after Ribery's sending off, but while they used their man advantage well, their Achilles heel - a chronic disability to make the most of their chances - came back to bite them again. As was the case ten days ago, Koo, Daniel Baier and Tobias Werner saw plenty of the ball, but the final pass to lone striker Sascha Mölders was poor time and again. Their best chance to equalise fell to Torsten Oehrl late on, but his first touch let him down and Neuer was able to smother his close-range shot.

Bayern had themselves threatened on the counter-attack when down to ten men through Schweinsteiger and the newly introduced Mario Mandzukic, both of whom were denied by brave Augsburg blocks. Their passage into the quarter-finals was sealed, though, with seven minutes to spare, as Shaqiri calmly stroked in Thomas Muller's pass for his second goal in as many games.

In many ways, this game told us everything that we already knew about both teams. Augsburg were, as expected, competitive from the first to last minute and more than played their part in a hugely entertaining game. They simply don't have any goal threat, however. In the Bundesliga, they have scored just 12 in 17 games. Admittedly, they have bigger problems to contend with, with their most pressing concern being surviving in the Bundesliga, and so this cup exit won't displease coach Markus Weinzierl too much.

For Bayern, this game proved just how strong their squad is. Martinez was missing from the starting line-up, but Tymoshchuk had a fine game partnering Schweinsteiger in the middle of the park; Gomez was given the nod ahead of Mandzukic up front and came up with the goods again with a typical striker's finish; Müller then came on to set up the deciding goal with Martinez also doing well from the bench. And, as well as Augsburg played, Ribery was barely missed in the second half.

The result had something of an inevitability about it, as Bayern bided their time and hit the opposition on the break to kill the game in very similar fashion to the league encounter ten days ago. This was ultimately a far more gratifying encounter than the league affair though.

With it being a knockout game, a derby affair and the last opportunity for both sides to impress before the commencement of the winter break, it seemed that the players went the extra mile to impress. All of us, except perhaps the Augsburg contingent, can feel well and truly slaked with our last fix of German football ahead of four weeks of sobriety.


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