Special team set special marker

A beautifully sunny day in Munich and the football was just as pleasant. At least, for the home side... Photo: Jonathan HardingBayern Munich demolished another side in the Allianz Arena, with 1. FC Nürnberg this time the victims in a 4-0 defeat that sees Bayern reach a +70 goal difference in the Bundesliga.

The Heynckes' selection merry-go-round rolled its way around again as post title-winning changes were made ahead of Bayern's home game against 1. FC Nürnberg. Emre Can, an exciting midfield prospect, made his first Bundesliga start alongside a line-up that boasted both Claudio Pizarro and Mario Gomez, with the Peruvian showing the squad's strength in depth by playing behind the striker.

The selection of the aforementioned changes should not detract from the determination this Bayern team have from continuing their incredible season, breaking records and dismantling opponents in the process. That much was clear in the opening minute as Franck Ribery powered down the left, opening up the play for Anatoliy Tymoshchuk who forced a good save out of Raphael Schäfer. Daniel van Buyten's effort from the resulting corner called on even greater reflexes but Nürnberg's goalkeeper responded once again.

It was far from apparent that the Bundesliga title was all wrapped up. Despite the personnel changes, Bayern showed what they have all season: abundant amounts of pace, intent and intelligence. As a result, it was no surprise to see the lead come their way within the opening five minutes. Jerome Boateng the unlikely scorer but his half-volley from just inside the area was technically superb and left Schäfer with no chance.

Michael Wiesinger, a former Bayern player, has turned around the visitors' season, leading them on a run of nine undefeated matches. His side though, as so many do when they come to Munich, struggled to find their rhythm.

Boateng was seizing on the confidence that a goal like his can provide and, having won the ball in midfield after a scrappy passage of play, surged forward before releasing Mario Gomez on the left-hand side of the box. In typical Gomez like fashion, the 27-year-old slid the ball low into the bottom corner. 2-0. Bayern were clearly in the mood.

Soon enough, Bayern's exquisite football was rewarded with another goal. Rafinha found space on the right to drill an effort across goal and through Schäfer, who responded with vocal fury at his teammates. The destruction of Hamburg was looking far from an anomaly.

Can, the sort of Jay Gatsby that a nineteen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, was composed and confident in midfield but it was Ribery, captain for the day, who was once again the source of inspiration. Nearly all of his forward runs brought on cheers that rang around the stadium as the collective waited with bated breath.

This relatively local derby was showing little sign of the usual characteristics associated with this type of fixture. Then again, Bayern have been far from 'usual' this season, and two minutes into the second period, there was more evidence on show. Rafinha's tug on Mike Frantz gave the visitors a penalty but Starke made an incredible save with his head to deny Simons.

Xherdan Shaqiri was soon in on the act. A corner fell to the bull-shaped winger and he cut back inside the defender to fire past a despairing Schäfer. Heynckes' most dominant characteristic this year has been his ability to motivate his players, regardless of opposition. Having seemingly struggled at times last year in a number of league games, Heynckes' has sought to remove that arrogance and replace it with cyclical quality. Although maybe an issue in Europe at times this season, it has certainly not been the case in the league and their game against Nürnberg was no different.

The highly touted 17-year-old central midfielder Pierre-Emil Hojbjerg was brought on with 20 minutes to go for his Bundesliga debut (and became Bayern's youngest ever Bundesliga player) but the speed had all but left the encounter as it wound down towards its inevitable conclusion to the sound of the victorious home support.

The German cup semi-final is on Tuesday night. The thought of losing is beyond comprehension and not merely because Bayern have won 19 games without conceding this season. This is a special Bayern side and every single one of them is determined to make it a special year.

Bayern Munich: Starke - Rafinha, van Buyten, Boateng, Contento - Tymoshchuk, Can - Shaqiri (70' Hojbjerg), Pizarro, Ribery - Gomez

1. FC Nürnberg: Schäfer - Balitsch, Nilsson, Klose (55' Plattenhardt), Pinola - Simons - Frantz (82' Ildiz), Kiyotake, Feulner, Esswein - Pekhart (46' Chandler)

Goals: 1-0 Boateng (5'), 2-0 Gomez (17'), 3-0 Rafinha (24'), 4-0 Shaqiri (56')

Referee: Michael Weiner
Attendance: 71,000


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