Allianz Arena - FC Bayern München wanted to show their embattled coach that they still want to play for him and send him off on a positive note. And they showed how much they care in a big way.
Arjen Robben netted a hat-trick as Munich destroyed Hamburger SV 6-0 Saturday afternoon in Bundesliga action. The win takes Bayern back to 4th in the table until tomorrow's action and removed the air of desperation before their Champions League match on Tuesday.
"Everyone saw today how Bayern can play," said lameduck head coach Louis van Gaal. "The match was great preparation for Inter Milan. I'm happy, and my team is happy for me."
Over the past two weeks, Bayern lost two league matches to remove any hope of winning the Bundesliga title and lost in the German Cup semi-final. The grumblings and questions got louder: how long will van Gaal last? Before the club lost any more ground, the club decided that he will leave at season's end. Thus a big win was necessary to get back on track.
The match started out slow on the scoreboard, despite many chances for the home side. Robben and Franck Ribéry were active up front, trying to set up the strikers up front, but Mario Gomez and Thomas Müller could not finish. Gomez had the best chance of the match at the 35th minute mark, doing a great job dribbling past the Hamburg defense and goalkeeper Frank Rost, but only found the far post. Müller's rebound attempt hit the crossbar.
Minutes later Daniel van Buyten also had a tremendous chance but he too found the crossbar. Hamburg were inviting the goals, but the finish was missing - until Robben burst down the near side, and blasted a shot past Rost in the 44th minute to break through 1-0.
Robben would double the score in the opening minutes of the second half. His free kick was too long for Gomez and Müller, but the two upfront were enough to distract Rost who let the ball slip by in the 47th minute. And the rout was effectively on. Shortly before the hour mark, Ribéry set up Robben after a nice run into the area and pull-back pass - the hat-trick was in the books.
From there, Munich continued to attack the now deflated Hamburg, with Ribéry and Robben relentless, opening up space for more shots. Bayern outshot HSV 17-10 and possessed the ball 59% to 41%. But the biggest indicator was the scoreboard.
Ribéry scored on a fast-break goal, outrunning the defense and finishing with a cheeky chip over Rost. Hamburg lost possession in midfield and let Bayern counter unmolested and Müller finished with his left. HSV defender Heiko Westermann finished the scoring when he mistakenly deflected a Ribéry pass into his own net.
Along with the win, the club celebrated defender Philipp Lahm's 100th match with the club in grand style. "It was of course great and important after being stuck in the critical situation," said the captain about the result. "We had no match during the week so we could prepare for this important match and the team stood up and delivered."
Bayern now set their focus on the one title they can win this year and they will face the club that beat them in last year's Champions League final. Inter is down 1-0 after Mario Gomez stole a goal late at the San Siro.
"We can now go into the match on Tuesday with a better mentality after this win," commentated Robben. "We have a 1-0 lead and we need need concentrate for 90 minutes, we have to move on to the quarter-finals."