Hungry Bayern Devours Hoffenheim

Saturday saw an ebullient Bayern Munich thrash an uncharacteristically hapless Hoffenheim 7-1 in the Allianz Arena.

The visitors - unbeaten in their four previous Bundesliga outings under new coach Markus Babbel - produced a wretched display against an effervescent Bayern team looking to drive away the demons of their 2-0 league defeat in Leverkusen just a week before. It worked.

The game was over as a contest after only 19 minutes with the home side already leading 3-0.

Mario Gomez opened the scoring after 5 minutes when, after a powerful Franck Ribéry build-up, he followed up a Thomas Müller shot that goalkeeper Tom Starke had pushed towards him. The second came 7 minutes later, when captain Philipp Lahm was bundled over in the box by Marvin Compper. Arjen Robben easily converted the penalty, hitting it hard and low to the keeper's right.

Toni Kroos scored in the same corner of the net in the 19th minute, exploiting the acres of space he was given to carefully place a low drive past the outstretched Starke from 24 metres.

Combining well as a team and still with fire in their bellies, the Reds continued to attack. Moving forward with purpose from the centre circle, Ribéry slid a well-timed pass to the advancing Robben, who danced round the keeper and fired home (29th min.).

Virtually all the play focused on Bayern moving through Hoffenheim's territory and there was little in the way of resistance (FCB enjoyed 61% possession over the 90 mins.). There were occasional forays into the Bayern half and one or two hopeful crosses were produced but these were comfortably swallowed up by the under-worked Bayern defenders.

Gomez scored his second ten minutes before the interval. Robben slipped it left to Ribéry, who drove for the by-line before crossing low at shoulder height. 26-year-old Gomez had no trouble in stooping to flick the ball off the back off his head and into the net.

Gomez grabs another hat-trick. Photo courtesy FC Bayern Munich'Super Mario' secured a hat trick after 48 minutes when he ghosted in unmarked at the back post from a Robben corner and directed his header past the keeper. Gomez remains the Bundesliga's leading goal-scorer with 21 to his name. He was given a standing ovation when replaced by Croatian Ivica Olic with a little over half an hour to play.

With an eye on Bayern's crucial Champions League meeting with FC Basle on Tuesday, there were more cheers when Bastian Schweinsteiger returned from injury in the 63rd minute.

Frank Ribéry was the next name on the score sheet, scoring the Bavarians' 7th after 58 minutes. Beginning the move deep in his own half, Robben powered ahead before supplying the 28-year-old Frenchman, who rounded the keeper and slotted home.

The final goal of the day - an own-goal from Brazilian defender Luiz Gustavo (ex Hoffenheim) - was a cosmetic change to the scoreline (7-1) that barely raised an eyebrow.

Hoffenheim coach Markus Babbel was realistic in his assessment at the post-match press conference. "I think we showed the opposition too much respect," he conceded. "We could have lost by a much greater margin." But Babbel's determination has not been dented. "We've been knocked down as a collective, and now it's up to us to pick ourselves up as a collective," he added.

Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes had more grounds for optimism. "The difference to the Leverkusen game [a 2-0 defeat] was that we performed well over 90 minutes," he said. "The players worked for each other and I'm very pleased with the overall display."
"It was great to see Mario Gomez taking his opportunities today and it gives us an important boost for Tuesday [FCB faces Basle in the Champions League]," he continued. "The players are hungry for success. I was optimistic before the game and I'm even more optimistic after it."

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