Something rotten in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia

Revenge is a dish best served cold they say and in the cold, Bayern were looking to do just that against the only side to have beaten them in the Bundesliga this season and, bearing in mind their sluggish form over their last three games, they needed a response more than a result.

Lahm, Mueller and Mandzukic were rested and Ribery wasn't fit so Rafinha, Schweinsteiger (returning) and Gomez were all back on the stage for their scene in the latest act. Most interestingly in the light of Martinez's struggle against Arsenal as the deep-lying playmaker, Heynckes opted to break his reliable holding partnership and play Schweinsteiger behind the striker with Gustavo in defensive midfield.

So with Schweinsteiger reading a new set of lines, how would Bayern fare? Apart from a couple of speculative efforts, the expected tactical exchanges dominated the opening half an hour. Leverkusen were too defensive and offered little for a side both at home and having beaten Bayern in the league already.

Bayern were the side in the ascendency but such is the dominant rampage that Bayern have been on this season that being on top normally translates as a laying siege to their opponents. Heynckes diligently pointed out last week though that demolishing sides was not a realistic target. Winning is though and Jerome Boateng, returning to the centre of defence, nearly repeated his headed goal from last week only to see Castro head off the line. Leverkusen's first and only real threat of the half came from Sebastian Boenisch's long drive, which Neuer tipped around the post.

Then, at a similar time to the one he scored against Hoffenheim, Mario Gomez proved that attacking presence can be permanent. For the man effectively labelled as the reason Bayern failed to win the Champions League last season, this goal must have been a moment of vindication. Xherdan Shaqiri's attempted cross-field pass was aimed at Robben but it ended up with Gomez instead. He drove forward with that renowned strength of his, powered past Boenisch and buried a low finish past Leno. A moment of magic is all it takes with this Bayern side. Just ask Hoffenheim, or Dortmund, or Duesseldorf...

Voeller called for "more risk" after the break and rightfully so. Bayern were not in top gear but they didn't need to be as Leverkusen appeared to still be fumbling for their keys. Once Leverkusen had found them and got themselves going, they were too slow in the final third. Bayern didn't really threaten in attack for the first 25 minutes of the second half and with the withdrawal of Gomez (Pizarro) and Robben (van Buyten), it was clear that Heynckes was quite happy to counter attack at best.

Almost instantly after those changes, Boenisch was allowed a free run at the near post, flicking on a header to Simon Rolfes who tapped in at the back post to equalise. Out of the eleven goals Bayern have conceded this season, five of them have been from set-pieces and in that sense, have been preventable, none more so than Leverkusen's equaliser.

Maybe Heynckes was tired, maybe he wanted a draw but when Tymoshchuk came on, Bayern essentially found themselves with only two attacking players on the pitch. Yet with three minutes left of the ninety, Schweinsteiger's rewrote the end of the act, one that included a new part for Wollscheid. A free kick on the right-hand side was curled in by Schweinsteiger and in bizarre fashion the ball deflected off Wollscheid's back as he turned away, leaving Leno no chance and handing Bayern a late winner.

It is unlikely to be the kind of performance that will have satisfied the appetite of Uli Hoeness but it keeps Bayern 20 points clear at the top, reverses the scoreline from the last fixture and, at least in terms of the result, is the best response to the defeat to Arsenal. Hamburg's visit to the Allianz next week could prove to be the real test as to whether Bayern have truly woken up or not.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen: Leno - Carvajal, Wollscheid, Schwaab, Boenisch - L. Bender, Reinartz (61' Hegler), Rolfes - Castro, Schürrle (46' Sam) - Kießling

FC Bayern München: Neuer - Rafinha, Boateng, Dante, Alaba - Javi Martinez, Luiz Gustavo (79' Tymoshchuk) - Shaqiri, Schweinsteiger, Robben (73' van Buyten) - Gomez (71' Pizarro)

Goals: 0-1 Gomez (37'), 1-1 Rolfes (75'), 1-2 Wollscheid (o.g. 87')

Attendance: 30.210
Referee: Peter Gagelmann

German Engineering Jobs
Write a comment ...
Post comment