FC Bayern München made another blistering start, but again had to endure a wobbly spell before rolling to a clear if somewhat flattering 4:1 win over relegation-threatened VfB Stuttgart. There is still plenty of work to do, as defensive problems persist.
This was perfect proof that the result does not neccessarily describe a contest. Stuttgart certainly had their moments, and can consider themselves a little unlucky.
Bayern strike early
Having suffered a shock 1:4 defeat against the Swabians in the final home match of last season, the Bayern players were determined to get off to a solid start. Right from the kickoff, the men in red looked to impose themselves and suffocate their opponents.
It would take just five minutes for the Niko Kovač’s side to get on the scoreboard. The energetic Kingsley Coman and Thomas Müller created a kerfuffle in the Stuttgart box, and with his back to goal Robert Lewandowski nudged the ball back to Thiago Alcântara. The Spanish international found the back of the net, threading the ball neatly through the crowd of white shirts and past ‘keeper Ron-Robert Zieler.
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) January 27, 2019
It was the perfect start for the Bavarians, who looked set to overwhelm their beleaguered opponents. Kimmich flashed a shot wide, Lewandowski was denied by the busy Zieler, and a swift exchange between Coman and David Alaba forced a desperate clearance. A second goal seemed inevitable.
Slack, and short of ideas
The Bavarians could easily have been two or more in front, but from nowhere Stuttgart were given a foothold. It was if seeking a second goal was too much of a task; for no good reason, the men in red began to coast. Passes started to go awry, and the pace dropped dramatically.
Markus Weinzierl’s side had started to get more of the ball, but there was a genuine sense of shock among the home crowd when Stuttgart found the back of the net. Thiago was unable to close down Anastasios Donis, and the English-born Greek international fired in a spectacular equaliser. The ball swerved past Manuel Neuer before slamming into the top right corner.
Having bossed the match, Bayern were clearly rattled. Alaba was booked for a silly foul on Steven Zuber, and Donis could very easily have put his team in front. With clear sight of goal, the Greek could only jab the bad straight at Neuer. Moments later, Niklas Süle had to pull out a top-drawer challenge to stop a bustling run from Nicolás González.
There was a chance for Bayern to retake the lead just before the break. Coman had both Kimmich and Lewandowski to his right, but chose to shot and found the side netting.
Shaky second half
Bayern emerged at the start of the second half with renewed vigour, and some huffing and puffing finally made the breakthrough five minutes short of the hour. Having replaced Javi Martínez, Serge Gnabry’s shot took a vicious deflection off Christian Gentner. Zieler had no chance.
Took a slight deflection on the way in but they all count 😓
— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) January 27, 2019
In seasons past, such a goal would have sent the opposition into a hasty retreat; this has not been the pattern this season. Stuttgart still felt that they could get something out of the contest, and continued to press. It all looked set to go to 2:2 when González had the goal at his mercy, only to see his shot crash off the base of the upright.
By now, the drama was coming thick and fast. Bayern broke quickly, Lewandowski was brought down by Marc-Oliver Kempf. The Polish international stepped up for the penalty and sent Zieler the wrong way, but he too found the base of the post. At times, it felt like a wind-up exercise.
As the contest entered its final quarter, Die Roten finally started to get things together. But once again they needed an error from their opponents. Zieler should have done better as he went to deal with the Kimmich corner, but made a complete mess of it. Leon Goretzka rose to head home, and finally there was some welcome daylight between the two teams.
With six minutes left, Bayern wrapped things up. Having looked off-key for most of the match, Lewandowski finally showed his class. Collecting a fine pass from Kimmich, the Pole rounded Zieler before finding the inside roof of the bet from a tight angle.
There was time at the end for Canadian starlet Alphonso Davies to make his Bundesliga debut, while James Rodríguez, on as a late sub, went close with a free-kick right at the death. Had Bayern scored a fifth, the result would have been beyond flattering.
— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) January 27, 2019
With leaders Borussia Dortmund hammering a hapless Hannover 96 5:1 at the Signal Iduna Park, Bayern remain six points behind in second spot – three in front of Borussia Mönchengladbach. This was yet another case of job done, another match where it could have gone either way.
There is still plenty of work to be done.
FC Bayern München – VfB Stuttgart 4:1 (1:1)
Thiago 5., Gentner og 55., Goretzka 71., Lewandowski 84. / Donis 26.
FC Bayern: Neuer (c) – Kimmich, Süle, Hummels, Alaba – Thiago, Martínez (46. Gnabry) – Müller (74. James), Goretzka, Coman (86. Davies) – Lewandowski
Stuttgart: Zieler – Beck, Kabak, Kempf, Insua – Gentner (c), Ascacibar – Esswein (90. Sosa), Zuber (87. Didavi) – Donis (74. Thommy) – González
Referee: Frank Willenborg (Osnabrück)
Yellow Cards: Alaba 33. / Gentner 66.
Red Cards: – / –
Shots: 19 / 7
Passes: 718 / 288
Completed Passes: 645 / 213
Pass Success: 90% / 74%
Possession: 60% / 40%
Fouls: 9 / 10
Offsides: 6 / 1
Corners: 8 / 1