Bullish Bayern warm up for Real test with a big win
A perplexing match for sure but Bayern Munich managed to come from behind twice to overwhelm Werder Bremen in the second half on a fine footballing afternoon in Munich. Bremen's Theodor Gebre Selassie and Aaron Hunt sandwiched goals between Franck Ribery's strike in the first half but a quick brace from Claudio Pizarro, a Bastian Schweinsteiger header and a trademark Arjen Robben drive in the second was enough for the hosts.
Pep Guardiola made a few changes -- looking for form, maybe -- as Mario Goetze replaced Toni Kroos, Javi Martinez took up his rightful place at the six ahead of Philipp Lahm, Thomas Mueller featured at right-wing while Pizarro got the start as forward, and Bayern Amateure product Mitch Weiser played out of position at right-back.
- Report: Bayern 5-2 Bremen
A rest for key players heading in to Tuesday's Champions League semifinal second leg against Real Madrid led to Bayern struggling, rather depressingly, throughout the first 45 minutes. Perhaps the only bright spot was Ribery's equaliser 20 minutes in, after a perfect slotted pass from Pizarro released the Frenchman down the left.
It would be easy to blame young Weiser as the scapegoat for defensive frailties in the first half, as things got markedly better in the second when he'd make way for Lahm. Gebre Selassie's opening strike found Jerome Boateng sleeping and the Czech found a perfect cross from Cedrick Makiadi.
Bayern pinned Robin Dutt's men in to their half at times but the Green-Whites struck a second time when Aaron Hunt split the centre-backs after a pin-point Franco di Santo through-ball.
Somebody at the Allianz Arena involved with the technical side of things may get a talking to soon, as the scoreboard showed 2-1 to Bayern towards the end of the half -- wishful thinking, perhaps?
They need not have worried, though, as Bayern came out storming the second.
Pizarro shot a quick-fire brace against his former side in the second half -- having featured 159 times for Bremen, scoring 89 -- and although he politely refused to celebrate his opener, he got a little loose for the second. The Peruvian constantly shows up when called in to action and still has the wherewithal to be a factor. While not the speediest, his slide-rule through balls and his unerring nose for goal shows he's still a threat in the Bundesliga and happy in his limited role.
Ribery's inclusion on the scoreboard coupled with Schweinsteiger's header just might show that the pair -- who have been criticised of late -- just may still have something to offer after several sub-par results. Earning their way in to Guardiola's XI on Tuesday, perhaps?
Despite the pair's immediate return to form, the star of the match would be Robben, yet again. Just 40 seconds after coming on for Dante, he juked his way across the top of the box, coolly striking a left-footed drive past Raphael Wolf.
While Robben has been consistent all season, the frailties of Ribery and Schweinsteiger have been exposed recently. For Bayern Munich to perform at the highest level, the trio must all be in sync. With an uninspiring 45 under their belts and an utterly dominating second half, there's much to ponder for the very astute Guardiola.
He's lately been worried about his tactics versus the footballing culture of Germany but for now, he needs to figure out how to get past Real Madrid in the Champions League.