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Bayern Munich

The case for the three candidates

Ballon d'Or
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Bayern overwhelm battling HSV in the end


All in all, a nice win. Mario Goetze recorded a brace for FC Bayern Munich, while Thomas Mueller and substitute Claudio Pizarro each added one of their own. Hakan Calhanoglu did net a consolation goal for embattled Hamburger SV -- still sitting 16th and occupying the Bundesliga's relegation play-off spot -- but the Bavarians ran out comfortable 4-1 winners. Funny that the two players most Bayern supporters were clamouring for in the second Champions League semi-final tie against Real Madrid -- Javi Martinez and Goetze -- made great impressions on the day. A little dollop of awesomeness from Pizarro made it all the better. The Spaniard Martinez, seldom used in his most outstanding role as a defensive midfielder this season, also grabbed the proverbial bull by the horns here. Whatever format Guardiola suggested to begin the match would end up being a 4-1-2-3 with Martinez as a single pivot in front of the back four. While wearing a confused expression on his face for much of the game -- did you see his look when he saw yellow? -- he certainly didn't play that way. Spraying passes, and staring down a desperate forward foray from HSV, he proved his worth in a crucial position. Sadly -- and wastefully, if true -- it's rumoured that captain Philipp Lahm will fill that position exclusively next season. Mario Goetze finally got his start in lieu of Franck Ribery, the Frenchman not making the matchday squad due to a slight injury. Ribery has been in less-than-stellar form after returning from buttock hematoma surgery, and may just have one eye on World Cup play in the summer instead of both on Bayern Munich. Given his time to shine vs. Hamburg Goetze delivered with force, scoring a brace (nearly a hat-trick, only for Thomas Mueller to get a slight last touch for his credited goal) and creating two additional chances in a fine all-round display. That HSV managed to block two Goetze efforts would be their only positives as Goetze was allowed to run rampant, often switching to the right to pair up with Arjen Robben in harassing Hamburg's left side. Goetze has recently expressed his displeasure with lack of playing time -- and for good reason, as it turns out. Pep Guardiola hasn't used Goetze as much as he should, instead showing loyalty to certain players. He'd be wise to use the young German midfielder as much, and as often, as he can. Peruvian silver-fox Pizarro once again delivered when asked. His late sub appearance, replacing Robben, saw his first run and shot at Rene Adler parried directly back to him. On the rebound, he executed a fine bicycle kick over the Hamburg goal-keeper for Bayern's fourth goal on the day. At 35 years young, Pizarro has remained a viable secondary option as striker at the club. "He is very special for me," said Guardiola back in February and with ten goals across all competitions this season (nine in the Bundesliga, one in Pokal), he very well should be. Despite only having started six matches on the year and having been subbed in ten times, he still lands highly on the Bundesliga scoring charts. Well-undervalued at around one million euros because of his age, the forward still has fight in him and a footballing intelligence only borne out of the sheer amount of time he's spent in the Bundesliga. It would be crazy for the Bayern board (and Guardiola) not to sign him up for another season as he seems content in his role as a back-up, happy to help out his squad when necessary. On the negative side, Jerome Boateng earned a needless red card in a confrontation with substitute Kerem Demirbay late in the match, slapping his face as Manuel Neuer arrived too late to break it up. He now joins Rafinha and Ribery as the most temperamental players in Bayern's squad. While Boateng won't be excluded from the DFB Pokal final, he'll miss Munich's last tune-up match at home against VfB Stuttgart before travelling to Berlin. Yet this will cause a shake-up in the Startelf regardless. With Holger Badstuber only recently returning to team training and Daniel van Buyten's astonishing drop of form, Guardiola may once again use Martinez in the centre-back position -- and just when the natural holding midfielder was doing so well. For Hamburg, they were lucky despite their loss to Bayern, as 17th placed Nurnberg lost 2-0 to Hannover 96 and 18th placed Eintracht Braunschweig lost 1-0 to Augsburg, keeping them one slim point ahead in the play-off zone. Mirko Slomka's men can also be proud of the fact that they had an impressive first half against the Rekordmeister -- it only started to fall apart for die Rothosen after Munich's second goal. They'll be looking ahead to next weekend's final Bundesliga match against Mainz 05 to get a positive result. The away Bayern support held up a banner saying "only seven days left in the Bundesliga" -- mocking the Imtech Arena's clock -- and the Dinosaur have a long road ahead of them. But for Bayern, there are positives to hold close despite their first-half difficulties. In the end, Guardiola put his best starting XI out and won convincingly.