Bayern Munich run Stuttgart ragged as Pep Guardiola's men shine again
Bayern Munich sealed their 1,001st Bundesliga success with a comfortable 4-0 win against struggling VfB Stuttgart on Saturday.
In similar fashion to their fabulous 5-1 stroll against Arsenal in the Champions League on Wednesday, Bayern ran rampant in the first half with goals from Arjen Robben, Douglas Costa, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller.
The Bavarians applied cruise control for large periods of the second half and downed their scoring tools, meaning the damage was kept at a respectable four for the visitors.
Here are the ratings as Bayern racked up their 14th straight win against Stuttgart to move eight points clear of Borussia Dortmund, who can close the gap on Sunday in the Ruhr derby against Schalke.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Manuel Neuer, 7 -- The ever-present Neuer claimed an eighth clean sheet of the season on his 12th start, although he did have to be alert to deny Stuttgart twice in the second half.
DF Rafinha, 6 -- Nothing remarkable to report, as the twice-capped Brazilian reached a century of Bundesliga appearances for Bayern.
DF Jerome Boateng, 7 -- Coasted through the first half but had to go off at the break with a muscle problem. It'll be interesting to see if he's fit for international action with Germany.
DF David Alaba, 6 -- Amid all the magic of a sublime first half, Alaba was caught in possession but Filip Kostic could only rattle the bar after 33 minutes. The Austrian can be forgiven his rare error after his spectacular performance against Arsenal in the Champions League.
MF Arturo Vidal, 7 -- Among all the rotation with other high-profile candidates, the Chilean has featured in every league match for Bayern. He had the first shot of the afternoon, which fizzed narrowly wide, after just four minutes. Vidal then nodded Coman's cross against the bar, which Muller nodded home for the fourth goal. He also crashed into the post, but bravely played on, as Pep Guardiola had used all his substitutions.
MF Joshua Kimmich, 8 -- Keen to impress against his former side on only his second start of the season. The 20-year-old buzzed around busily in midfield in place of Xabi Alonso. "Joshua had an unbelievable game and deserves more playing time," was Guardiola's appraisal after the final whistle.
MF Kingsley Coman, 6 -- The French under-21 international will kick himself for not getting on the score sheet, but he, too, found goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton too good on numerous occasions. Coman did manage to offer a comical moment with a shot that nearly hit the corner flag after 25 minutes. Perhaps this was proof that Bayern are mortal after all.
MF Douglas Costa, 7 -- Turned on the turbo for his 12th assist of the season, supplying Robben with the opener that released the floodgates. The Brazilian doubled Bayern's lead with a crisp left-footed strike that left Tyton stranded. It was his second goal of the season but his first since his debut against Hamburg on opening day. Given a well-deserved breather with the game in the bag.
MF Arjen Robben, 7 -- Scarily, Robben wasn't quite at his best after a seven-week layoff, but he opened the scoring after a superbly executed counterattack. The Dutchman should have added to his tally after the break but rather wastefully fired wide on occasion.
FW Thomas Muller, 8 -- Not to be overshadowed by Lewandowski, Muller got his 11th of the season and final goal of the afternoon five minutes before the break, nodding home from close range after Vidal's header rebounded off the bar. All this after Muller had set up Bayern's previous two goals with the normal efficiency.
On a side note, Bayern were always unlikely to lose after Muller had scored -- they have won 45 Bundesliga outings in a row and are unbeaten in 65 in total when he finds the net. The World Cup winner gracefully departed the scene on the hour to allow the returning Holger Badstuber his moment.
FW Robert Lewandowski, 7 -- Assumed his rightful position as the Bundesliga's top scorer with 14 goals when he stabbed home Muller's perfect assist into an empty net. With seven strikes on goal, the Polish striker could easily have added to his tally but was denied by Stuttgart's man of the match Tyton, who made 11 saves.
DF Medhi Benatia, 6 -- The Moroccan replaced Boateng at the interval and enjoyed an untroubled first league appearance since August.
DF Holger Badstuber, 7 -- Against the club where he played youth football from 2000 to 2002, the popular defender came on to standing ovations from both sides of fans on his first appearance since the Champions League quarterfinal against Porto in April. Welcome back after 200 days out.
MF Thiago, 6 -- Had to contend himself with the final 20 minutes as Costa came off with the game done and dusted.
Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.