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Football Whispers

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Football Whispers
 By Mark Lovell

Franck Ribery the bright spot in rare Bayern Munich defeat

After 15 consecutive wins in Munich this season, league-leaders Bayern slipped to their first home defeat, suffering a 2-1 reverse against an admirable Mainz side.

As is their custom under Pep Guardiola, Bayern dominated possession to the tune of 78 percent, but the German champions were dismantled after a Mainz masterclass in counter-attacking football was expertly finished off by Jairo Samperio on 26 minutes. Arjen Robben did restore parity after 64 minutes, but another sublime breakaway goal four minutes from time from substitute Jhon Cordoba gave the visitors' a shock win. No doubt, the "Old Lady" would have been taking interested notes in Turin ahead of the Champions League return against Juventus.

Bayern's nearest domestic challengers, Borussia Dortmund, got the job done in Darmstadt, closing the gap to five points at the top of the table ahead of Saturday's "Klassiker".

Here are the ratings from a morose Bavarian capital.

Bayern MunichBayern Munich
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Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):

GK Manuel Neuer, 6 -- Skipper for the evening and the only German-born player in the Bayern Munich starting lineup. The ever-present goalkeeper wasn't called upon to make a save of note and yet conceded two goals. There were shades of the 2014 Champions League loss to Real Madrid as Bayern were twice dissected on the counterattack.

DF Juan Bernat, 6 -- Bernat was a real threat going forward and only the exceptional Mainz goalkeeper Loris Karius denied the Spaniard a rare goal after 15 minutes. However, Bernat did miss a crucial header in the build-up to the visitors' clinically executed opening goal and the winner also came down Bayern's left-flank.

DF David Alaba, 6 -- After impressing alongside Joshua Kimmich, Alaba didn't look as comfortable paired with Medhi Benatia. Still seems a bit of a waste to see the supremely talented Alaba in centre defence but needs must, for the moment.

DF Medhi Benatia, 5 -- All in all, Bayern actually looked more vulnerable at the back with the Moroccan making his first start of 2016. In his favour, Benatia is strong in the air and a real threat from set pieces.

DF Rafinha, 5 -- Back from suspension and immediately added another yellow card to his collection, his sixth of the season.

MF Arturo Vidal, 7 -- Given a breather at the weekend, sitting out his first Bundesliga game of the season. Appears to be coming into improved form, testing the inspired Karius on a number of occasions. That said, the Chilean's challenge on Julian Baumgartlinger in the box was far too passive as his side slipped to an unexpected defeat.

MF Franck Ribery, 8 -- After three impressive cameos as a substitute, the 32-year-old Frenchman was a constant menace throughout in his first Bundesliga game start in over a year.

Despite defeat, Bayern supporters will be bolstered by the performance delivered by Franck Ribery ahead of next week's Champions League clash.
Despite defeat, Bayern supporters will be bolstered by the performance delivered by Franck Ribery ahead of next week's Champions League clash.

MF Thiago, 5 -- A very patchy performance and the Spaniard deservedly made way for Douglas Costa as Bayern chased the game.

MF Kingsley Coman, 5 -- Struggled to make an impression and given the hook five minutes after interval with Bayern a goal down.

MF Arjen Robben, 7 -- Lined up for the first time in over a year with his vibrant French sidekick Ribery to reform the much-missed "Robbery" duo. The Dutchman fired the equaliser with a trademark left-footed cracker and was Bayern's brightest spark for long periods alongside his old mate.

FW Robert Lewandowski, 5 -- Strangely subdued, bordering on the lethargic, even with Muller in support for the last half hour. Saving his best for BVB on Saturday?


FW Thomas Muller, 6 -- Toiled industriously for most of the second half but it wouldn't quite fall for him in front of goal after replacing Coman. A stat perhaps manager Pep Guardiola should be aware of: Muller has failed to score as a substitute since September 2009 with just two goals in 29 Bundesliga appearances as a not-so-super sub. Small consolation: Muller remains the only outfield player to have featured in every Bundesliga game this season for Bayern.

MF Douglas Costa, 6 -- Replaced the ineffective Thiago on the hour and breathed some belated life into Bayern before the late sucker punch.

Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.


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