Bundesliga Week 23 Recap: Mainz v Bayern 1-3

Operation Revenge was successful: Bayern wins against Mainz, takes revenge for embarrassing week 6 loss at home, Ribery with one of his best performances in a while.

More after the jump:

It’s been talked about a lot: Mainz’ 2-1 win in Munich which was their sixth in a row back then. Many believed that if you can beat the mighty FCB in their secure stronghold also known as Allianz Arena, you can also win the league title. Since then, things have changed. Mainz is still hoping for Europa League qualification but they lost the easiness that made them so popular months ago. And let’s not forget that their regular striker Adam Szalai is sidelined for the rest of the season.

Still, Thomas Tuchel was looking for a similar approach as in late September. That’s why he decided to let the young and yet rather unknown Petar Sliskovic play. The Croatian was supposed to do what Szalai did so well in Munich: exert pressure on Bayern’s CBs to make them nervous.

Starting Lineups

Bayern used the usual formation, Mainz played in a 4-4-2 formation with two central midfielders. A lot of changes were made during the match, you could often read the word ‘chess’ to describe what’s going on and I tend to agree. Van Gaal and Tuchel seemed to be fighting a tactical battle throughout the 90 minutes. Here are some of the changes made:

  • It all started when Tuchel switched the full-backs Zabavnik and Fuchs after about 20 minutes
  • van Gaal reacted by switching Pranjic and Gustavo
  • Mainz’s midfield often formed a diamond, sometimes with the help of one of their full-backs
  • Bayern’s defense was pure gambling especially in the second half. Luiz Gustavo for example started as left-back, then played as central midfielder (his favorite position) and later even as a center back

Of course there were more things going on but these were the most significant ones. Bayern’s front four once again proved to be valuable when not in possession of the ball. Like against Hoffenheim, they became an offensive bank of four that forced many turnovers.

It took the guests just 9 minutes to score. Franck Ribery crossed the ball to Arjen Robben who passed it directly to Bastian Schweinsteiger. After many attempts over the years, it was Schweinsteiger’s first headed goal in his Bundesliga career. Bayern didn’t stop attacking but couldn’t score a second one, Mainz looked completely lost. The aforementioned full-back switch was a wake-up call for the hosts who were now looking for the equalizer. Andre Schürrle’s shot closely missed the goal, other attempts weren’t accurate enough either or were stopped by Thomas Kraft so the first half ended with Bayern still leading 1-0.

The second half started with bad news: Kraft had to be replaced by Jörg Butt after Sliskovic’s knee accidentally hit his head in the first half. The break definitely helped the FCB, they were dominating again and scored another early goal. Thomas Müller put the ball into the net after a nice assist by Robben. 10 minutes later, Müller almost scored his second of the day but the ball only hit the post.

Mainz didn’t give up but that lead to a lot of counter attacks, one of them ended successfully when Mario Gomez scored his 18th goal of the season. Sami Allagui’s goal minutes later was a deserved one, Bayern was better but not 3 goals better, but it was just as unimportant since they couldn’t score again.

A 3-1 win for the FCB in an all in all entertaining match. Franck Ribery didn’t score but was brilliant, Thomas Müller on the other hand was a bit of a disappointment (especially in the first half) despite his goal. Jörg Butt did a great job as Kraft replacement and can’t be blamed for the conceded goal.

Goals: 0-1 Schweinsteiger (9′), 0-2 Müller (50′), 0-3 Gomez (77′), 1-3 Allagui (84′)

Subs:

FSV Mainz 05: Lewis Holtby (Sliskovic, 55′), Elkin Soto (Caligiuri, 63′), Malik Fathi (Polanski, 85′)

FC Bayern: Jörg Butt (Kraft, 46′), Toni Kroos (Badstuber, 64′), Breno (Müller, 80′)

Other league matches:

Nuremberg v Frankfurt 3-0 (Schieber, Mak, Cohen)

Hamburg v Bremen 4-0 (Petric, Guerrero x2, Ben-Hatira)

Freiburg v Wolfsburg 2-1 (Reisinger, Cisse; Helmes)

Hoffenheim v Cologne 1-1 (Novakovic OG, Mohamad)

Hannover v Kaiserslautern 3-0 (Schlaudraff x2, Abdellaoue)

Dortmund v St. Pauli 2-0 (Barrios, Gunesch OG)

Leverkusen v Stuttgart 4-2 (Kießling x2, Castro, Reinartz; Harnik, Kuzmanovic)

Gladbach v Schalke – Sunday

Next match: Wednesday @ Inter (Champions League), 8.45 pm local time

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