What were we expecting? While it may have been so that Bayern have come up victorious in their previous two games, scoring 14 goals in the process, and while it may have been so that our opponents Hertha presently lie in 17th, one would be forgiven for heading into this match with a feeling of trepidation. Veritably, not only had all of our fourteen goals over the week had come at the Allianz Arena, we had yet to register an away win in the Bundesliga since the 11th of December, and even then, that was only against Stuttgart. To compound our pessimism, both Jupp Heynckes and Arjen Robben contracted a savage cold and initially looked doubtful for the trip to the capital. Though Lady Luck may have frowned on Die Bayern, we pulled together, and when all is said and done and the fat lady sometimes known as Sebastian Hellmann sings, I can only look back and say this game turned out very well indeed.
From the moment the inimitable and mild-mannered Tobias Welz conducted the coin toss, destiny ordained a Bayern win so easy it would make a walk in the park blush with red tears of shame. For the first 8 minutes, die Roten were fully in control of the game, playing exquisite passes and displaying the true form of a team five points behind in second place by deftly failing to convert what should have been gilt-edged chances. All this was put to rest in the 9th minute, as Thomas Müller flew into the box from the right flank and drove a shot that would have decapitated an elephant past the helpless Thomas Kraft to establish a 1-0 lead. It would be left to Arjen Robben to (yet again) double Bayern’s lead from the spot in the 12th minute, following a reckless challenge on Thomas Müller in the area. Seven minutes later, the Dutchman would add another to his own tally a la Gimli in the Return of the King (this goes some way to explaining the various groin injuries the winger has accumulated during his time in Bavaria).
The game would simmer down for the remaining 25 minutes. The Old Lady of Berlin would regroup and began an assault upon Bayern’s goal as mentally disciplined and composed as the reputationally late Jason Russell, and would more likely than not have eventually put one past Manuel Neuer were it not for the impassable defensive presence of Holger Badstuber. This swashbuckling play and the mysterious disappearance of David Alaba led to Hertha’s best chance, which came in the 38th minute from a Raffael corner, though Toni Kroos’ clearance from the line made sure the Blauweissen would not give the scoresheet the slightest trouble. Raffael would again worry the Bavarians in this stage of the match, nearly bagging one himself from an overhead kick that would have had a shout for goal of the season had the Brazilian not tripped on the wet Olympiastadion turf and fell in the most exaggerated manner possible.
All things must past, and so it would be with the capital club’s attacking spell. Bayern would be quick to extend their lead five minutes into the second half, as Mario Gomez converted a penalty idiotically given away by Alfredo Morales. A minute later, Hertha goalkeeper Sascha Buschert, substituted on for Thomas Kraft at the halfway mark after the latter left the pitch with a damaged heel, would pick the ball out of his net a second time, as Toni Kroos would take advantage of a bate of confusion in the box caused by Thomas Müller and Arjen Robben to score the fifth goal of the match. From this point on, our boys in red took it down a few notches, contentedly passing the ball up the pitch to one another, occasionally toying with the Hertha defence, but making nothing out of it. A third penalty, again conceded by Morales and cooly converted by Arjen Robben, would reinvigorate the Bavarians, giving Heynckes’ men the initiative to make it a third consecutive seven goal victory. It looked as if this milestone might have been achieved when Luiz Gustavo was played into the box by Toni Kroos, but the former Hoffenheim midfielder made yet another late error, bungling the ball into the arms of Buschert. The match would continue for 9 minutes more before, mostly without incident.
Despite this resounding triumph, Bremen would do a Bremen and give up an entirely winnable point at Signal Iduna Evonik Deutsche Bank Coca-Cola Glorious People’s Republic of Nordrhein-Westphalia Park, completely failing to test Roman “equal rights” Weidenfeller’s goal. Despite all we have seen and done, we remain five points behind the Culture Club. Such is life.
A few points:
- Luiz Gustavo and David Alaba: Yet again, the Brazilian has shown himself to be something of a weak link in the team, while David Alaba gave one the worst left-sided performances since Tony Blair. Perhaps it would be prudent for Heynckes to move Alaba up to Gustavo’s defensive midfield spot for the cup tie against ‘Gladbach, perhaps experimenting Diego Contento at left-back.
- Toni Kroos has been sublime throughout the last three games. Bastian Schweinsteiger is no longer injured. This will be interesting, to say the least.
- Tall, gaunt, trouserless, with a dark and sinister glint in its eye: it wasn’t Neven Subotic who stood looking dejected with Hertha’s players after the game, it was a massive wolf in a Hertha jersey.
- Nils Petersen didn’t play. Heynckes doesn’t trust in youth. Sack him, immediately.
- Manuel Neuer: Sweet little Lena was absent throughout the 90 minutes. If you spend €18mil on a player, the very least you can expect is for him to play. Sack Nerlinger, immediately.
- In the SKY pundits Tippspiel, Steffen Freund predicted a 2-1 to Bayern, which, translated to ordinary human numerology, is 7-0.
- Michael Preetz is the saddest man in the history of the universe and doesn’t mind showing it. Otto Rehhagel’s boyish grin as they sat together in the dugout was a priceless contrast.
- In order to delegate free kick taking responsibilities Franck Ribery and Toni Kroos indulged themselves in the psychologically intense schoolyard game of rock-paper-scissors. Franck took paper while Kroos went with rock. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions from that.
- 0-1 Müller (9′)
- 0-2 Robben (12′)
- 0-3 Robben (19′)
- 0-4 Gomez (50′)
- 0-5 Kroos (51′)
- 0-6 Robben (67′)
- Hertha BSC:
- Sascha Burchert (Kraft, 46′)
- Alfredo Morales (Perdedaj, 46′)
- Pierre-Michel Lasogga (Ramos, 72′)
- FC Bayern:
- Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (Müller, 61′)
- Danijel Pranjic (Robben, 70′)
- Rafinha (Ribery, 73′)
Team stats (Hertha-Bayern):
- Ball possession: 33% – 67%
- Shots taken: 8 – 18
- Passes completed (in %): 217 – 633 (76% – 89%)
- Corner kicks: 2 – 4
- Tackles won: 43% – 57%
- Fouls committed: 14 – 8
- Distance covered: 109,5 – 108,0
Leading player stats (Hertha-Bayern):
- Touches: Christoph Janker (46) – Jerome Boateng (113)
- Shots taken: Raffael/Ramos (3 each) – Arjen Robben (6)
- Passes completed: Andreas Ottl (33) – Jerome Boateng (98)
- Crosses attempted: Christian Lell (2) – Philipp Lahm (2)
- Tackles won: Peter Niemeyer (9) – David Alaba (12)
- Tackles won in %: Bastians/Ottl (62,5%) – David Alaba (92,3%)
- Distance covered: Peter Niemeyer (11,5) – Luiz Gustavo (10,9)
- Fastest sprint in km/h: Nikita Rukavytsya (32,3) – Philipp Lahm (32,2)
Next match: Wednesday at Gladbach (DFB-Pokal), 8.30 pm