Bayern Sink Augsburg
SGL Arena, Augsburg – Ho ho hum.
That’s the holiday sound coming from FC Bayern München as they head towards the winter break in the Bundesliga. Another match, another win.
Thomas Müller converted a penalty kick in the 40th minute and super-sub Mario Gomez scored two minutes off the bench in the 63rd minute as Bayern defeated FC Augsburg 2-0 to increase their lead on their pursuers in the Bundesliga. The loss puts Augsburg deeper into the relegation zone, along with SpVgg Greuther Fürth, they both sit 11 points from the safe zone with one match to play before the break. Fürth host Augsburg next week.
As for the team headed towards a brighter holiday season, Bayern sit 11 points clear of Bayer Leverkusen, who play Hannover 96 tomorrow, and now 14 points ahead of defending champs Borussia Dortmund, who lost 3-2 to VfL Wolfsburg at home.
Bayern were looking to make up from last weekend’s draw against Dortmund and started off on the attack. In fact, the hum from the Reds could also be the smooth running of the engine powered by Franck Ribéry. The offense clearly runs through him and the Frenchman led the offense that dominated first half possession, 58-42%.
However, credit the Augsburg defense. Markus Weinzierl had his troops follow a disciplined defensive strategy that allowed Bayern to run, but not finish. Ribéry was stymied each time by Kevin Vogt and back up, slowed down the attack and then disrupted the finish.
The offensive-starved Augsburg were not going to survive with a full-on attack, their hope would be a chance counter-attack, or perhaps a Munich error. Manuel Neuer made one, however was able to recover before Sascha Mölders could pounce.
A break in the scoring finally came after defender Gibril Sankoh’s inadvertent handball was ruled a penalty by referee Dr. Jochen Drees. Müller lined up, and calmly went to the right post, Mohamed Amsif went the other way and Bayern had a 1-0 lead.
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Augsburg were close to drawing even, Mölders had an excellent chance off a header, but it sailed wide and the teams went into the break.
There was a hop in Augsburg’s step at the beginning of the second half, probably realizing they can take the giant neighbors on. Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes had seen enough and decided to bring in Gomez for starting striker Mario Mandžukić. And like the previous two matches when Gomez entered, he made an immediate impact. Against Hannover, he scored after only 26.84 seconds. Last weekend versus Dortmund, he created chances that unfortunately didn’t pay off but still demonstrated his energy off the bench.
This time, a superb give-and-go with Ribéry freed up Gomez as he ran past the defense, got a clean shot off and beat Amsif to the top left. Score for Gomez, score for Bayern, 2-0. It was Ribéry’s 50th assist in the Bundesliga.
Gomez continued to pressure the now deflated Augsburg defense, but they held strong, not allowing more goals to be poured into their open wounds. After the match, Augsburg players were visibly disappointed.
“Every game is important, we want to stay in the top league so we need to earn points,” stated Amsif. “We should not make the mistake of looking at others, we need to focus on ourselves and earn points to get out of the relegation zone.”
“They had some luck getting the 1-0 lead and then it’s tough to play from behind,” said Baier. “We could have gotten the lead first. They had their best team out there, and could have won 4-0, but they only won 2-0.”
For Bayern, they will finish off the first half of the Bundesliga season on Friday when they host Borussia Mönchengladbach and look for another three points and inch closer to another league title.
“”I told my team before the match, this was not going to be a walk in the park,” said Heynckes in the post match press conference. “And the match was tough, as we saw in the 1st half that it was true.”
“We won the match and that’s the most important,” declared Gomez. “These are the matches we have to win if we want to be champions, and we won today.”
FCA will have a chance at some revenge as they host Bayern on December 18th in the German Cup.
“We will analyze the match, see where we made mistakes,” explained Weinzierl. “It will be a different match from a league match as it will be a cup match with everything at stake.”
Until then, Augsburg will have to contemplate how to climb out of the sinkhole and stay in the top flight.
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