Saturday, March 12, 2011

Bayern's "Robbery" Ends Losing Streak In Style

FC Bayern Munich wallpapersI think that it's fair to say that the last two to three weeks of Bayern Munich's season have been quite dramatic. First, Mario Gomez's late effort gave Bayern a precious away goal in their quest to gain revenge on reigning Champions League winners, Inter Milan. That result was followed by a crucial, do-or-die home game against Borussia Dortmund, one that was lost 3-1 and ended all hopes of a repeat as German champions. With the league over and the Champions League probably a bridge too far (even with that 1-0 win at the San Siro), the German Cup looked to be the Bavarian side's best chance of silverware, but a 1-0 home loss to a Raul inspired Schalke side laid waste to any cup winning aspirations.

Low on confidence, and with rumors of conflict in the dressing room, Louis Van Gaal announced last week that he would be resigning from his managerial post at the end of the season. Reportedly, this announcement was greeted with joy from some sections of the Bayern team, as Van Gaal's relationship with many of the playing staff had become taught with angst and unhappiness. Whether these rumors can be believed is questionable, but certainly, Bayern had the look of a team newly hopeful and confident as they lacerated Hambug at the Allianz Arena.

Interestingly, it was Hamburg who started the better side, and Mladen Petric was denied what would have been a terrific curling goal, by a stunning save from young German keeper, Thomas Kraft.

From then on it was all Bayern, and with about fifteen minuted to go until the half, Robben struck. Having been released down the left side, the Dutchman drove into the area, and smashed a shot bast the helpless, Frank Rost.  The rest of the half passed without much more goal mouth action, but that was soon to change come the second forty-five.

With virtually the first action of the second half, Bayern won a free kick several yards outside the arc. Robben sent in a curling delivery with his left peg, which eluded everyone, including goalkeeper Rost. Now two goals to the good, Bayern began to play freely and without worry, and it came to the surprise of no one that Robben completed his hat trick moments later.

With a three goal lead intact, forgotten winger Frank Ribery began to make the impact which he as so often failed to make for Bayern this season. Having been released down the left hand side, Ribery blasted past his marker before dinking a lovely shot over the keeper, for his first goal of the game. Ripping off his shirt in celebration, it was clear to see what the goal meant to Ribery, but even more encouragingly for the Frenchman, more was to come.

As the game wound down, and Van Gaal slowly substituted tired first teamers in preparation for Tuesday's meeting with Inter Milan, Hamburg continued to struggle. First, Thomas Muller delivered another clinical Bayern finish to put the reigning champions 5-0 to the good, and then a moment of magic from Ribery that will live long in the memories of all fans present.

Receiving the ball virtually on the by line, and with two Hamburg defenders surrounding him, nothing looked on for Ribery. But, displaying a piece of sublime skill, Ribery danced past his two markers and crossed the ball, which was sliced into the back of the net by Hamburg defender Heiko Westermann.

The show was complete, and as the final whistle blew to end Hamburg's torture, smiles could be seen on the faces of everyone of Bayern's coaching staff. To make the day even better for Van Gaal's side, the jubilant players were greeted in the dressing room with news of Dortmund's 1-0 loss in Hoffenheim, a result which offers the tiniest glimmer of hope in the title race.

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