And how much fun was that 90 minutes? Sure, Hoffenheim was helpless. But, we've played against helpless this season and come out on the wrong side of things. You know it's a good day when Uli Hoeness, in his "Where's Waldo?" scarf, was caught grinning like a mad man every time the camera cut to him. And, the camera cut to him seven times. Yeah.
We play our best football when we take our chances early, and Saturday, again, proved this rule. Tom Starke, Hoffenheim goalkeeper, looked bewildered after Mario Gomez opened the scoring on five minutes after scooping up Thomas Mueller's rebounded shot. And it only got worse for Herr Starke. Much worse. It was a pleasure to face a keeper who, for once, was not having the game of his life while playing us. He got sent the wrong way for Arjen Robben's penalty on 12 minutes and had no chance saving Toni Kroos' low 25-yard drive a scant six minutes later. Adding insult to injury, Arjen beat Tom in a one-on-one, and Mario scored, again, with a nifty header.
And this was only the first half.
The second half had Mario rounding out his hat-trick just three minutes after the re-start, while Franck Ribery added a seventh on 58 minutes. But, the biggest roar of the day came on 62 minutes when Bastian Schweinsteiger came on for Thomas Mueller. Yay! Yay! Yay! He's back. And all is right in the world, once again. It was lovely to see Tymo and Olic get some quality minutes as well, subbing in for Boateng and Gomez, respectively.
The only slight marring of a perfect 90 minutes came when Gustavo accidentally got one past Manuel Neuer while being pressured from Ryan Babel. But hey, Hoffenheim! We'll score your goals, too!
Imagine how different our matches against Leverkusen and Basel would have been if we had gotten the early lead? Well, we've got a chance to right the wrong tomorrow, as the Swiss side comes to Munich. We have to get a 2-0 clean sheet (or 3-1 if someone makes a mistake) to go through to the Champions League quarter-finals. No pressure though, boys! Bayern has overcome a first-leg deficit on eight different occasions, and we've beaten Basel in the Allianz the last three times we've matched up there.
Knocks sustained by Jerome Boateng, Arjen Robben and Mario Gomez should not affect the trio's availability for Tuesday's match. In fact, everyone's available except Daniel van Buyten and Breno. The question is, again, WWJHD?
Jupp isn't a fix-it-if-it-ain't-broke kind of dude, so I'm gonna go with: Neuer - Lahm, Boateng, Badstuber, Alaba - Gustavo, Schweinsteiger - Robben, Mueller, Ribery - Gomez. See what I did there? But, that's only because how do you not play Schweini if he's available?!
Basel won 2-0 away at Grasshopper (impossible for me not to giggle) this weekend and sit atop the Swiss League. They are missing Jo-Hoo (impossible for me not to giggle again) Park, Kay Voser and Scott Chipperfield. Their starting XI should be: Sommer - Steinhofer, Abraham, Dragovic, Degen - Shaqiri, Huggel, Xhaka, F. Frei - Streller, A. Frei.
This match is only part two of five crucial matches in 15 days. But, things are looking (RED) rosier after we've narrowed the gap with Dortmund to five points, and face a struggling Hertha Berlin next weekend. If we can manage to progress tomorrow through to the CL quarter-finals, it would go a long way to assuaging the stress of Bayern players and fans who have been caught up in their yearly "everything is wrong" mode. And, it does happen every single season.
Auf gehts der richtige FCB!
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