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Bayern Munich back atop Bundesliga after 3-1 win over Mainz 05

Matchday 13 in Germany’s Bundesliga kicked off with an entertaining match in Mainz. Motivated to keep pace with RB Leipzig, FC Bayern Munich defeated 1. FSV Mainz 05 3-1. Jack Grimse provides a recap as well as some deeper analysis of what took place Friday night.

Quick recap:

It didn’t take long for things to heat up at the Opel Arena. Following an emotional moment of silence dedicated to the Chapecoense victims, fans sang “Vamos Vamos Chape” in a great tribute.

The energy in the stadium may have energised the home side, as Mainz took the lead just four minutes in with a goal from Colombian striker Jhon Cordoba. Yunus Malli split four Bayern defenders with a through pass from just inside his own half, Cordoba raced past Javi Martínez, and finished to the far post past Manuel Neuer.

Mainz’s lead lasted just three minutes. Arjen Robben drew the attention of three Mainz defenders before passing to an unmarked Robert Lewandowski in the box. Not even a quarter of an hour after that, the Bavarians went ahead when Robben scored a rare header. It was just the 11th time out of the 150 club goals that the Dutchman has scored with his head.

In stoppage time, Lewandowski scored his second of the night (and ninth of the season) on a stunning free kick. It capped off a brilliant performance, and the goal puts Bayern ahead of RB Leipzig on goal difference, although Leipzig have a game in hand which they will play tomorrow against Schalke. Should the Red Bulls fail to win, Munich will stay in first.

Lineups:

FC Bayern Munich (4-4-2):

Neuer; Kimmich, Martínez, Hummels, Alaba; Robben, Lahm (Vidal 76′), Thiago, Ribéry (Costa 66′); Müller (Sanches 87′), Lewandowski.

1. FSV Mainz 05 (5-3-2): Lössl; Donati, Balogun, Bell, Hack (Öztunali 62′), Brosinski; Frei (Latza 72′), Ramalho (De Blasis 82′), Malli; Onisiwo, Cordoba.

Goals:

FC Bayern: Lewandowski (7′, 90+1′), Robben (21′).

Mainz 05: Cordoba (4′).

What we learned:

A big talking point coming into the match was that Carlo Ancelotti switched from his trusted 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2. This shape is probably best for Munich considering their personnel. Bayern were able to field the potent “Robbery” combo of Robben on the right and Franck Ribéry on the left.

Arguably more important is for both Lewandowski and Thomas Müller (who is still searching for his first Bundesliga goal this season) to be on the pitch at the same time, playing centrally. Bayern really need Müller to get out of his funk going forward. That said, Müller had a very good game and can be effective while not scoring. But his goals could be useful in European competition, or big Bundesliga matches.

In addition, Jérôme Boateng was dropped in favour of Javi Martínez, a decision that nearly cost Bayern this evening. In addition to being responsible for his team conceding the opening goal, he was booked on 45 minutes for a deliberate handball just outside of the penalty area. Bayer Leverkusen fans are wondering where that call was last weekend, when Kevin Volland’s header struck the arm of Martínez in the box very late in the day.

Mainz are struggling, but they’ve been running into good teams. Last week was a defeat at the hands of Hertha Berlin, and tonight’s loss saw Martin Schmidt’s side lose two straight Bundesliga games for the first time all season. Next up is Borussia Mönchengladbach, who haven’t exactly been in the best of form as of late.

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