Bayern Munich put RB Leipzig’s dream of topping the Bundesliga after the first half of the season to bed on Wednesday night at the Allianz Arena with a 3-0 victory. The champions dispatched the challengers with ease, showing their class even before the visitors went down to ten men.
Leipzig were more energised at the start of the match, leading to a glorious chance in the fourth minute when Timo Werner broke through the backline down the right wing and zipped in a ground cross. Yussuf Poulsen was unable to reach the ball, and Bayern were let off the hook.
After the first ten minutes it was all Bayern, as the home side started coming in to their own and dominating every phase of the match. Thiago Alcântara opened the scoring on 17 minutes. Philipp Lahm and Arjen Robben combined brilliantly down the right, and the Dutchman supplied Robert Lewandowski with the ball. Bayern’s frontman hit the post, but the ball ricocheted right to Thiago in the centre of the penalty area.
Alcântara provided an assist just eight minutes later as Xabi Alonso made it 2-0. It was the earliest in a match that Leipzig had been losing by such a scoreline in more than three years.
RB Leipzig haven’t been down 2-0 this early in a match since 26 October 2013 against Chemnitzer FC in the 3. Liga. Rare.
— Jack Grimse (@JackGrimse) December 21, 2016
It was over for Leipzig when Emil Forsberg recklessly went in from behind with his studs up on Lahm just half an hour in. The Swede lost his head after the second goal, and the rash decision effectively ended the game for Leipzig, although it was probably already settled at 2-0. If Forsberg is suspended a further three matches for violent conduct, he’ll miss the clash against Dortmund.
Just when it looked as if it couldn’t get any worse for the visitors, it did. The halftime whistle came too late from Ralf Hasenhüttl’s perspective, as RBL goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi couldn’t get out of the way of Douglas Costa, giving away a penalty that Lewandowski would coolly convert to make it 3-0.
Naby Keïta, who picked up an injury in the previous match, was subbed off at halftime with the game beyond doubt. Club captain Dominik Kaiser entered the game, and helped RBL retain their more compact 4-4-1 makeshift shape in the second half.
After the break, the game died down as expected. Bayern were more than happy to consolidate at 3-0 up. The Bavarains were fully in control, but credit Leipzig for not completely crumbling in the second half while playing a man down.
With the first half of the season wrapped up, Bayern top the table with 39 points to Leipzig’s 36. It’s easy to dismiss Die Rote Bullen after this performance, but it’s important to remember that the three-point margin is the smallest cushion Bayern have had after the Hinrunde since 2011 when both Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen trailed by three.
FC Bayern Munich (4-2-3-1):
Neuer; Lahm, Boateng, Hummels, Alaba (Bernat 67′); Vidal (Kimmich 75′), Alonso; Robben (Ribéry 46′), Thiago, Costa; Lewandowski.
RB Leipzig (4-2-2-2):
Gulácsi; Bernardo, Ilsanker, Orban, Halstenberg; Keïta (Kaiser 46′), Demme; Sabitzer (Burke 83′), Forsberg; Poulsen, Werner (Selke 59′).
FC Bayern: Thiago (17′), Alonso (25′), Lewandowski (p, 45′).
RB Leipzig: None.
FC Bayern: None.
RB Leipzig: Forsberg (30′).