Bayern Munich increase their advantage at the top of the Bundesliga table ahead of Borussia Dortmund’s clash against Borussia Mönchengladbach with a 6-0 win over Schalke. The game was never in doubt from a Bayern perspective, it was just about finding the first goal.
The pressure Bayern were applying onto Schalke meant that after 21 minutes the floodgates opened. A sweeping Bayern move was finished off by Thomas Müller, returning to the Bayern starting XI for the first time since their defeat to Mainz. Less than 10 minutes later Joshua Kimmich would fire home from the penalty spot to put the game beyond Schalke’s reach with less than 30 minutes on the clock. With the score at 2-0 going into half-time, Schalke would have been hoping for damage limitation in the second half.
Nevertheless, Serge Gnabry would score twice within 20 minutes to the frustration of Thomas Reis. Mathys Tel and Noussair Mazraoui would find time to heap the humiliation on Schalke, as Bayern breezed past the Royal Blues. A 6-0 defeat for Schalke leaves them in the relegation playoff spot for now, while Bayern will be assured of top spot ahead of matchday 33.
Bayern Munich’s fabulous five
Bayern Munich have been able to bounce back from their dismal defeat at the hands of Mainz on matchday 29, with three consecutive victories. Their performance away against the Carnival Club did little to suggest that the Rekordmeister would be able to find their form once again. Two straight wins against Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen papered over the cracks of what were ultimately, underwhelming performances.
However, this display against Schalke was one that could be assimilated with those of Bayern’s dominant past. From the very first whistle, Thomas Tuchel’s side engulfed Die Königsblauen with their pace, power and movement, leaving wide open gaps across the Schalke backline. Despite Bayern needing a handful of opportunities to strike, once the first went in, a long afternoon was in store for Thomas Reis’ side.
A combination of Bayern’s tricky wingers in Leroy Sané and Kingsley Coman complimented the intelligence of Thomas Müller and Jamal Musiala. With Serge Gnabry leading the line – even though the attack and midfield were fluid throughout – Schalke were left wondering who to mark. In the end, the answer was unclear from a Schalke perspective. Bayern had found the answer to their attacking issues with total football on display for the majority of the game. If they can perform like this for the rest of the campaign, then the Meisterschale will undoubtedly remain in Munich.
Schalke bit off more than they can chew
Back-to-back victories for Die Königsblauen had left them in a positive position prior to this clash with Bayern Munich. Having picked up a mere nine points during the Hinrunde, Schalke looked destined for the 2. Bundesliga when these two sides met prior to the World Cup. Nevertheless, Thomas Reis has managed to galvanise a side that had been written off by many and turned them into a competitive Bundesliga side.
However, Schalke were far from competitive throughout the game against Bayern. The record champions were able to prove why they are at the top of the Bundesliga table, as they dismantled a Schalke side resembling that of a second-tier side. While they fight to do whatever they can to prevent that from becoming a reality, their upcoming fixtures would not favour the side from Gelsenkirchen.
To rub salt into Schalke’s rapidly opening wounds, Marius Bülter – Schalke’s top goalscorer with 11 goals – will miss Die Königsblauen’s next fixture against Eintracht Frankfurt on matchday 33. Without Bülter, Schalke will have to find some goalscoring creation from somewhere. Their second top scorers are Simon Terodde and Dominick Drexler, with four a piece. Whether they will have the quality to overcome Die Adler is yet to be seen. However, if their performance is anything like their one against Bayern, then they may think that they left their survival push too late.
The confidence that Bayern needed
At the beginning of every season, it is not a hope for Bayern to win the Bundesliga, it is an expectation. For the majority of this campaign – and especially after the change in management at the club – the feeling of doubt that the Rekordmeister would lift the Meisterschale has slowly increased. The tension around the club and on the terraces had even began to incorporate itself onto the pitch.
For weeks, the pressure from the media, the fans and the self-association with Bayern had clearly been affecting the Bavarian side. Thomas Tuchel had even explained how his side were low on confidence and that self-assurance had to be found from within. If any performance would instil the confidence required to prevent Dortmund from lifting the Bundesliga title, it was this display from Bayern.
It was a statement of intent from Tuchel’s side, who made it abundantly clear that they were no longer FC Hollywood and instead, that they had returned. While drama is never far away from the Säbener Straße, one would believe that Bayern are now on course to lift their 11th straight league title. Tuchel will also look to keep this newfound confidence raging in the Bayern camp heading into next season. While it was just on performance, it could have made more difference than the prior 31.
GGFN | Will Shopland