One expected a comedown after the midweek Champions’ League quarter-final heroics against FC Porto, and this was clear as FC Bayern took on strugglers Hertha BSC at a packed Allianz Arena. The tight 1-0 win was enough to send Bayern fifteen points clear of second-placed VfL Wolfsburg with four matches remaining, and the Wolves’ defeat by the same score in Mönchengladbach was enough to ensure a record-extending twenty-fourth Bundesliga crown (and twenty-fifth German championship in all) for Die Roten.
With the outcome of the title unknown until the following evening there was a slightly strange atmosphere in the ground, and with the upcoming Cup semi-final with Borussia Dortmund looming large nobody was expecting a sparkling performance – but in the end a subdued but efficient Bayern would just about do enough against a solid Berlin side desperate for points.
Sebastian Rode and Mitchell Weiser returned to the starting lineup along with Gianluca Gaudino with Thiago, Xabi Alonso and Juan Bernat all on the bench, and with Rafinha unavailable Philipp Lahm took up residence on the the left side of a three-man defence. There was some good news on the injury front, with Javi Martínez taking up a place on the bench after his long layoff.
The visitors started brightly as Bayern adopted a more relaxed approach, and had the best of the opportunities early on. There was a scare for the much-criticised Danté as he sent a Marvin Plattenhardt cross narrowly wide of his own goal, and although Bayern settled down a little better there were very few chances against their well-drilled opponents. Gaudino and Thomas Müller warmed the gloves of ‘keeper Sascha Burchert, but that was about for a fairly forgettable first half.
The second half saw the exchange of one teenager for another as summer signing Sinan Kurt replaced Gaudino, but again it was the men from the capital who created the better chances early on. Manuel Neuer made easy work of an effort from Swiss striker Valentin Stocker, but minutes later produced a world class save to deny Nico Schulz. After getting away from the static Danté in the middle of the pitch Schulz was in on goal with just the Bayern ‘keeper to beat, but his on-target effort was brilliantly parried by the Bayern number one.
Thiago and the returning Claudio Pizarro came on for Müller and Mario Götze as Guardiola looked to speed things up a little, but Hertha remained resolute. Bastian Schweinsteiger was denied by the crossbar as the home crowd continued to be frustrated, but as the game entered the final ten minutes and Pál Dárdai’s side looked to lock things down Bayern produced their final burst. On eighty minutes the impressive Weiser made a speedy run down the right, cutting the ball back neatly for Schweinsteiger to blast it into the top-right hand corner.
Endlich! Bastian Schweinsteiger blasts Bayern in front with ten minutes remaining
It had been a tedious encounter, but Schweinsteiger’s spectacular effort was more than worth the wait. With three points on the bag it was just a matter of waiting on Wolfsburg to slip up, and when Max Kruse struck for Mönchengladbach a minute from time all of Munich could celebrate yet another league title – their third-quickest after 2013/14 and 2012/13. There was no time for parties however; the Meisterschale might have been retained for a third year, but bigger tests remain – with a wounded Dortmund up next.
Man of the Match
A forgettable match, and one where Bayern have to work themselves too hard. Mitchell Weiser again made the most of his opportunity to make the starting lineup, but for his solidity between the sticks Manuel Neuer takes the award this week.
Bundesliga Week 30
Allianz Arena, München, 25.04.2015
FC Bayern 1:0 (0:0) FC Hertha BSC
Schweinsteiger 80. / –
FC Bayern: Neuer – Lahm (c), Boateng, Danté – Schweinsteiger – Weiser, Rode, Gaudino (46. Kurt 46) – Müller (67. Thiago), Götze (75. Pizarro) – Lewandowski
Berlin: Burchert – Pekarik, S. Langkamp, Brooks, Plattenhardt – Skjelbred, Lustenberger (c) – Haraguchi, Stocker (73. Hegeler), Schulz (83. Wagner) – Kalou (66. Ndjeng)
Yellow Cards: – / Kalou