Round of 16 beckons as Bayern down Hannover

Posted by Susie Schaaf

Bayern Munich jumped to an early lead from goals by Thomas Mueller and Claudio Pizarro, but were set on their heels a bit as Hannover 96 took control; Didier Ya Konan pulling one back. However, Bayern would find their footing again in the second half with Mueller's second on the day, and Franck Ribery sealing the coffin shut on Mirko Slomka's men.

The largely comfortable 4-1 win sees Bayern Munich into the third round of the DFB Pokal. They'll find out who's next on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola fielded a much-changed line-up to the side that ran out over the weekend in the 4-0 mauling of Schalke, mindful of the fact the team faces Wolfsburg over the weekend before a trip to England to face Manchester City in the Champions League.

Diego Contento was handed a rare start; joined by Rafinha, Daniel van Buyten and Dante in defence. Guardiola lined up three in the midfield: Philipp Lahm, Toni Kroos and Bastian Schweinsteiger; with Xherdan Shaqiri, Claudio Pizarro and man-of-the-match Mueller leading the three-pronged attack.

Schweinsteiger missed from distance before Shaqiri pantsed a shot at open goal, but despite early misses Pizarro opened Bayern's account, crossing brilliantly to Mueller on 17 minutes. Mueller bundled past Ron-Robert Zieler with his chest -- or his arm, depending on who you talk to.

Kroos put up a rocket before Pizarro doubled the lead for Munich with a powerful header from a lovely Dante whipped cross. Zieler never stood a chance against it.

After finding themselves up 2-0 in the first half, Bayern Munich would take their foot off the gas for a spell, opening space, and Hannover took advantage, dominating the home side in the last 15 minutes.

Manuel Neuer blocked a point-blank effort from Lars Stindl, caught Ya Konan's headed attempt and punched out Szabolcs Huszti's shot before Hannover pulled one back; Ya Konan beating Contento to Sebastien Pocognoli's cross. But the fault should not be solely levelled at Contento's feet, as the high line of the center backs continues to be an issue.

Huszti shot at Neuer to open the second half, while on the other end Thomas Mueller ripped over the bar from a Contento cross. Shaqiri might have been awarded a penalty before taking a long shot that Zieler could only parry out, but Bayern would revert to dominant play with their third on the day -- and the second for Mueller as he only needed to direct the ball past Zieler after a perfect Shaqiri set-piece.

Mueller almost got a hat-trick a minute later from Hannover's kick-off before Alaba came on for Bastian Schweinsteiger in the holding midfield position. He then almost got one again with a panenka shot that Zieler clumsily pushed out to Ribery, the Frenchman scoring the rebound for Bayern's fourth of the day.

Dante saw yellow for a late tackle on Huszti, and Contento limped off the field for Jan Kirchhoff, but the Rekordmeisters were trying to add a fifth -- Lahm and Shaqiri coming closest as the final whistle blew.

Pep Guardiola post-match: "I'm surprised at the way we played in the second half. It's our mentality. We just keep attacking."

Despite my misgivings at van Buyten's speed, it was nice to see Jerome Boateng with an evening off before this weekend's Wolfsburg match. And while Rafinha is getting better every single game he starts at right-back, I hope for Lahm's return to that position when Javi Martinez is healthy. The selection for Guardiola will be very interesting once Bayern has a full, healthy squad.

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