Bayern deny Freiburg a point on the return

Posted by Susie Schaaf

Lennart Preiss/Bongarts/Getty ImagesXherdan Shaqiri had a brace before leaving Bayern's 4-0 win over Freiburg with a hamstring injury.

Bayern Munich were 4-0 winners over SC Freiburg on Saturday using what was an unfamiliar line-up from manager Pep Guardiola ahead of Wednesday's Champions League Arsenal tie at the Emirates in north London. Bayern opened their scoring with a Dante header, an improving Xherdan Shaqiri scored a brace before halftime, before Claudio Pizarro sealed the win in the second half.

- Report: Bayern 4-0 Freiburg

The ever-present Manuel Neuer -- with his 13th Bundesliga clean sheet this season -- stood tall in goal, with Rafinha, Javi Martinez (in for Jerome Boateng), Dante and Diego Contento (in for David Alaba) ahead of him. Captain Philipp Lahm and an on-song Toni Kroos controlled the double pivot, with an attacking quartet of Arjen Robben, Thomas Mueller, Shaqiri and striker Pizarro.

Although Bayern Munich controlled two-thirds of the possession over the opening fifteen minutes of the match, Christian Streich's men were up for the challenge as Jonathan Schmid and Matthias Ginter had early chances for Freiburg while only Shaqiri got close for Bayern with a blocked shot. Ginter would be indirectly at fault for the opener, however, when he saw yellow for a foul on Robben. The Dutch international's free-kick found Contento, and the seldom-used left-back crossed in for Dante's opening header.

Selecao selection Rafinha then blasted over, right as I had been moaning about Shaqiri's recent form. But, the Swiss midfielder later surprised as Pizarro's back-heel in traffic found the on-rushing Shaqiri who went short-post to beat Freiburg goalkeeper Olive Baumann.

Minutes later, Robben did some very pretty work, fantastically weaving through four Freiburg defenders before shooting over the bar from just five meters out. But then Shaqiri would get his second and the third for Munich as he and Kroos broke and a Kroos cut-back to Shaqiri allowed The Swiss international to pick up his brace for the day. Die Breisgauer would be unfortunate not to have pulled one back before the half closed out, as Admir Mehmedi was incorrectly called offside after springing Bayern's trap.

The second half opened with a silly Martinez tackle for yellow -- the Spaniard playing unconventionally at centre-back for Bayern, before Robben, Mueller -- with an attempted panenka over Baumann -- and Contento all got shots off as die Roten took further control of the match. But the moment that all 71,000 spectators in the Allianz were waiting for was Bastian Schweinsteiger's inclusion in the match. Even while warming up on the sidelines, the Fussballgott received a handshake from opposing trainer Streich.

Mario Goetze replaced Philipp Lahm minutes later before Kroos and Mehmedi traded fizzers at each goal. Pizarro, who'd been excellent in delivery during the match, got close to his third Bundesliga goal this season with a kick that Baumann could only palm out for a corner, before Robben made way for Daniel van Buyten -- Guardiola electing to give players as much rest as possible while maintaining their 3-0 lead.

The perpetually confused-looking Martinez came agonizingly close, shooting just wide of Baumann after looking around for support upon breaking free. But Pizarro would not be denied to close out the match, beating two defenders and shooting across Baumann for Bayern's fourth on the day.

There is no more "first-team" at Bayern Munich. Even with the talent on the bench, Guardiola still got to start ten internationals. And what is telling to me is the competition in the squad, and the desire to impress Bayern's Catalan trainer. The Pokal thumping of HSV and this match demonstrated that.

It's lovely to see some key players get some rest -- including Mario Mandzukic, who was out on accumulated yellows for this one -- and better to see Martinez, Schweinsteiger and van Buyten getting minutes and increasingly match-fit before Wednesday's opening tie against AFC.

Sadly, Shaqiri, with hamstring injury in this one, is now out for two weeks; joining Franck Ribery and Holger Badstuber on the injury list.

Bayern Munich now go to 46 consecutive Bundesliga matches unbeaten, while opening up a gaping 16-point lead atop the table following Leverkusen's loss to Schalke on Saturday.

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