Schalke Null Vier, anyone?

Posted by Susie Schaaf

Lennart Preiss/Bongarts/Getty ImagesBayern Munich boss Jupp Heynckes looked on with delight as his team thumped Schalke 4-0.

A double by David Alaba, partnered with a free kick by Bastian Schweinsteiger and a lovely exchange between disgruntled benchwarmers Arjen Robben and Mario Gomez saw Bayern Munich annihilate (I love that word!) a depleted Schalke side 4-0 at the Allianz Arena on Saturday evening.

Prior to the match, Leverkusen's draw with Moenchengladbach coupled with Dortmund's shellacking at home by Hamburg meant Bayern could go 15 points clear a top the Bundesliga table with a win against Schalke 04.

- Bayern extend Bundesliga lead
- Highlights: Bayern Munich 4-0 Schalke 04 (UK & Ireland)

Didn't Jupp Heynckes, just this week, say there was no reason to change the starting XI? A bit of misinformation as it seems considering Robben and Gomez got the start, leaving Mario Mandzukic and Thomas Mueller on the bench; the latter pair responsible (directly or indirectly) for a full 76 percent of Bayern's goal tally this season.

In the end, it wouldn't matter which Bayern Startelf was on the pitch. A furious start by both squads would settle into a full Bayern press with the first good chance coming on 11 minutes. Schalke 'keeper Timo Hildebrand expecting a cross from Franck Ribery, instead he got his gloves warmed by a shot.

The ensuing minutes saw Hildebrand punch out a Robben corner, a Ribery shot, a Ribery corner, and Robben heading just wide. The 18th minute would see the Frenchman go down in the box (perhaps a bit easy), and Austrian international David Alaba stepping up for the penalty, sending Timo the wrong way.

It took 22 minutes before Schalke had won their first corner, but that was only after a Dante clearance had glanced off of Schweinsteiger's shoulder. Munich just kept coming. Schweinsteiger and Gomez would head just wide before a foul on Robben saw a free kick just outside the box. Schweinsteiger stepped up to take it on 31 minutes, froze Hildebrand and curled it home over the wall.

Six minutes later Michel Bastos struck possibly the worst free kick I've ever seen. I mean, really! My golf slices are better than that! Three more corners would round out the first half for Bayern as Schalke were inexorably being brought to their heels.

And just six minutes after the restart, Alaba would finish his brace after a Gomez back pass. Then four minutes later Robben broke free and tried to pip Hildebrand with a one-on-one situation that saw the Dutchman's lob just over the bar.

Die Knappen's Marco Hoeger saw yellow in the 56th minute, as the play was all going Bayern's way. Alaba and Ribery would cross in before Gomez triumphantly scored the fourth for Bayern, on 63 minutes, with a lovely pass from Robben.

Hoeger came off for Raffael Araujo and Michel Bastos was replaced by Jefferson Farfan (who eventually made a flight?). Munich meanwhile made a triple substitution: Luis Gustavo for Schweinsteiger, Rafinha for Philipp Lahm and Diego Contento for Ribery; the last sub moving Alaba up into Ribery's role.

But with Lahm and Schweinsteiger off the pitch, who was Bayern's captain? It took minutes to find out, but a clear view of Manuel Neuer with the armband finally revealed whom. It was a cheeky move by Bayern, making Neuer captain against his former club where he was captain in a match where he was mostly picking grass.

Rafinha opened with some nice touches while Schalke would take off Teemu Pukki for Edu. A free kick and a corner by Robben rounded out the minutes as Bayern emerged with 54 points after 21 matches: The best in Bundesliga history. In fact, their 11-0 opening start to this Rueckrunde has only been eclipsed by the '99 team (12-0).

Could you imagine if this match had run concurrent with the Leverkusen and Dortmund ones? How buzzing the atmosphere in the Allianz would have been with every "ding!" heard in the stadium? Ah! But, I'll take this one anyway, with all of Germany watching. While I would've prefered FCB to face a full-strength Schalke side, I am more than happy with the position at the top.

It's lovely looking down at Schalke NullVier and the rest.

Odds and ends:

Good to see Jerome Boateng back in the Startelf. His passes forward don't always work out, but they're always a threat.

Anyone who blames Robben for not scoring the fourth goal is crazy. Bayern were three goals up. You're supposed to try to pip the keeper.

Dante. That is all.

Speaking of, if anyone can find me a gif of the Basti/Dante dance, I will love you forever.

This match reiterates that every single person on this squad is needed and valued. Hopefully this is a wake up for Heynckes. You need more than just 11 to win everything! (As if 2010 and 2012 wasn't enough evidence.)

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