Bayern Munich defeated Schalke 2-1 at the Allianz Arena to re-establish their 18 point lead in the Bundesliga. Robert Lewandowski put the Bavarians into an early lead before Franco Di Santo’s 29th minute equaliser, Thomas Müller scoring the winning goal from a tight angle before half-time.
Let’s take a look at the winners and losers as Bayern edge closer to their sixth consecutive Bundesliga title.
Bayern Munich – The league leaders weren’t at their best, but they managed to do enough to overcome a well organised and determined Schalke. Starting with a very attack minded line-up, Bayern looked vulnerable at times but took their chances and capitalised on a poor performance from Schalke keeper Ralf Fährmann.
It can’t be champagne football every match, but the sign of a championship team is being able to grind out wins when playing below capacity. Bayern did just that, securing their ninth consecutive Bundesliga victory to continue their domestic dominance, with no team able to get anywhere near the Bavarian giants.
Robert Lewandowski – The Polish striker opened the scoring which continued his impressive run at home this season, where he has scored in all 11 of Bayern’s Bundesliga games. He equalled a 45-year record set by current manager Jupp Heynckes, who achieved the feat with Borussia Monchengladbach in the 1972-73 campaign.
Domenico Tedesco – The 32-year-old has endured a tough start to 2018 with Schalke, but Tedesco should be applauded for selecting an attacking team and taking it to the home side. Attackers Franco Di Santo, Guido Burgstaller and Breel Embolo all started for the first time this season in an attempt to pressure the Bayern defence and limit their time on the ball.
It was a risky manoeuvre which required the supporting cast to synchronise their movements, wing-backs Daniel Caligiuri and Allessandro Schöpf joining the high press which had the potential to leave the defence exposed. Schalke largely managed to pull it off however, and despite the defeat Tedesco gained valuable information that will assist in the quest for European competition next season.
Breel Embolo – Embolo missed 10 months of action soon after his €22.5m move from Basel in July 2016, and this season he has had to be patient with limited opportunities behind Di Santo and Burgstaller. Getting a start in Munich, Embolo had an early shot saved and was heavily involved before providing the cross that led to Di Santo’s equaliser.
The 20-year-old Swiss attacker worked tirelessly throughout the match by running the channels, dropping deep and contributing to Schalke’s high press. This was Embolo’s first 90 minute game this season and by far his best performance, positive signs moving forward for both player and club.
Franck Ribéry – The 34-year-old started 2018 in strong form but struggled in this match. Ribéry appeared slightly behind the game physically and mentally with poor first touches and a lack of speed allowing Schalke’s defence time to close him down. The winger often got into dangerous positions but attempted difficult passes when a shot was a better option.
Bayern’s attacking formation and starting XI asked much from Ribéry on the defensive end which could have contributed to his lacklustre display. With the Frenchman turning 35 in April, one can’t help wonder if performances like this is clear proof of his eventual decline.
Ralf Fährmann – Schalke’s keeper had a game to forget as he contributed to both Bayern goals. The first was slightly unlucky, with his save from a fierce Thomas Müller shot falling directly to Lewandowski, but Fährmann left a glaring gap at his near post for Müller’s winning goal.
Fährmann is a solid keeper and as Schalke’s captain is an important member of the club, but he has slightly underwhelmed this season and was poor in Munich.
Max Meyer – Meyer has enjoyed a rebirth in the defensive midfield position this season but like his captain had a game to forget. After picking up an early yellow card, Meyer just couldn’t impact the game despite finding himself in advanced positions on numerous occasions and was substituted in the 59th minute.
The 22-year-old was visibly angry on the bench, but expect Meyer to come back strong and continue to be one of Schalke’s most important players during the final stretch of the season.