Bayern Munich 4-1 Koln: League leaders stroll to victory

The Bundesliga leaders picked up a comfortable win, with Bastian Schweinsteiger, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and Robert Lewandowski all on target

Bayern Munich extended their lead at the top of the Bundesliga to 11 points with a comfortable 4-1 victory over Cologne at the Allianz Arena.

Pep Guardiola’s side had thumped Hamburg 8-0 and thrashed Paderborn 6-0 in their last two league outings, and it looked as though Cologne were on course for a similarly heavy defeat on Friday when Bayern went two up inside 10 minutes.

Bastian Schweinsteiger headed in from a corner in the third minute before Franck Ribery struck a fine individual effort, and Cologne fans could have been forgiven for fearing the worst.

However, the side with the second best away record in the league – behind only Bayern – rallied and halved the deficit through Anthony Ujah’s header in first-half stoppage time.

Ujah had a golden chance to equalise shortly before the hour, but Manuel Neuer produced a fine save to preserve Bayern’s lead, and the hosts pulled two goals clear again with Arjen Robben’s header midway through the second period.

As Cologne pressed to get back into the game, they left themselves open at the back and Robert Lewandowski added a fourth with 15 minutes remaining to cap yet another dominant performance from the German champions.

Bayern applied early pressure and were in front inside three minutes as Schweinsteiger – back in the side as one of two changes – rose unchallenged to power in Robben’s left-wing corner.

And Bayern did not have to wait long to make it two, as Ribery cut in from the left hand side and arrowed a low shot into the bottom left-hand corner from the edge of the box.

Another rout appeared to be on the cards but, on the stroke of half-time, Cologne pulled one back as Ujah leapt to head home Matthias Lehmann’s right-wing cross.

The home side began the second half as they had the first, and Thomas Muller was wasteful in heading Rafinha’s cross off target in the 55th minute.

Against the run of play, Cologne almost found an equaliser three minutes later when Slawomir Reszko broke free down the left and squared for Ujah, whose cushioned effort was superbly kept out by Neuer.

The Bayern goalkeeper had to be alert again from the resulting corner, diving to his right to parry substitute Marcel Risse’s well-struck shot.

Bayern seemed stunned into action by those near misses, and restored their two-goal advantage in the 67th minute as Robben headed Ribery’s chipped ball back across goal and just inside the far post.

The hosts then netted a fourth on the break as Robben crossed for Lewandowski, who was able to chest the ball in from practically on the line.

Robben and Mario Gotze both went close to making the final margin of victory more convincing, but in the end it mattered little as Bayern were able to celebrate the 115th anniversary of their formation in style.

… 

My son could play for Germany one day – Ribery

The former France international, whose boy Saif was born in the country, says he is considering taking up citizenship

Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery has signalled his intent to remain in Munich beyond the end of his career and says his son could one day represent Germany should he become a professional footballer.

The former France international has been at the Allianz Arena since 2007, winning four league titles, four DFB-Pokals and a Champions League among many more trophies in that time.

And, having settled in the country, Ribery suggests his German-born son Saif could one day represent the reigning World Cup winners, while he himself is considering appyling for citizenship.

Asked by Bild whether he would consider it, Ribery said: “Why not? I can imagine staying in Munich after the end of my career.

“I have bought a very nice house, I feel good here and I like the mentality.

“My children are doing well at school, they have German friends.

“My son Saif was born here, he may even one day play for Germany.

“My eldest daughter Hiziya always makes fun of my German, and I laugh with her. I did not learn the language in school, but in my daily life, from other people.”

Guardiola: Some former players speak badly of me

The 44-year-old accepts his methods will have frustrated players in the past and has warned his current side not to expect another rout against Koln

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola concedes he does not have the best reputation among some of his former players.

The former Barcelona boss had a rocky relationship with striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Camp Nou, with agent Mino Raiola even claiming the Swede wanted to join Real Madrid in order to spite his old boss.

Mario Mandzukic also hit out at Guardiola for a lack of respect after he was sold to Atletico Madrid during the summer.

While Guardiola insists he has always done his utmost to keep his squad happy, he accepts there are some who grew frustrated with his methods under his management.

“For a coach it is easier with players who play all the time,” he told a press conference. “But that’s not possible with us. The players make the difference themselves and when they’re feeling better, they’re playing better. Many of those I worked with talk badly about me now. I think I always did my best.”

The reigning Bundesliga champions hammered Hamburg 8-0 two weeks ago, before thumping Paderborn 6-0 last Saturday and face relegation-threatened Cologne this weekend.

Guardiola, however, is adamant that another rout should not be expected.

“I have huge respect for every opponent,” he said. “We have to be at our level each game. It is not important who the opponent is and which competition it is.

“Cologne are the second best away team after us. We have to be careful, but we have improved and our defence does not allow many chances.

“Every game is a new game. When you win 6-0, it’s hard to learn. From the Wolfsburg game [a 4-1 defeat] I have learned a lot.”

Guardiola also confirmed that defender Medhi Benatia would likely miss the game with a calf problem.

Bayern Munich-Cologne Preview: Lewandowski demands more goals

The club have scored 14 times in their last two league games and the striker is urging more of the same

Bayern Munich will go 11 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga if they win at Cologne on Friday, but Robert Lewandowski believes it is still all to play for in the title race.

Paderborn coach Andre Breitenreiter lauded the German champions as “the best team in the world” after his side were on the receiving end of a 6-0 home defeat to Pep Guardiola’s men last weekend.

Ruthless Bayern – who sit eight points clear of second-placed Wolfsburg – had consigned Hamburg to a humiliating 8-0 thrashing in their previous league match and should have too much firepower for a Cologne side who are without a win in four matches and in danger of being relegated.

Striker Lewandowski responded to being dropped to the bench in the Champions League stalemate at Shakhtar Donetsk by netting twice at Paderborn and the Poland striker has stressed the importance of free-scoring Bayern maintaining their ominous form. 

He told the club’s official website: “It’s our mentality. We always want lots of goals, regardless of the score at the time. We always want more. And an eight-point lead over Wolfsburg isn’t that much.

“Wolfsburg are playing very well, so we have to be on our guard until the end of the season. Regardless of our lead in the table, we always have to concentrate.”

Wolfsburg face a difficult trip to Werder Bremen for a clash between two in-form sides on Sunday, so Bayern could be in an even stronger position at the summit after this weekend.

Cologne drew 1-1 at home to Hannover last weekend and it would be a major surprise if they beat a Bayern side who have not suffered defeat at the Allianz Arena since April 2014.

Peter Stoger’s side lost 2-0 at home to the Bavarian giants back in September, but, despite residing down in 13th in the table, only Bayern have claimed more wins on the road than their tally of five.

Midfielder Yannick Gerhardt is the only player unavailable to Stoger, as he is still suffering from an infection.

Guardiola will check on the fitness of defender Mehdi Benatia (thigh), but Philipp Lahm (ankle) is still ruled out along with knee injury victims Thiago Alcantara and Javi Martinez.

But there was positive news of midfielder Thiago this week, who trained with the ball on Tuesday for the first time since October as Lahm also stepped up his recovery.

Neuer is a revolutionary goalkeeper, says Thierry Henry

The France legend believes the Bayern No.1 could be responsible for a new wave of shot-stoppers who are more active defensively

Thierry Henry has described Fifa Ballon d’Or nominee Manuel Neuer as a revolutionary for his style of play as a sweeper-keeper.

Neuer starred for Bayern Munich as they romped to Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal success last season and was one of the best players at the World Cup last summer as Germany enjoyed success in Brazil.

The shot-stopper’s efforts were so impressive that he finished third in Ballon d’Or voting behind Cristiano Ronaldo, who triumphed for the third time, and four-time winner Lionel Messi.

Former Arsenal and Barcelona striker Henry, who was a World Cup winner himself in 1998, believes Neuer will inspire a fresh generation of No.1s to be more involved in the defensive side of football, rather than staying static between the sticks.

“I think we definitely saw something new. Neuer changed what we perceive as the job of a goalkeeper,” he told Fifa.com.

“The role had already evolved when keepers were prohibited from picking up back-passes, but the person who has really revolutionised the position is Neuer.

“We’ve seen formations with a lot of people high up the pitch, but we’d never seen a goalkeeper play so far from his goal. Johan Cruyff’s Ajax side also had keepers who passed the ball a lot but never from level with the defenders.

“With Neuer, it’s like you always have an extra man. That change also owes much to the freedom he’s been given by his coach, but Neuer can do it as he’s a truly great goalkeeper.

“He always stays composed when making his passes – he’s like a genuine libero. That role really emerged in the 80s and 90s but now Neuer is the new libero. That’s what amazed everyone at that World Cup, and now all keepers will start to play like him.”