Germany: Bayern top table at winter break
FC Bayern München secured the tag of Herbstmeister (autumn champions) in Germany last night. Despite going down to ten men following Franck Ribéry’s red card on the half hour mark, FC Bayern were seldom troubled by visiting 1.FC Köln as they strolled to a 3-0 victory. The win leaves Bayern with a six point lead at the top of the Bundesliga standings with everybody else left to play the 17th round of matches this weekend before the league undertakes its customary winter break.
FC Bayern started off the season with a shocking defeat at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach, a team who scraped their way out of relegation trouble at the end of last season, but soon recovered to win their next six games in a row including a 7-0 hammering of SC Freiburg to top the table. A minor blip on matchday 8 saw a goalless draw away at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim before the Bavarians got back to winning ways with a 4-0 rout of Hertha BSC. Just when things looked good for Bayern, however, they began to suffer some inconsistency in form with wins in the Bavarian derby to 1. FC Nürnberg and an expected win over 1.FC Augsburg coupled with defeats such as the top of the table clash against defending champions Borussia Dortmund as well as succumbing to the challenge of a struggling 1.FSV Mainz 05 side on Matchday 14, a game which saw Bayern lose their leadership of the standings. But such is life in the Bundesliga that one can never write Bayern off and they came back to win their last three matches in the first half of the league season. Impressive victories at home to Werder Bremen and away in the “Derby of the South” against VfB Stuttgart were complimented by last night’s win over 1. FC Köln.
French international Franck Ribéry got himself in a spot of bother when getting involved in a petty squabble with Portuguese forward Henrique Sereno in the 33rd minute. Following a yellow card for the initial altercation Ribéry then appeared to put his hands on Sereno’s throat, a move which gained him an instant dismissal. Despite this FC Bayern came out fighting in the second half and went ahead just three minutes after the break with league top scorer Mario Gomez helping himself to his 16th goal of the season. Further goals from David Alaba and Toni Kroos helped the Rekordmeister (record champions) seal a 3-0 win and the top spot at the winter break.
Traditionally the team who leads the table at the halfway point of the season will go on to win the league trophy in Germany. This has happened 32 times in the Bundesliga’s 48 year history so far but FC Bayern do face some stiff competition this season with the likes of Dortmund, Schalke 04, Werder Bremen and surprise package Mönchengladbach all ready to pounce in the event of a rare slip from the Münchener.