It wasn’t the goal fest many expected, but on a hot and energy-sapping afternoon in Karlsruhe FC Bayern München booked their place in the second round of the DFB-Pokal with a straightforward and somewhat uninspiring 3-1 against fifth-tier outfit FC Nöttingen 1957.
Bayern coach Pep Guardiola started out with an attack-minded 3-4-3 formation, with Jérôme Boateng taking the central defensive role with Rafinha to his right and David Alaba to his left while the four-man midfield unit saw new signings Arturo Vidal and Joshua Kimmich start alongside Philipp Lahm and Juan Bernat. Up front, Mario Götze and new boy Douglas Costa lined up alongside Robert Lewandowski. Another of Bayern’s summer signings started in goal, with former VfB Stuttgart custodian Sven Ulreich deputising for the rested Manuel Neuer.
The reigning Bundesliga champions would get off to the perfect start following the award of a penalty for handball with less than five minutes on the clock, allowing Vidal to get himself off the mark as he sent a perfectly-executed spot-kick past Nöttingen ‘keeper Robin Kraski. However just moments later the Chilean hard man once again provided his detractors with more ammunition with a crunching and frankly brainless challenge that earned him a yellow card.
On what was a baking hot afternoon in Karlsruhe’s Wildparkstadion, the part-timers refused to buckle, providing plenty of spirited moments against their more illustrious opponents. Götze should perhaps have doubled Bayern’s lead as he sent a skidding shot narrowly wide of Kraski’s far post, but the large army of noisy Bayern fans were suddenly silenced just after the fifteen-minute mark when ex-KSC stalwart Michael Wittwer’s side levelled the scores.
The goal would come out of nothing. A move down the right saw Austrian left-back Alaba get in a tangle, allowing the nippy Michael Schürg to get his cross in. Nicklas Hecht-Zirpel’s first attempt on goal was loosely parried by Ulreich, who could only put the ball back into the path of the Nöttingen striker who swept it into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
It was a great moment for the home side and their supporters, but the fun wouldn’t last for long. In fact, it lasted just over eighty seconds. Bayern swept up the field, and this time Götze made no mistake as he steered his shot past Kraski’s outstretched right arm. With Guardiola’s side upping the tempo there was an inevitability about the third goal, which came on twenty-six minutes when Lewandowski swept the ball past Kraski from close range after a Boateng effort had ricocheted off a defender.
With Bayern 3-1 up with just over a quarter of the game gone one might have expected a few more goals, but there was a distinct slowing of the pace in the intense heat. There was a slight scare as Eray Gür went down in the box under pressure from Bernat, but referee Robert Kampka waved play on.
In comparison to the first half the second forty-five minutes was a comparatively dull affair, with Bayern choosing not to exert themselves. There were a clear drop in tempo from the Bavarians, which in turn allowed the men in purple with bright highlighter yellow trim to more than play their part in what was a fairly even contest.
Even the introduction of Arjen Robben failed to provide the spark for Guardiola’s side, and genuine opportunities were few and far between. Götze tested Kraski with a firm shot, and having done a familiar dance inside to the edge of the eighteen-yard box Robben could only send a weak scuff straight into the hands of the Nöttingen ‘keeper.
Bayern’s best chance move of the second half came with just under fifteen minutes left, when the speedy Costa broke free down left with Lewandowski in space to his right. The Brazilian’s low ball into the box skidded agonisingly wide of the far post, and on another day in a more important game Lewandowski might have done a little bit more to reach it. It pretty much summed up what had been a rather insipid passage of play from the Bavarians.
The last moments of drama came courtesy of the plucky home side, with Schürg almost taking advantage of a mix-up between Alaba and substitute Dante before being denied by the chest of Ulreich. The Bayern ‘keeper hadn’t had the most confident of displays, and was almost caught out again with two minutes left as he gathered the ball at the second time of asking.
The final whistle was more of a relief than anything for Guardiola’s men, who had done exactly what they needed to do. The home team meanwhile were cheered off by their supporters, happy in the knowledge that they had put up more than a decent showing. It was not exactly a struggle for Bayern, but further proof that there are no easy games these days – even against fifth-tier opposition.
FC Nöttingen 1957 1:3 (1:3) FC Bayern München
Hecht-Zirpel 16. / Vidal pen. 5., Götze 17., Lewandowski 26.
Nöttingen: Kraski – Schmidt, Fuchs, Brenner (c), Walter – Bilger, Zachmann (82. Neziraj), Schneckenberger, Gür (77. Schenker) – Hecht-Zirpel (70. Bitzer) – Schürg
Bayern: Ulreich – Alaba, Boateng, Rafinha – Bernat, Vidal (46. Højbjerg), Kimmich (74. Dante), Lahm (c) (55. Robben) – Götze, Lewandowski, Götze
Yellow Cards: Zachmann / Vidal, Boateng, Bernat