Unconvincing Bayern coast past Bochum to reach DFB-Pokal semis
Arjen Robben was at the heart of Bayern Munich’s last win in Bochum, five years ago. However, on this visit, with a spot in the semifinals of the German Cup up-for-grabs, the Dutchman was at the center of proceedings — but for the wrong reasons. Robben’s blatant dive before halftime led to Bochum seeing Jan Simunek sent-off. Bayern, less than convincing on the night, battled to win 3-0 with Robert Lewandowski bagging a double.
Lewandowski’s opener was a sucker punch, while Thiago Alcantara, one of two changes from a 0-0 draw at Leverkusen, scored at the perfect time on the hour mark to send Bayern into the final-four — the round that was the end of last season’s German Cup campaign at the hands of Borussia Dortmund. Lewandowski added a second of his own — his third of the competition so far — to wrap up the win in stoppage time.
Bochum was an established Bundesliga outfit until 1993 and were last relegated from the top-flight in 2009. The Ruhr side were denied an immediate return to the Bundesliga, losing out in the playoffs to a Marco Reus-inspired Borussia Mönchengladbach. Despite their Bundesliga credentials off-the-field, Bochum has struggled to impose itself on the 2.Bundesliga and have strong competition for a promotion place this year.
A win on Saturday against promotion-chasers Freiburg, however, meant Bochum’s boisterous home support arrived full of ambition for the visit of German champions Bayern. Gertjan Verbeek’s side had only returned to league action at the weekend after a lengthy winter shutdown, but the Dutch coach instructed his side to take the game to Josep Guardiola’s Bayern from the first whistle.
Former Arsenal kid Thomas Eisfeld turned on the style for Bochum on a chilly evening, crucially orchestrating the early assaults on Bayern’s shaky defense. Eisfeld’s vision to pick out Simon Terodde at the far-post was sublime, but Bochum’s top scorer was slightly off-balance as he drilled his shot wide of the target. Bayern was on the back-foot and Holger Badstuber made a brilliant last-ditch intervention to prevent Terodde from almost certainly sticking the ball in the net.
Guardiola’s fluid three-man defense comprised of Badstuber, Joshua Kimmich and Xabi Alonso, while David Alaba and Philipp Lahm were given hybrid roles between defense and midfield. Manchester City’s next coach was gesticulating with some animation during the first 20 minutes; his anger aimed particularly at Thiago and Alaba — both of whom had a disappointing start.
On 24 minutes, Terodde, with 10 goals to his name this season, squandered another great chance from 10 meters — the cushioned chest control in the lead-up from Eisfeld was exquisite. Verbeek was forced to shuffle his compact backline four minutes later when Timo Perthel was injured in a collision with Robben.
Guardiola tweaked his shape slightly during the stoppage in play, with Thiago moving into a central position with the aim of working through Bochum’s sharp pressing. Bochum defended stoically and Bayern was forced to play around the penalty box rather than into dangerous forward positions. Robben’s 30-yard strike from 33 minutes was born out of frustration at a lack of success on the wing.
The breakthrough for Bayern arrived five minutes later when Muller flicked the ball cleverly into the path of Lewandowski, the Polish striker firing past Riemann from a tight angle. Bochum was left with a mountain to climb on 42 minutes when Bayern was awarded a soft penalty kick.
Robben will be rather embarrassed by his role in the decision, throwing himself dramatically to the deck under minimal pressure from substitute Jan Simunek. Referee Bastian Denkert had little chance therefore, but to send Simunek off for denying a goal-scoring opportunity. However, Bochum goalie Manuel Riemann earned his side a lifeline, superbly saving Muller’s’s spot-kick, the rebound striking the top of the crossbar.
Although Eisfeld came close to equalizing with a header, the 23-year-old was replaced at the interal by defender Malcolm Cacutalua. Without the young attacking-midfielder, who plays predominantly in the No. 10 role off the main striker, the home side lacked the technique to keep the ball in Bayern’s half for any concerted period of time.
The match was over as a contest around a quarter of an hour into the second half. Robben, jeered by the home fans throughout, opened the room for Muller in the channel and the German teed up Thiago whose scrappy finish bobbled past Riemann.
Until then, Bayern had improved slightly from the first-half showing with Douglas Costa confidently beating his opponent with a great array of skills and speed. The Brazilian missed an open goal on 67 minutes, though, after good work from Muller on the right once again. But the second goal was enough to kill-off the threat from Bochum who, on another night, could have caused an upset.
Bayern Munich, a record 17-time winner of the German Cup, added some shine through Lewandowski in additional time and could meet Borussia Dortmund in the final after being paired with Werder Bremen in the semifinals. Dortmund, has to go on the road to try and book its place in the final for a third season in succession against Hertha Berlin.
The semifinal ties will be played on April 19 and 20.
Information from Goal.com was used in this report.