Bayern could count themselves slightly unlucky not to come away with all three points on Saturday after a couple of controversial refereeing decisions went against them in a 1-1 draw away to Leverkusen.
The 30,210 capacity crowd at the BayArena saw the champions denied what looked like a perfectly good early opener for offside, but in-form Mario Gomez handed his side an overdue lead on 34 minutes. The home side equalised with a disputed Arturo Vidal penalty on the stroke of half-time, and the sides cancelled each other out for long spells in the second half with nothing more than half-chances at both ends.
The result sees the champions slip to eighth on 20 points from thirteen matches, now five off Bayer and seven behind Mainz, and fully 14 adrift of leaders Dortmund. The men from Munich are next in action on Tuesday evening away to Roma in the Champions League, before returning to league action at the Allianz Arena on Saturday 27 November against Eintracht Frankfurt.
Although Mark van Bommel, Holger Badstuber and Martin Demichelis failed fitness tests prior to kick-off, Louis van Gaal still had more team selection options compared to recent weeks after the return of several players from injury. Bayern duly showed two changes to the side which comfortably beat Nürnberg last time out.
Breno made his first start of the season in place of Demichelis, lining up in the back four alongside captain Philipp Lahm, Daniel van Buyten and Danijel Pranjic, with Anatoliy Tymoshchuk alongside Andi Ottl in the holding positions.
Thomas Müller returned to the starting line-up in place of Hamit Altintop, with Bastian Schweinsteiger in attacking midfield, Toni Kroos out wide, and Mario Gomez up front. Franck Ribery, Diego Contento and David Alalba all took their seats on the subs’ bench.
Once referee Florian Meyer whistled play underway on a chilly evening in the Rhineland, Bayern were robbed of the perfect start when Schweinsteiger nodded in a pinpoint Pranjic cross on two minutes only to be called offside, although the FCB man looked to be level with the last defender at most.
Manuel Friedrich cleared over his own crossbar with Gomez poised to net, but there was danger at the other end too through Eren Derdiyok, Sidney Sam and Renato Augusto, Jörg Butt coping comfortably enough with efforts from all three Bayer men.
The lively opening phase continued with Schweinsteiger firing just wide of the far stick, Sam curling a shot onto the top of Butt’s crossbar, and Gomez seeing his near-post effort deflected wide. Butt was alert to the danger when Vidal had a dig from fully 45 yards after Breno lost possession in the centre-circle, and the keeper made a decent one-handed save to keep out Vidal’s next attempt as Leverkusen poured forward on the break.
But it was Munich who took the lead on 34 minutes, Gomez applying the finish at the far post from Schweinsteiger’s lob, after the midfielder had been cleverly released in the box by Müller. The double winners comfortably contained the home side’s attempts at an early reply, until the incident in first-half stoppage time when Sam collapsed to the turf after a mild Pranjic tackle, referee Meyer pointed to the spot, and Vidal stroked home to level.
Simon Rolfes and Kroos exchanged chances immediately after the restart, but the pace dropped for a spell as the sides consciously avoided taking risks. Butt had to punch clear under pressure from Sami Hyypiä, before Van Gaal withdrew Tymoshchuk and sent on Ribery for the last half-hour.
Bayer sub Gonzalo Castro was booked for a heavy challenge on Ribery before the Frenchman had even touched the ball, but the game remained evenly-balanced and Michel Kadlec spooned a cross over the bar after haring clear down the left.
A Kroos drive drifted wide of Bayer keeper Rene Adler’s right-hand post, before Butt produced a superb block to deny Derdiyok, and was then a shade fortunate when he could only parry a Vidal drive, the rebound just evading the stretching Derdiyok.
Friedrich headed over his own bar under pressure from Gomez, although referee Meyer inexplicably gave a goal-kick, and FCB certainly looked the more energetic of the sides going into the closing stages. Both defences focused on keeping it tight as the clock ran down, and there was evidence of heavy legs on both sides, but Gomez headed the last chance over the bar and the champions had to settle for a point.
Chris Hamley at the BayArena for fcbayern.de
|Bayer Leverkusen - Bayern Munich 1-1 (H-T: 1-1)|
|Bayer Leverkusen||Adler - Schwaab (Castro 58), Friedrich, Hyypiä, Kadlec - Vidal, Rolfes - Sam, Renato Augusto (Bender 90), Barnetta (Balitsch 74) - Derdiyok|
|Bayern Munich||Butt - Lahm, Van Buyten, Breno, Pranjic - Timoshchuk (Ribéry 61), Ottl - Müller, Schweinsteiger, Kroos - Gomez|
|Substitutes:||Kraft, Contento, Braafheid, Altintop, Alaba|
|Referee:||Mr Meyer (Burgdorf)|
|Goals:||0-1 Gomez (34), 1-1 Vidal (45+2/pen.)|
|Yellow Cards:||Castro, Friedrich / Lahm, Ribéry|