Five-star Bayern back in the title hunt

Five-star Bayern back in the title hunt
Photo: DPA
Bayern Munich finally gatecrashed the German title race on Saturday with an impressive away victory. Bayern produced a 5-1 romp at struggling Bochum, while Schalke won 2-0 at fellow title hopefuls Werder Bremen to edge the Bavarians into third.

Bayern’s win, coming hot on the heels of a four-goal Champions League success at Juventus, gave them 30 points from 16 games, two adrift of leaders Bayer Leverkusen, who just preserved their unbeaten league record this season with a 2-2 draw on Friday at tailenders Hertha Berlin.

With a week to go until the winter break Louis van Gaal’s men are finally firing on all cylinders just six weeks after they languished in eighth place, eight points off the summit.

A win over Mainz next week and the four-times European champions could just go into the Christmas break top of the heap.

But they lie third for now with Schalke muscling past Bremen into second thanks to goals from Kevin Kuranyi – a left-footed strike two minutes after the break – and then Jan Moravek, who fired in after Kuranyi set him up with 18 minutes remaining.

Czech star Moravek had only come on two minutes earlier for Croatian Ivan Rakitic in what proved to be an inspired substitution by coach Felix Magath, whose men are just a point off Leverkusen.

Bayern, meanwhile, cannot stop scoring. Fourteen goals in four games for two conceded tells its own story and strike tandem Mario Gomez and Ivica Olic have been leading rivals a merry

dance – leaving Germany international Miroslav Klose and World Cup winner Luca Toni on the first team fringes.

Gomez, the most expensive player in the history of the Bundesliga, opened the scoring on 23 minutes with his fourth in four games.

Then Olic, who has become a fan favourite after the injury absences of French star Franck Ribery in the first half of the season, notched a double either side of half-time following a Mergim Mavric own goal.

Croatian star Danijel Prandic completed the rout ten minutes after the restart. Christian Fuchs hit a consolation for Bochum, who are now in the bottom four.

“The players have digested the win over Juventus very well,” van Gaal enthused, “They were very concentrated and it’s been a great week, the best since I have been in Munich,” said the Dutchman, who is reportedly ready to let the out-of-favour Toni return to Italy. “We are only two points off top spot and that is very satisfying.”

Hamburg are only two points behind Bayern after a 4-0 destruction of Nuremberg with Eljero Elia scoring a double and Marcell Jansen and Tunay Torun likewise on target as all the goals came in the second half.

Hertha on Friday had Colombian Adrian Ramos to thank for both goals as the Berliners – winless since the opening day of the season – drew 2-2 with Leverkusen.

On Sunday, struggling Stuttgart travel to mid-table Mainz for Christian Gross’ first league game in charge since replacing Markus Babbel. Reigning champions VfL Wolfsburg host Borussia Dortmund with both sides hovering outside the top six.

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