Bayern Munich have come charging out of the blocks against Borussia Mönchengladbach in the first game after the Bundesliga's winter break. They disposed of their disappointing hosts 2-0 with minimum fuss.
The Bavarians dominated from the kick-off on Friday, and got the first goal in the seventh minute through Mario Götze - playing as a central striker in place of Mario Mandzukic who had apparently been dropped for not trying hard enough in training. ("We're Bayern Munich, and our standards are always the very highest," sporting director Matthias Sammer had said ahead of the game, and the Croatian had not worked "like an animal.")
Götze repaid the faith by the early period, exploiting every inch of space and somehow consistently finding room to get a shot in. When Thomas Müller was channeled to the touchline down the right wing, Götze hung back cleverly and found himself completely open with ample room to thrash into the left corner.
Bayern continued to dominate the home side for the next half hour - but Gladbach played too passively, sometimes looking resigned to the depressing task of containing Pep Guardiola's men as best they could.
Only towards the end of the half did the Foals show what had lifted them to third place in the first half of the season, with Max Kruse crashing into the penalty area and whipping in a dangerous shot that Manuel Neuer, hardly employed before, had to be alert enough to touch onto his near post. Then on the stroke of halftime, the Bayern goalkeeper had to stop Juan Arango with another sharp save.
Bayern eased to win
Gladbach began the second half with a more determined look about them, but just as in the first period they were undone by Bayern's first attack of the half. With just eight minutes gone, Götze once again brought chaos to the Gladbach penalty area, but he and several other forwards failed to make their efforts count as an almighty scramble unfolded.
Finally Gladbach midfielder Granit Xhaka did the Bavarians a favor by foolishly flinging his arm at the ball as it came across his chest, conceding a penalty. Thomas Müller spanked it in from the spot with disdain to get his eighth of the season and double the champions' lead.
The home side did not give up lightly - and Patrick Herrmann fashioned two fine chances within five minutes. The first time he was unlucky - his delicious shot beat Neuer only to hit the inside of the post and bounce out - but the second time he should have done much better when he found himself unmarked in the middle of the area to receive a cut back.
But in the end Bayern killed the game off efficiently enough - bringing on Arjen Robben for his first post-injury run about in the final ten minutes - and recorded their 15th win from 17 undefeated league games this season. Normal service has resumed.