Bayern Munich returned to the top of the Bundesliga following a comprehensive thrashing of Cologne. The visitors, led by the impressive Thomas Müller, raced into a three-goal lead early on and never looked back.
Cologne 1-4 Bayern Munich
(Uth 70' - Lewandowski 3', Coman 5', Gnabry 12' 66')
Müngersdorfer Stadion, Cologne
As is tradition in this part of Germany at this time of year, FC Cologne lined up against Bayern Munich in special carnival kits. In another tradition, Bayern ran out comfortable winners to return to the top of the table.
Robert Lewandowski, Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry put the reigning champions three goals up inside the opening 12 minutes, and it could have been even more, Gnabry and Joshua Kimmich hitting the woodwork in a dominant first half.
He may not have scored but Thomas Müller was imperious, setting up two goals and also helping out at the back on the rare occasions Cologne got forward – but the gulf in class was astonishing.
To their credit, Cologne reacted at half-time and Jhon Cordoba quickly had the ball in the net – twice – but both goals were correctly ruled out for offside. Bayern capitalized, Gnabry firing in a fourth.
Cologne weren’t deterred and were rewarded for an improved performance when Mark Uth pulled one back. Substitute Anthony Modeste also had chances late on as the hosts managed to create more chances than Bayern and edge the second half. But it was too little, too late.
As it happened! Relive the action below:
Full-time: Cologne 1-4 Bayern Munich
88' Two late chances for Cologne substitute Anthony Modeste, but twice the Frenchman is denied by Neuer. In the second half, Cologne have actually created more chances than Bayern.
79' Bayern sub: Kingsley Coman is replaced by Leon Goretzka.
78' Lewandowski is surrounded by three or four defenders on the edge of the box but he twists and turns and still somehow gets a shot away, with Horn saves. At the other end, Cordoba performs a similar trick to go one-on-one with Neuer, but again the goalkeeper's union holds firm.
76' ... Neuer plucks the free-kick out of the sky. But Cologne have been much better in this second period.
75' Uth tries to dribble through the Bayern defense but eventually loses the ball. Cologne win a free-kick on the left-hand side ...
70' GOAL! Cologne 1-4 Bayern (Uth)
Cologne have one back and they deserve it for their improved second-half performance. Cordoba plays in Kainz on the left and the young full-back crosses for Uth to tap home from close range. "Kölle alaaf!" The carnival cry rings out from the home fans.
68' "Deutscher Fußball Meister, FCB!" rings out from the away end: "German football champions, FCB!" This result will put Bayern back on top, one point ahead of RB Leipzig, and those traveling fans clearly believe their team will stay there.
66' GOAL! Cologne 0-4 Bayern (Gnabry)
The German international picks the ball up on the left wing, dribbles inside past a couple of Cologne defenders and fires into the top corner from outside the box. What a finish, and if it wasn't game over already, it is now.
62' Chance for Cologne! Uth latches onto Kainz's throughball but Neuer is quick off the mark to clear. With the Bayern goalkeeper out of his box, Drexler tries one from distance but it's a few meters off target.
60' Tolisso is disposessed with his first touch and Cologne attack with purpose. When Bayern try to bring the ball out with Müller, Ehizibue immediately wins the ball back. The ball goes into the box again and there are Cologne shouts for a penalty as Pavard challenges Cordoba. All in all, a much better passage of play from Cologne.
59' Bayern sub: Joshua Kimmich is replaced by Corentin Tolisso.
55' Jhon Cordoba has the ball in the back of the net again, finishing from close range after Neuer saves from Kainz. But the Colombian was clearly offside and knew it.
53' Kimmich does well to clear a cross from the Cologne left, with Cordoba lurking.
49' Thiago goes into the book for a foul on Cordoba.
47' VAR: NO GOAL (offside)
And, as expected, the video assistant over on the other side of the river in Cologne rules the goal out. Correct decision.
46' GOAL! Cologne 1-3 Bayern (Cordoba)
Cologne immediately seem to have pulled one back but Jhon Cordoba appears to have been offside ... VAR checks ...
KICK-OFF! We're back underway!
Lucas Hernandez has replaced Jerome Boateng for Bayern.
HALF-TIME: Cologne 0-3 Bayern Munich
As crazy as it sounds, Cologne have actually got away with it so far. It could already have been so, so much worse. Bayern Munich came flying out of the blocks and were 3-0 up inside 12 minutes through Lewandowski, Coman and Gnabry. The latter has also hit the bar and Kimmich has hit the post. Thomas Müller has two assists and has covered seemingly every blade of grass on the pitch. A masterclass from Bayern. A catastrophe for Cologne.
45+3' At the other end, Coman crosses low and Thomas Müller (again) shoots over.
45+1' With half-time approaching, Cologne have a free-kick on the edge of the Bayern box. Mark Uth swings it in but who's there to clear for Bayern? Thomas Müller. That man is absolutely everywhere this afternoon.
44' Lewandowski heads over from a corner.
40' Serge Gnabry fires over from distance. It's just wave after wave after wave of Bayern attacks.
37' Post! Joshua Kimmich fires a speculative effort into a crowded penalty area and the shot swerves all the way through! Timo Horn gets just enough on the ball to tip it onto the post - great save!
34' And now Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn is down injured with what looks like a calf problem. Or maybe he's just had enough of seeing shot after shot fly into his net.
33' Bayern continue to flood forward. Coman dummies in the box to allow Müller to shoot but he screws his shot wide.
28' Crossbar! Gnabry runs onto Müller's throughball and rounds Horn but his shot from a tight angle comes back off the bar.
26' This is the earliest Bayern have been three goals up in a Bundesliga match since January 20, 1974. On that day, they beat Rot-Weiß Oberhausen 5-3. Somehow, I can't see Cologne scoring three here.
25' A Bayern corner lands at Coman's feet and he lashes his shot wide.
21' At the other end, Cologne full-back Kingsley Ehizibue tries to inject some impetus down the right but his cross his high and long and finds nobody.
20' Thiago starts a lovely flowing move from Bayern with a clever step-over in the center-circle. The move ends with Thiago himself shooting just wide.
19' Thomas Müller is running the show so far. His two assists already today take him to 14 for the season.
17' Carnival doesn't even really get underway until next but Cologne look like they've started early.
12' GOAL! Cologne 0-3 Bayern (Gnabry)
Cologne are good at scoring from corners, but they can't defend them. A deep corner finds Serge Gnabry at the back post who has time and space in the box to control, turn, beat a man and fire home Bayern's third. Dear oh dear oh dear.
8' Timo Horn parries a long-range effort from Joshua Kimmich, who had so much time and space on the edge of the box that he'll probably be disappointed with that.
5' GOAL! Cologne 0-2 Bayern (Coman)
It's so, so, so easy. Davies plays the ball into Lewandowski from the left. He is able to control, turn and move it on to Müller, who in turn finds Coman - all inside the 18-yard-box. Coman finishes cooly and it's effectively game over already. Awful from Cologne, perfect from Bayern.
2' GOAL! Cologne 0-1 Bayern (Lewandowski)
Well, that didn't take long. Thiago, Müller and Lewandowski pass their way through the Cologne defense with ease and the Pole finishes emphatically into the roof of the net. A perfect start for Bayern!
KICK-OFF! We're underway in Cologne
A quick look at the numbers ahead of kick-off reveals that this is the 92nd Bundesliga meeting between two of Germany's biggest and most historic clubs. So far, there have been 45 wins for Bayern, 23 for Cologne and 23 draws. In fact, Cologne haven't beaten the Bavarians in their last 11 attempts.
One thing for Bayern to look out for today though: Cologne's corners. The Billy Goats have scored ten goals from corner kicks this season - a Bundesliga high.
- Cologne team news:
Markus Gisdol has overseen an impressive run of form in Cologne, so if it's not broken, why fix it? No changes in his team, who will play in special carnival kits today.
Cologne XI (4-5-1): Horn - Ehizibue, Bornauw, Czichos, Katterbach - Drexler, Skhiri, Hector, Uth, Jakobs - Cordoba
- Bayern Munich team news
Hansi Flick makes only one change from last week's draw with RB Leipzig, and it's a rather offensive one as Kingsley Coman replaces Leon Goretzka. Thiago Alcantara, Thomas Müller, Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski also start as Bayern go all-out-attack.
Bayern XI (4-2-3-1): Neuer - Pavard, Boateng, Alaba, Davies - Kimmich, Thiago - Gnabry, Müller, Coman - Lewandowski
- DW in Cologne
Our man at the game today is Felix Tamsut. Follow him on Twitter for his insights on the ground!
- Flick's return
Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick made 44 Bundesliga appearances for Cologne as a player between 1990 and 1993.
- Cologne back in action
Bayern's opponents today have had two weeks off after last weekend's Rhineland derby fell victim to Storm Sabine, which swept through western Germany. Before that however, Cologne had won five out of six, moving them six points clear of the relegation zone with a game in hand.
The Billy Goats are particularly strong at home; they've won four and drawn one of their last five games at their Müngersdorfer Stadion. Another win today would be the biggest scalp of all.
-Guten Tag! Or as they say in Cologne during carnival season: Alaaf! And welcome to DW's live coverage of Cologne vs. Bayern Munich.
After eight wins on the bounce, Bayern were held to a goalless draw last week by RB Leipzig, who went top of the Bundesliga overnight following yesterday's win over Werder Bremen. But the champions can return to the top today with a win in Cologne. Kick-off is at 15:30 CET.