Bayern take 'step in the right direction'
The man of the day was not part of the Bayern party boarding the plane to Munich from Bremen airport on Saturday evening. Serge Gnabry played a crucial role in the 2-1 victory away to Bremen, scoring a brace. After the match the 23-year-old forward travelled to Bakum-Vestrup, about 70 kilometres from Bremen, for a visit to fan club Bakumer Germanen.
"These things only happen in football," Thomas Müller said with a grin after the match. None other than former Bremen pro Gnabry, who played for Werder in the 2016/17 season, was the man of the match on Saturday - on the day of his visit to the fan club, which had been agreed long ago. It was hardly surprising the fans in Bakum hailed the Bayern player just as his team-mates had at the sold-out Weserstadion.
Gnabry replaces two-goal Robben and bags brace
"A compliment to him, it's nice he scored two goals," coach Niko Kovac said in praise of Gnabry, who replaced Arjen Robben, sidelined with a knock. Robben, who had scored two goals against Benfica on Tuesday, was originally part of the starting line-up against Bremen but felt "a little tired," explained Kovac: "We didn't want to take any risks, Serge had performed well beforehand, and he maintained the level. We did everything right."
Gnabry repaid the trust, putting the dominant Bavarians ahead twice. "It's no secret Serge can play football," commented Müller. Bremen's Yuya Osako levelled the scores for the hosts after the half-hour mark, but they ultimately lost their 16th Bundesliga match in a row against Bayern. No other Bundesliga team has won so many consecutive matches against another club.
"I'm very happy today, not only because we won, but also because we turned in a very dominant display," Kovac said after the seventh victory so far this campaign. His team "did a really good job technically, tactically, but towards the end also in terms of fighting spirit." The Bayern coach was also glad about the return of Kingsley Coman and Thiago, who made their comebacks after being sidelined with injury. Franck Ribéry had to be replaced with a knock to his thigh, "he has a muscle problem," explained the 47-year-old.
Kovac only found fault with the conversion of chances. "We should have scored three, four more goals. But if we continue to play so well and everybody's so focused it's a step in the right direction," Kovac said, drawing a positive conclusion. Müller agreed: "We've done our part so that we're in calmer waters again. We won two matches in a row, and the way we did was good over long spells, so everything's okay if the result is right."
The right result was in no small part due to comeback kid Gnabry. "I hadn't scored two goals in one match for FC Bayern beforehand, so it's been a good day for me," said the Germany international, whose goal celebrations were subdued "out of respect" for his former club. "I had a superb time here in Bremen." And a superb time was to follow on Saturday. He thrilled about 300 fan club members with his likeable and unassuming demeanour on his visit to the Bakumer Germanen.