Mainz - The FC Bayern Munich juggernaut powered on with an impressive 3-0 win away to 1. FSV Mainz 05 on Saturday afternoon, as the Bavarians extended their lead at the top of the table - for 24 hours at least - to 14 points.
Mainz on the front foot
Thomas Müller netted his eleventh goal of the season just before half-time to give Bayern the lead at the break, while Mario Mandzukic became the league's only player to have scored in every match in 2013 with a quick-fire double in the second period.
Right from the off it was clear to see why Mainz have such an impressive home record this season (six wins from nine prior to this match), as they relentlessly harried the visitors high up the pitch, hounding them in packs and denying them time on the ball. While the tactic served to keep the Reds at arm's length, it did little to disturb the Bavarians' seemingly unshakeable composure, as they went about their business as calmly as ever.
Indeed, while Bayern may have not been firing on all cylinders of late, they have ground out the necessary results, and as such coach Jupp Heynckes opted to name an unchanged side, leaving fit again Arjen Robben and Mario Gomez on the bench. The pace and movement of 19-year-old Shawn Parker did unsettle Bayern early on, but Mainz sorely lacked the physical presence of eleven-goal leading scorer Adam Szalai - absent through suspension - to further trouble the table-toppers.
Inevitably Mainz were unable to maintain their furious pressing game throughout the first half and gradually Bayern began to enjoy more freedom on the pitch. Nevertheless, the hosts remained committed and several Bayern players felt the full force of some thundering challenges. Javier Martinez went close with a header before Müller put the guests 1-0 up just before half-time. Toni Kroos' clever flick released the midfielder, who rounded the onrushing Christian Wetklo before slotting into an empty net.
Despite having had a quiet game until the break, Mandzukic swiftly justified his presence in the side after the restart when he doubled Bayern's lead. David Alaba rampaged down the left wing and after a neat one-two with Kroos on the edge of the box, the Austrian crossed for Mandzukic to flick home. The third goal was not long in coming either, and again it arrived a stunning team move. Excellent combination play from Müller and Philipp Lahm freed the captain to loop over a delightful cross that the grateful Mandzukic headed in uncahllenged.
Running down the clock
By now Mainz's gameplan was shot to pieces and the match became a question of damage limitation for the hosts. With a comfortable lead established, Bayern were happy to stroke the ball around midfield, patiently probing for the next opening, although Mainz were now sitting so deep there was little room for manoeuvre.
Robben and Gomez were given run-outs as the match entered its final stages, but even their creative talents could not alter the scoreline further. The result added to Bayern's already intimidating season statistics: Heynckes' charges have not conceded a goal since the turn of the year and have only dropped two points on their travels all term. On this form, they appear to be unstoppable.
Line-ups and statistics