Bayern Munich finished off their title-winning Bundesliga season with a 4-1 win over SC Freiburg on Saturday. The match marked the end of an era as it saw both Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso play their final football matches ever.
Due to the celebrations going on before the match and during half-time, the game almost had a testimonial feel to it, but Freiburg were still fighting for an outside chance at European qualification.
Bayern had a blistering start to the match, as the players seemed pumped up by the celebratory atmosphere. A few early crosses created promising chances, and it only took four minutes for Bayern to break the deadlock.
The “Cut Inside Man”, Arjen Robben, opened the scoring himself. A long pass from deep in the midfield by Xabi Alonso found Robben on the right wing. Then, as expected, he cut inside and curled in a beautiful shot with his golden left foot.
The shot did take a bit of a deflection, but Robben didn’t seem to mind scoring an impure goal.
Before the goal, Freiburg appeared to be defending very deeply. But they needed a result, so they were prompted to attack and leave their own half.
Not many chances were created before Jérôme Boateng fell awkwardly during a piece of defending. He was substituted shortly after, with Joshua Kimmich replacing the injured center back.
Bayern aimed to control and slow down the match with possession afterwards. However, Freiburg still managed some shots on target from Haberer and Grifo, prompting some good saves from Tom Starke.
Bayern started the second half similar to the first. They attacked from every conceivable direction, but were unable to break down Freiburg’s resolute defence.
The match was relatively open from both sides, as Robben managed to hit the crossbar after cutting inside yet again, and Tom Starke was forced to make a brilliant double save to keep Freiburg’s strikers out.
It was only after the match started to slow down again that Bayern made a breakthrough. A dazzling run from Robben freed up space for Arturo Vidal at the top of the box, who received the ball and placed it smartly in the bottom right corner.
The goal seemed to have awakened Freiburg, as substitute Nils Petersen scored just three minutes later. He made a smart run to get behind the defenders and slotted the ball into the far post.
Both teams seemed to accept the score line but in stoppage time, substitutes Franck Ribéry and Kimmich both scored to truly bury Freiburg. Ribéry’s came after another powerful run from Robben, while Kimmich scored from Lewandowski’s headed assist.
Bayern had most of their weapons at their disposal today, so they managed to create chances in a wide variety of ways. They started out sending in cross after cross to try to beat Freiburg in the air. Robben linked up well with Lahm on the right to create these opportunities.
Robben also did well on his own to beat defenders with pace and cut inside for shooting opportunities, winning an obscene number of corners from his efforts alone. Again, Bayern’s aerial threats were utilized from the resulting set pieces.
Xabi Alonso was also able to spray passes all over the pitch from his midfield position, while Vidal linked up with the other players to create chances through the middle for Thomas Müller and Robert Lewandowski.
Freiburg, on the other hand, started out looking to defend compactly in their own half to limit Bayern’s space for dribbling and passing. The tactic looked promising, but the crosses and wide play from Bayern opened them up too much to resist conceding goals.
Freiburg also attempted to counter using long balls towards Haberer and Niederlechner, but Bayern did well to cut them out. Only after Bayern suffered an injury and let up their pressure did Freiburg manage to score with a well-placed through ball assist.
The match was a wonderful send-off for Xabi Alonso and Lahm, who were recognized as legends of the sport. Bayern finished their fifth consecutive title-winning season with a dominant home win and enjoyed the celebrations afterwards.
On the down side of things, Lewandowski missed out on the Bundesliga top scorer award by one goal after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice for Dortmund. And Freiburg will officially miss out on the Europa League due to dropping to 7th place.
The only way for them to have a chance to qualify is if Dortmund win the DFB-Pokal. That would make 7th place eligible for entering the third round of Europa League qualification.
Either way, SC Freiburg have done remarkably well after winning the second division in their previous season and have a lot to be proud of.