Goalless Bayern disappoint ahead of Champions League semi-final
Bayern Munich produced a lacklustre performance against 1. FSV Mainz 05 as they drew 0-0 in the Allianz Arena on matchday 31 of the Bundesliga season.
Even before a ball had been kicked in today's evening fixture, Borussia Dortmund had extended their lead to 9 points at the top of the table with a 2-1 victory over Schalke 04 to virtually seal their defence of the Bundesliga title.
Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes had promised a rotation policy , and he was true to his word, with regular starters Franck Ribéry, Philipp Lahm, Luiz Gustavo, Mario Gomez and Toni Kroos all on the bench. Bastian Schweinsteiger was awarded the captain's armband.
A cagey first half produced very few chances, with Mainz closing down space quickly to frustrate the Reds as they tried to advance. A distinct lack of movement, creativity and below par ball control meant that neither side looked threatening.
Dutch international Arjen Robben and Austrian teenager David Alaba were sprightly in the middle third but their final ball let them down. Schweinsteiger enjoyed a roaming role, but found himself too deep when collecting the ball from defenders. After 21 minutes, Schweinsteiger floated the ball into the box but Thomas Müller failed to connect. In the 33rd minute, Robben was free in front of goal but was marginally offside.
At the other end of the field, Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was barely troubled, but the visitors did come close on 36 minutes after a comedy of errors from Robben and Holger Badstuber, which resulted in a shot over the bar from Hungarian striker Adam Szalai.
The home side produced a flurry of chances in the closing minutes of the half. A pile-driver from Anatoliy Tymoshchuk hit the post, Robben blasted over the bar, and Ivica Olic tried to lob the keeper after beating the offside trap but the ball went straight into the keeper's arms.
The second half saw the introduction of Franck Ribéry, who replaced Alaba. The orange-booted Frenchman immediately added vitality to Bayern's attacking play.
Tymoshchuk's shot from distance went narrowly wide after 53 minutes.
In the opposite half, Szalai had a handful of half-chances but lacked support from his teammates.
After Heynckes had brought on Mario Gomez (for Olic) with half an hour remaining, Bayern showed greater urgency as they searched for an opening goal. However, the home fans grew increasingly frustrated by FCB's lack of finishing. A flick-on from Robben after 64 minutes found Gomez, who blazed over the bar. Two minutes later, Rafinha crossed accurately but 'Super Mario' failed to connect.
With 15 minutes to go, Marco Caligiuri outpaced Bayern defender Jérôme Boateng but his shot was saved easily by Neuer. A through-ball from Badstuber in the 86th minute found Robben, who shot wide. And Mainz keeper Heinz Müller (ex-Barnsley) saved from Kroos (on for Müller) with two minutes left.
After their first goalless draw at home since September 2010, the record German champions are virtually assured 2nd place in the Bundesliga, but they have little chance of catching Dortmund, who need just two points from their remaining three games to seal the title.
Bayern's focus now shifts to their Champions League semi-final first leg against Real Madrid on Tuesday.