Germany: Bundesliga
3 - 0
(1 - 0)
FC Bayern
T. Müller (41), K. Coman (64), S. Gnabry (73)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

15:30 Kickoffs: Bayern dust off Bochum, Dortmund keep pace, Hoffenheim's woes continue

FC Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund were able to take care of business in the latest Bundesliga round of 15:30 kickoffs. Wins for both sides place them in first and second place in the table, respectively. 

Mainz, Freiburg, and Leverkusen were also able to pick up three points during a set of simultaneous kickoffs that featured no draws. Augsburg, Stuttgart, and the still horribly wobbly Hoffenheim came out losers this time around. 
Julian Nagelsmann's German giants are back on top of the Bundesliga after dusting off VfL Bochum 3-0 Saturday at the Allianz Arena. No one - not even 1. FC Union Berlin - will be able to overtake the record champs before the weekend is out. Bayern could be described as workmanlike in their breezy victory over a team not given much of a chance against them. There were still some interesting goings-on in what was a thoroughly entertaining match.

Nagelsmann had to make some adjustments to the XI that beat Wolfsburg last Sunday with midfielder Joshua Kimmich had to serve a suspension. As the FCB trainer  had previously indicated, Leon Goretzka would run the midfield as a "solo six". Nagelsmann reverted to the back-three that beat Mainz in the Pokal last week. The returning Dayot Upamecano anchored the back-chain alongside Benjamin Pavard and Matthijs de Ligt. Surprisingly, Serge Gnabry replaced Kingsley Coman opposite Joao Cancelo at wingback. Thomas Müller and returnee Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting spearheaded what looked like a 3-1-4-2.

Bochum trainer Thomas Letsch - after a spry performance from his side in the midweek Pokal fixture against Dortmund - made three changes to the XI he deployed some three days ago. Konstantinos Stafylidis, Pierre Kunde-Malong, and Simon Zoller started in place of Danilo Soares, Kevin Stöger, and Takuma Asano. The visiting Westphalians lined up in a clear 4-2-3-1. The two clubs, having enjoyed friendly relations for some five decades, commemorated 50 years of their ultra-alliances with a sitting ceremony prior to kickoff.

To the surprise of few, the hosting Bavarians exhibited early dominance and racked up plenty of promising scoring opportunities in the opening ten minutes. Müller, Choupo, and Leroy Sané took many balls off their guests via a high-press and made several incursions into the VfL area. Cancelo hit the side netting in the 16th and came very close to finding the back of it less than a minute later. Gnabry whizzed a shot just past the post some seven minutes after that.

The German giants continued to ensure that nary a peep was to be heard from Bochum. Shortly before the change of ends, Nagelsmann's crew really began to pile on. VfL keeper Manuel Riemann had to make an impressive double-save on Müller and Gnabry in the 34th. The unavoidable breakthrough came on a howler from journeyman Bochum defender Saidy Janko in the 41st. The Swiss wanderer played a horrible back-pass to his keeper. Müller was lurking to pounnce. Though Riemann was able to stop Müller's first effort, a rebound-finish led to the 1-0.

Both coaches employed changes at the half. Nagelsmann actually took Müller off in favor of Alphonso Davies. Letsch turned to workhorse Kevin Stöger over Philipp Förster. Bochum did take advantage of Bayern's tactical re-format and produced some light danger in the opening minutes. It nevertheless wasn't long before the heavy favorites put the game beyond reach. Some five minutes after he came on for Cancelo, Coman finished off the 2-0 in the 64th after some lovely passing work from Sané, Goretzka, and Jamal Musiala.

Serge Gnabry added the third goal from the penalty spot in the 73rd. Once again, it was Janko making the mistake for Bochum. The 27-year-old hauled down Gnabry in the penalty area after the German attacker beat him with some fancy footwork. The final phase of the game saw Nagelsmann introduce young phenom Arijon Ibrahimovic. The 17-year-old debutant twice tested Riemann as his side went in search of the 4-0.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga's 15:30 kickoffs, Xabi Alonso's Leverkusen were able to rather easily spoil the debut of new TSG 1899 Hoffenheim trainer Pellegrino Matarazzo. Robert Andrich, Moussa Diaby, and Adam Hlozek all scored in a 3-1 victory over the Sinsheimers at the Pre-Zero Arena. Jeremie Frimpong bagged a brace of assists.

Over at the MEWE Arena in the Palatinate, Mainz defeated Augsburg by the same scoreline. South Korean international Jae-Sung Lee registered a scorer's brace in the win. At the southern tip of the Bundesrepublik, Freiburg defeated Stuttgart 2-1 thanks to two Vincenzo Grifo penalties. Stuttgart's Dan-Axel Zagadou was the guilty party that gifted the winners the pair of spot kicks.

Freiburg, without the suspended Christian Streich on the touchline, captured their first victory without Streich in the legendary coach's 11-plus-year tenure. Insofar as Bundesliga coaching is concerned, BVB trainer Edin Terzic remains the "man-of-the-moment". Borussia Dortmund continued their perfect start to the new calendar year with a 2-0 win over Bremen.

Dortmund have now won all six of their 2023 fixtures. The red-hot Julian Brandt and Jamie Bynoe-Gittens contributed goals. Unlike in the reverse fixture, there would be no late three-goal comeback from Werder this time. Terzic's Schwarzgelben now occupy second place, with Union having a chance to overtake this evening.

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