Bayern were indebted to former Hamburg hero Ivica Olic for the second-half equaliser which salvaged a draw in Saturday’s Bundesliga clash away to HSV, although it was a frustrating evening for the Bavarians, who dominated the play but conceded to the home side’s solitary on-target chance, and now slip to second in the standings behind Dortmund.
The 57,000 full house at the Imtech Arena saw the visitors take control early on, but Jupp Heynckes’ men fell behind midway through the first half, Jacopo Sala volleying his maiden Bundesliga goal against the run of play.
Munich continued to dominate possession as the game wore on, but chances were few and far between against the home side’s packed defence. Ex-HSV forward Olic finally netted the equaliser with 20 minutes to go, but there were no further goals on an ultimately exasperating night for the Reds.
The result means FCB slip to second in the Bundesliga on 41 points from 20 matches, two points adrift of Borussia Dortmund, level with Schalke, and one clear of Mönchengladbach. The Bavarians are next in action on Wednesday, away to Stuttgart in the DFB Cup quarter-finals, before strugglers Kaiserslautern visit the Allianz Arena in the league on Saturday 11 February.
In the absence of injured pair Daniel van Buyten and Diego Contento, and with Breno unavailable and Rafinha suspended, Heynckes was obliged to reshuffle his defence for the second time in a week. Manuel Neuer kept goal as usual, but the back four was a slightly unfamiliar one with Anatoliy Tymoshchuk standing in at right-back, Holger Badstuber partnering ex-HSV man Jerome Boateng at centre-half, and captain Philipp Lahm over on the left.
By contrast, the attacking unit all but picked itself, with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos in central positions, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben out wide, Mario Gomez at centre-forward, and Thomas Müller in his favoured position in behind the league’s leading scorer.
Hamburg coach, former FCB stalwart Thorsten Fink, picked a clutch of ex-Bayern men for the clash traditionally billed as the north-south showdown, with David Jarolim, Marcell Jansen and Paolo Guerrero all keen to atone for HSV’s disastrous display in their last home match when they were trounced 5-1 by Dortmund.
Once referee Knut Kircher whistled play underway on a bitterly cold night in the north of the country, the home side settled much the quicker and Mladen Petric aimed a header wide of goal, before Kroos cleared off the line as the Croat hitman sought to take advantage of Heiko Westermann’s headed ball into the danger zone.
But FCB soon settled and home keeper Jaroslav Drobny saved from Müller, before turning a fierce Ribery drive round the post. From the ensuing corner, Westermann nodded the ball over his own line, but Mr Kircher had already whistled for an apparent foul by Gomez. Drobny again denied Müller and Gomez saw a shot deflected just wide, but youthful Italian Sala stunned the visitors on 23 minutes with his first Bundesliga goal, a crisp volley from Guerrero’s dinked pass.
Ribery blasted a free-kick into the wall and Drobny brilliantly diverted Robben’s shot away to safety, but Fink’s side were massed in defence now and Munich struggled to find gaps. Ribery, Müller and Robben frequently swapped positions in an effort to pull Westermann and Co out of shape, but Robben hammered a drive just wide and HSV protected their lead through to the interval.
The second half opened with a scare for Bayern as Jansen hared forward on the break and crossed for Sala, but the former Chelsea youth aimed his finish too high. The match soon resumed its previous pattern with the visitors controlling the bulk of the possession, but chances still proved elusive and Heynckes opted for a change on the hour, David Alaba taking over from Tymoshchuk but taking up station at left-back, with Lahm switching sides.
Kroos smacked a free-kick against the Hamburg wall and was promptly replaced by former home hero Olic, before Drobny grabbed a Ribery shot at the second attempt and then dealt comfortably enough with the Frenchman’s next effort.
Petric fired a rare Hamburg chance over Neuer’s bar, but Bayern were finally rewarded for their effort and dominance on 71 minutes when Olic stabbed home the loose ball after Müller’s shot from Ribery’s corner was blocked. Robben came within inches of handing his side the lead with the next chance, but HSV had not settled for the point yet as subs Ivo Ilicevic and Heung-Min Son combined well, the South Korean rounding Neuer but hitting the side-netting from an acute angle.
In the frantic closing phase, Schweinsteiger whistled a long-range drive just wide, the Munich defence crowded out Son as he dribbled into the box, and Olic speared a shot over the bar, but it was not to be on a trying evening for Heynckes’ men.
Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley