Bayern Munich made history on Saturday with a 4-0 win over Schalke at the Veltins-Arena, completing their 31st consecutive unbeaten Bundesliga match.
Pep Guardiola's side were quick to settle into their stride in this tricky encounter as the Bavarian champions set up for a match that they considered no less than a must win following Dortmund's earlier 1-1 draw with Nurnberg and two points dropped.
Alas it didn't take long for the visitors to take the lead, when a corner from Arjen Robben in the 21st minute found the unmarked Bastian Schweinsteiger in the box who duly knocked in for the opening goal.
Schalke still seemed in shock when Bayern ran back up the pitch and scored their second just moments later when David Alaba, a full back enjoying the best form of his career at the moment, skipped past Atsuto Uchida and swung a high curling ball in to the box, allowing Mario Mandzukic to properly peel away from Joel Matip and casually head the ball past Timo Hildebrand in goal.
From here on in, Schalke were as good as done as Bayern clicked into first gear and continued threatening the hosts with counter attacks and dangerous set-pieces without ever truly having to lift their game.
The second half was almost identical to the first in the manner in which Schalke struggled to impose any sense of domination on their opponents as Bayern continued to march towards victory. For every darting run from Jefferson Farfan or Kevin-Prince Boateng, there was an identical opportunity from Franck Ribery or Robben that contained that extra quality to get past the Schalke defence and score.
Pep's men finally put the Royal Blues out of their misery in the 75th minute when an acute through ball from Schweinsteiger found Alaba on the edge of the Schalke box, who then crossed for Ribery to calmly walk the ball into the net.
If there were ever a goal to sum up an entire match, it would have been this one.
Late substitutes Thomas Muller and Claudio Pizarro were even able to work their magic just moments from time to allow the Peruvian striker a rare goal in a match that had Bayern players lining up for the honour. Schalke were well and truly beaten at the hands of an outstanding Bayern team.
Post Match Reaction
A quick browse of Twitter was enough to summarise just how one-sided the opinion of this game truly was.
Schalke have died here. Bayern have been clinical yes but there is a question behind the body language of Schalke. Pride?— Jonathan Harding (@JonBloggs66) September 21, 2013
Not a tight match in the end. Comfortable for Bayern. Squad gelling together.— Tom Rowland (@TWRowland) September 21, 2013
4-0. Just embarrassing for Schalke now. Mueller to @pizarrinha for the Peruvian's first goal of the season.— Ciarán Fahey (@cfaheyAP) September 21, 2013
Guardiola's hails the 4-0 win against Schalke as the team's best display under him. Hard to disagree. Clinical in face of poor opponents.— MunichNOW_Sport (@MunichNOW_Sport) September 21, 2013
The club captain was again asked to play defensive midfielder yet this time he played alongside Schweinsteiger in the middle of the pitch, instead of simply replacing him. Yet the two worked in perfect synchronisation and alongside Toni Kroos, the midfield trio truly dominated the entire match.
It comes as no surprise that in a game in which Bayern put four goals past their opponents, Franck Ribery was at the heart of everything that went the Bavarian club's way. With two shots on target, a goal and three successful dribbles past Schalke players, the left winger was easily Bayern's most effective player.
Man of the Match: Bastian Schweinsteiger
In a return match that should have been no more than a conservative 45 minutes on his way to full recovery, Schweinsteiger wasted no time in returning to his former role of midfield general. Bullish in his sweeping up of Schalke attacks and artistic in his circulation of the ball in possession, the German vice captain proved once again just why he's considered one of the best midfielders in the world.
All stats from Whoscored.com