Below-par Bayern Munich dropped points for the first time since November in a disappointing 1-1 home draw against resolute Schalke on Saturday.
It all looked plain sailing when Robert Lewandowski chipped the German champions ahead as early as the ninth minute. But Brazilian defender Naldo's rasping free kick completely deceived ex-Schalke keeper Manuel Neuer in the Bayern goal only four minutes later to provide a shock equaliser for the visitors.
Bayern could easily have surrendered their proud unbeaten home record against a sharp Schalke side. With the precious point, they moved four points clear of RB Leipzig, who kindly lost at Borussia Dortmund. Wonder if Karl-Heinz Rummenigge will again deliver a wagon full of Weisswurst and Weissbier to Dortmund?
After fortunate victories in Freiburg and Bremen following a month's hibernation, Bayern were slow and ponderous once again and deservedly had to settle for a point -- despite going ahead inside the opening 10 minutes.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- With Bayern below their best and Arturo Vidal clearly struggling, changes were needed well before the 72nd minute, but Carlo Ancelotti erroneously gave his misfiring players the benefit of the doubt for too long.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Manuel Neuer, 5 -- The Gelsenkirchen-born goalkeeper was awfully nice to his former love and produced a collector's item --dropping a rare clanger on Naldo's nasty set piece equaliser. Neuer made up for it with a fine reaction save from Chelsea-target Sead Kolasinac in the first half.
DF Juan Bernat, 6 -- The Spanish international replaced David Alaba at left-back as Bayern rotated with a heavy schedule in mind. Bernat came close to scoring midway through the first half but saw his shot blocked by Ralf Fahrmann. He also produced a fine saving tackle as Schalke ran Bayern a little ragged during the first half.
DF Javi Martinez, 6 -- Record signing Martinez missed a golden chance to win the game with five minutes remaining when he fired narrowly wide when well placed inside the box. A yellow card for dissent summed up his frustrations.
DF Mats Hummels, 7 -- Bayern's best defender this season suffered a nasty clash of heads with World Cup winning teammate Benedikt Howedes and saw a late header loop over.
DF Rafinha, 5 -- Stepped in for skipper Philipp Lahm at right-back against his former side. But the twice-capped Brazilian was caught napping once too often on the counter attack.
MF Xabi Alonso, 6 -- Nothing remarkable from the 35-year-old Basque, who fired a late shot over the bar on a less-than-memorable 100th Bayern appearance.
MF Arturo Vidal, 5 -- Vidal doesn't look fully fit after struggling with a rib injury in recent weeks. He did set Lewandowski up nicely for the goal, but the combative Chilean midfielder undid his good early work by giving away a cheap free kick for the equaliser. He definitely left the pitch after the half-time whistle clutching his rib, so it was a major surprise -- and unnecessary -- that Vidal managed to play the entire game.
MF Douglas Costa, 5 -- Woefully disappointing after replacing the injured Franck Ribery on the left wing, only producing a late drive straight at Fahrmann with time running out.
MF Arjen Robben, 5 -- The "Flying Dutchman's" least-effective display in recent memory, and he was hooked off for Kingsley Coman on 72 minutes.
MF Thomas Muller, 5 -- Another largely anonymous display and lucky to stay on the pitch for the whole 90 minutes. Muller could have gone from zero to hero at the end but took a clumsy touch, and the chance went begging.
FW Robert Lewandowski, 7 -- The best of a bad Bayern bunch in attack, adding his 15th league goal of the season after taking advantage of fine work from Robben and Vidal to chip exquisitely over the onrushing keeper Fahrmann after only nine minutes. Also hit the crossbar shortly before the break in a decent day's work.
MF Kingsley Coman, N/R -- Coman replaced the ineffective Robben with a little under 20 minutes remaining, but the young French winger couldn't provide any attacking impetus.
DF Philipp Lahm, N/R -- A late replacement for Rafinha on his 500th appearance for the club, but only his 23rd as a substitute. On reaching his milestone, tried hard to make it a special day -- to no avail.
DF David Alaba, N/R -- Alaba replaced Bernat late on and set up Martinez for the game-winning chance, which went astray.