Game in a sentence

A classic heavyweight encounter between two powers of European football delivered knock-down punch after knock-down punch until Goran Pandev’s dramatic 88th minute winner floored Bayern Munich for good.

Observations

  • Without doubt this was one of the best European Champions League games of all time. It was simply breathtaking from the moment Samuel Eto’o scored just 181 seconds into the match.
  • The Cameroon international is arguably one of the best players in the game today and changed the tie three minutes into the game and once again two minutes from time when he outmuscled Breno, charged into the Bayern box, drawing the Macedonian’s marker towards him, and placed it perfectly for the unmarked Pandev to slot home.
  • Pandev proved to be a remarkable hero after a lackluster display. Throughout the match his lack of pace (and right foot) cost Inter a number of times in possession and lots of Inter fans on twitter were messaging me wanting Leonardo to take him off. However, his finish was brilliant.
  • Its an old cliche but it’s one that tells the story of this game. Goals change games. Inter were in control in the first 20 minutes and could have been ahead by two goals until Julio Cesar incredibly made another error in this tie to allow Mario Gomez to equalize.
  • The Brazilian goalkeeper made a massive mistake but Gomez still showed why he is one of the most in-form strikers in Europe, hooking the ball over his shoulder, and Cesar, to score. The goal spurred Bayern, who went for the knock out as Inter looked demoralized for the rest of the first half.
  • The remaining 25 minutes of the first half was one of the most entertaining periods of Champions League football you’ll ever see. Unless you’re an Inter Milan fan that is. Arjen Robben was a wizard, cutting in, showing great invention and pace to link with team-mates centrally, particularly Franck Ribery, and when Thomas Muller scored just after the half hour it looked like the champions were going out.
  • Bayern kept Inter up against the ropes; the shaky Andrea Ranocchia allowed Ribery to breakthrough alone but Cesar was magnificent in keeping the game close to deny the Frenchman and again shortly after, stopping Gomez on the volley.
  • It was 2-1 on the night for Bayern at half-time but really it could have been 4 or 5-1. However, Inter knew they were still in the tie and anytime they showed invention in the final third, Bayern’s defence looked shaky.
  • Leonardo – who isn’t praised for his tactical knowledge – needs to be praised for switching to a 4-3-3 very early in the second half, bringing on Phillippe Coutinho, and allowing Wesley Sneijder to come into the game centrally, having previously been used on the leftside of midfield. The Dutchman was lethal combining with Eto’o and his second goal, blasted from 2o yards out, changed the game again. Bayern looked like a team who didn’t quite believe in themselves, even when they led by two goals and were in complete control, and looked even more nervous once they game was tied.
  • In truth it was really quite remarkable to see two teams, who less than 10 months ago were in the final of this very competition, show so many flaws. In the end it was perhaps fitting that the tie over two legs ended all square and had to be separated by away goals.
  • Bayern, who become just the second team in the history of the Champions League to lose after winning the first leg away from home, must now be questioning their reasoning for keeping manager Louis Van Gaal around until the end of the season. They have terrific weapons going forward but are very poor at the back and that’s why they have nothing left to play for this season.
  • Inter, meanwhile, still have a lot to play for but are a far different team than the side that won the title last May. On this night they were exhilarating going forward and laughably pathetic in defence. It’s a style that wins very few trophies but one that is easy on the eyes for neutrals.

Three Stars

  1. Samuel Eto’o
  2. Wesley Sneijder
  3. Arjen Robben

Match Stats.

Kristian Jack