Game in a sentence
Bayern Munich beat Juventus 2-0 in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals.
- Although it’s the Germans that are usually renowned for their confidence and mental strength, it was Antonio Conte expressing his side’s fearlessness before the match.
- But the reality on the pitch would lie in stark contrast with his words. It was Bayern that asserted its dominance a minute into the game.
- The German side created an abundance of opportunities. The score could have easily been 3-0 by the end of the first half. Despite all the stunning build ups it was David Alaba who scored the opening goal in the first minute.
- It all started with an uncharacteristic mistake by Andrea Pirlo. The midfielder gave away the ball in his own half. Alaba from roughly 25 yards took the shot. The ball deflected off Arturo Vidal and Buffon couldn’t recover on time to make the save.
- This must have been one of the fastest goals in Champions League history (believe it was scored 25 seconds into the game).
- As usual the Old Lady remained calm and collected, but the demeanour only lasted for the first ten minutes. Juventus struggled to assert themselves and couldn’t adjust to or neutralize Bayern’s persistent attacks.
- Unfortunately, Bayern would lose Toni Kroos, who was doing a phenomenal job at containing Pirlo, very early in the game. No immediate information was provided, but it appeared the midfielder sustained a groin injury.
- Arjen Robben came on to replace him forcing Thomas Mueller to move to the centre while the Dutch man went to the right. The change only spoke to the team’s depth with the likes of Mario Gomez, Xherdan Shaqiri, and Claudio Pizarro (who scored four beauties against Hamburg) remaining on the bench.
- Bayern may have the best, if not one of the best, right and left backs in the game with Philipp Lahm and Alaba. Both were imaginative and helping Bayern to commit players forward to create scoring chances.
- The first half established who the stronger side was. The Bavarians were clearly the more dominant team exploiting their opponents’ errors and utilizing space against a very compact Italian side. They made Juve appear ordinary, who until today were undefeated in the Champions League.
- For all the harsh criticism the German side received after their abysmal showing against Arsenal in the second leg, this was a much more alert and focused Bayern. They were hungrier in attack and executing a balanced game both offensively and defensively.
- They were comfortable ripping apart the Bianconeri’s five-man midfield and defence and looked most threatening from the flanks with Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben making onslaughts from the wings.
- Robben, as usual, had more than his share of golden chances. In the 17th minute his attempt was stopped by Gigi Buffon and a minute later he had another chance to increase the lead, but failed. Ribery was just as threatening from the left. He had a strong attempt in the 20th, which started with a steal from Mario Mandzukic, but the effort didn’t go very far.
- Right before the end of the first Alaba nearly made it 2-0 with another powerful long shot, but this one was saved by Buffon.
- While the Bianconeri improved in the second half and created more opportunities they just couldn’t neutralize the German side’s continual attacks. Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio were invisible. The Italian playmakers sure had forgettable performances, as did the rest.
- Bayern was giving the Old Lady barely any breathing space and with chances after chances, it was only a matter of time before they scored again. But that goal wasn’t to come until the 63rd minute.
- Luiz Gustavo had an attempt from afar that was cleared by Buffon, but Mandzukic controlled the rebound and slide it to Mueller, giving the German side a comfortable two-goal lead. This was one of Mandzukic’s standout and gritty performances. He was physical and an annoyance throughout the match.
- Juventus made a pair of substitutions bringing on Mirko Vucinic and Sebastian Giovinco for Alessandro Matri and Fabio Quagliarella. It was obvious the team’s problems weren’t just offensive and the changes barely made an impact. Paul Pogba also came on for Federico Peluso with 15 minutes remaining.
- There were earlier reports floating the internet that Conte was considering a 3-5-1-1 instead of a 3-5-2, whether that would have been the better choice remains unknown as football is always better understood in hindsight.
- Despite the lack of action in Manuel Neuer’s half, the goalie maintained his concentration and made two strong saves on Arturo Vidal in the 69th and 70th minute.
- Once they were two goals down, Juve appeared to open up trying to clinch an away-goal. But Bayern were in cruise control and proved to be a handful for the Turin side.
- It was difficult to praise a single player on the Italian side; it was a poor collective effort. While Buffon committed an earlier mistake he was probably the strongest player for Juve making a few important saves, especially in the 89th minute on two consecutive attempts by goal-getter Mueller.
- While Juve will play the next match at home, they will miss Vidal, who was booked along with Stephan Lichtsteiner.
- As for the refereeing, Mark Clattenburg attempts at leniency proved too inconsistent. The Mandzukic and Lichtsteiner bookings were quite harsh, whereas Vidal, who was eventually carded, was lucky to escape an earlier tackle on Ribery.
- While football is one of the most unpredictable sports, it’s clear Bayern can win this competition only if they play at 100% with full concentration. They can’t afford an Arsenal repeat, where they thrashed the English side only to nearly lose it in the second leg.
- Besides, Bayern may not have evoked fear in the hearts and minds of their opponents, but after today’s victory, the second leg will induce far more than just apprehension.