Harding’s Hark - The Inside Story: Bayern Lose but Manner More Concerning Than Occurrence
Bayern Munich suffered a surprise 3-2 defeat to Manchester City on the final matchday in Group D of the UEFA Champions League. The result meant that Bayern missed out on the chance to win all six of their group games, what would have been a club first, but they did still finish top of the group ahead of their English opponents. Jonathan Harding muses over the result.
He asked for more after seven in Bremen and many shook their heads. After a quarter of an hour in Munich on Tuesday night, they might have regretted it. Bayern burst onto the pitch in the Allianz Arena as if they had something to prove, pressing hard and searching for yet another early lead. Dante delightful, Mueller majestic and soon Joe Hart was picking the ball out of his net.
With it all going their way, Mueller’s foot looked to be fractionally offside when the ball came through, Bayern hunted for more. With Ribery looking keen and Mandzukic busy, Mario Goetze was on hand to sweep home a second after City dawdled from a corner. That was that…
… Maybe not. Bayern had made Europe’s top competition look all too easy for them and City, with perhaps one eye on the weekend (a league game vs the leaders Arsenal), didn’t look too bothered. As soon as they did though, they scored. Boateng failed to clear a cross and David Silva responded gleefully. A goal conceded. Heaven forbid.
And yet Bayern, at least the one weighted with expectation and collective and individual brilliance, failed to appear for the second half. Once the visitors overcame their surprise at this, City’s sporadic counterattacks proved effective. A soft penalty later, and both momentum and lady luck had swapped sides. 2-2.
Bayern’s success has been so great that even the prospect of a draw left onlookers confused. Surely they can’t not win? James Milner completed a great night for both the club and himself, taking advantage of another defensive misjudgement (Boateng’s second hashed attempt at a clearance) to seal three points in Munich for yet another English side (Arsenal last year, Chelsea in the final the year before that).
The game ended with a whimper as Bayern failed to regain their flair of the first half. Manchester City, their manager Manuel Pellegrini in particular, failed to realise that one more goal would have put them through as group winners (would have given them a stronger head-to-head goal difference on Bayern Munich based on goals scored).
“A defeat is never good, but maybe this one will help us realise how hard it is to win these games,” said Guardiola afterwards. Expectation remains and questions will be asked about concentration, despite Guardiola’s best attempts to suggest otherwise. But this defeat is a good thing for Bayern. That weight is gone. It’s no longer about breaking records or winning-streaks. It’s about winning. Tonight, that didn’t happen but the loss is not the issue. Addressing that will be the first port of call come training and the weekend. Hamburg are the visitors to Munich on Saturday. The last time they came here they lost 9-2. Expect a backlash of perhaps similar proportions.