CL Qualification First Leg Recap: Bayern v Zürich 2-0

It wasn’t always beautiful, one team couldn’t and the other didn’t want to, but in the end it’s the result that counts. Bayern wins the crucial home match 2-0 against the harmless Swiss who need to score three goals or more at home next week.

As usual, let’s start with the lineups. Bayern finally with Ribery and Robben again, this meant that Jupp Heynckes had to decide for either Toni Kroos or Thomas Müller. Somewhat surprisingly, he chose the former. Aside from that, no surprises at all. Zürich’s coach Urs Fischer couldn’t surprise, either, although for a different reason. Injury troubles made almost every lineup within his usual 4-4-2 possible.

Bayern started the match in dominant fashion (the good one, not the possession-fixed thing). Zürich had the first chance when Chermiti’s header missed the goal but it was obvious from the beginning that there was only one proactive team tonight. Many things we’ve been asking for were to be seen: a faster vertical game, off-the-ball movement that went beyond the usual positions, penetration from central midfield and variety of attacks.

Fittingly it was an unusual assist that led to an early goal. Arjen Robben’s cross from the left (!) flank found Bastian Schweinsteiger’s head and gone was the pressure. They could’ve and should’ve continued to play like that to have this decided after one of the four halves but didn’t. The players looked reluctant, like they’re trying to rest for Saturday’s match against Hamburg. I’d love to tell you more about the first half but can’t really. Bayern had some more chances but couldn’t convert, Zürich was too afraid to even start a proper attack.

The FCB performance of the second half was a bit more focused yet still far from committed. Replacing Toni Kroos with Thomas Müller opened up the Zürich defense a bit but the few chances were again wasted until Mario Gomez went for the ball, passed it back to Arjen Robben who released a nice but definitely stoppable shot. Johnny Leoni, otherwise excellent, apparently didn’t think so, 2-0 Bayern.

Zürich’s offense? I had to double-check whether that actually existed. It did and was weak. I expect them to play a different kind of match at Letzigrund next Tuesday, they can’t focus on not conceding anymore. Mario Gomez deserved a penalty with only a few more minutes to be played but the ref who couldn’t convince in the second half said no. Mathieu Beda said the same to Franck Ribery minutes later but the Frenchman just wouldn’t listen so he had to grab his shirt. No doubt about that decision, the second yellow of the day for Beda who won’t play on Tuesday.

An important 2-0 win at home, 3 or 4 goals would’ve been more accurate though. Zürich has to improve a lot if they wanna make it to the group stage for the second time in club history. Bayern, again, with a rock-solid defense (it feels damn good to say that) and the offense showed promise that they not only know what to fix but actually can do it, at least the few times they could be bothered to give it everything. I’m fairly optimistic that, given time, the uninspired, slow, possession-centric, cautious offense will be a thing of the past sooner or later this season. Party on, Jupp.

Goals: 1-0 Schweinsteiger (8′), 2-0 Robben (72′)

Subs:

FC Bayern: Thomas Müller (Kroos, 57′)

FC Zürich: Adrian Nikci (Schönbächler, 55′), Oliver Buff (Barmettler, 67′), Josip Drmic (Chermiti, 84′)

Other Champions League Qualification matches:

København v Plzen 1-3 (Ottesen; Ottesen OG, Pilar, Fillo)

BATE v Sturm Graz 1-1 (Simic; Weber)

Twente v Benfica 2-2 (de Jong, Ruiz; Cardozo, Nolito)

Arsenal v Udinese 1-0 (Walcott)

Lyonnais v Rubin Kazan 3-1 (Gomis, Kvirkvelia OG, Briand; Dyadyun)

Wisla Krakow v APOEL 1-0 (Malecki)

Maccabi Haifa v Genk 2-1 (Amashe, Dvalishvili; Barda)

Dinamo Zagreb v Malmö 4-1 (Sammir x2, Rukavina, Beciraj; Mehmeti)

Odense BK v Villarreal 1-0 (Andreasen)

Next match: Saturday v Hamburg (Bundesliga), 3.30 pm local time

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