CL Group A Recap: Villarreal v Bayern 0-2

A win that was never in danger according to most, although I as a fan felt differently during the match. One thing everybody can agree on is that Bayern deserved the 3 points, there’s no doubt about that. How the team benefitted from two injuries and more after the jump.

As usual, let’s start with the lineups. Before Bayern’s match against Freiburg I predicted rotation. That didn’t happen. Now I was sure that Heynckes would field his best XI in such an important match but, again, I was wrong. It was Anatoliy Tymoshchuk’s turn to play alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger and Daniel van Buyten replaced Rafinha. Villarreal’s lineup was a mystery due to Borja Valero being suspended and Joan Oriol surprisingly not being a part of the squad. Garrido opted for a 4-4-2 or 4-3-1-2, depending on your need for accuracy, with something resembling a diamond midfield. It was only resembling a diamond because the ‘playmaker’ wasn’t that offensive-minded, either, and the side midfielders often looked like central midfielders. The yellow midfield’s width wasn’t really greater than the one between Bayern’s two CMs. The aforementioned ‘playmaker’ (for lack of a better term) was Jonathan de Guzman, you might remember his brother, the former Hannover player Julian, who was a part of Villarreal’s starting lineup for the first time (he played about half an hour against Sevilla). If you wanna read another, more detailed analysis of the strategies and formations and the flaws those formations resulted in, Zonal Marking is the place to go.

Nothing’s better than an early goal and Bayern once again delivered. A brilliant, not to say world-class assist by Franck Ribery made it possible. To say that all Toni Kroos had to do is score an easy one would not be fair, it was a difficult shot to take but Kroos’ superb technique made it look easy. The host’s defense didn’t seem capable of stopping Bayern’s offensive bank of four (more and more developing into a bank of five with Schweinsteiger getting more involved each match). Attention, rare bold words: Only Bayern’s respect for the opponent’s great offense prevented the submarine from being run down, the full commitment to attacking that made the recent results possible was missing this time. For a reason. Despite a disappointing and unimaginative performance, the hosts still looked dangerous when using their unsuccessful panacea, long balls to Giuseppe Rossi. One mistake by a defender would’ve been enough to tie the game.

Earlier, I mentioned that Bayern benefitted from two injuries. If you paid attention, you might already know who I’m talking about. The first is the nagging, mysterious injury of Arjen Robben. As terrible as that is, it gave Toni Kroos the chance to finally wake up and prove why he’s one of Germany’s biggest talents. He’s on a very good way and yesterday’s performance was one of his best. The other injury happened on the (green, not yellow) pitch: Daniel van Buyten had to be subbed off after about 20 minutes. Injuries are never a good thing but this one helped the team a lot. Van Buyten struggled against the fast Rossi (Heynckes obviously was expecting an entirely different game plan from Garrido) while Jerome Boateng looked much more comfortable. It’s also no secret that Rafinha, the new right-back, is much better offensively than Jerome Boateng, something very useful against an opponent that lacked width.

Bayern could’ve, probably should’ve scored more goals in the first half and even more so early in the second half when Nils Petersen, who had to replace the injured Mario Gomez, couldn’t convert several huge scoring chances. Fortunately, Villarreal’s offense was unable to do anything of significance in the second half so the chance wasting didn’t backfire. When Rafinha scored a nice goal to make it 2-0, the match was decided. Important three points. Another convincing performance. Let’s continue that way.

Goals: 0-1 Kroos (7′), 0-2 Rafinha (76′)

Subs:

Villarreal CF: Cani (Senna, 46′), Marco Ruben (Nilmar, 58′), Javier Camunas (de Guzman, 72′)

FC Bayern: Rafinha (van Buyten, 22′), Nils Petersen (Gomez, 46′), Luiz Gustavo (Kroos, 81′)

Other Champions League matches:

Man City v Napoli 1-1 (Kolarov; Cavani)

Lille v CSKA 2-2 (Sow, Pedretti; Doumbia x2)

Inter v Trabzonspor 0-1 (Celustka)

FC Basel v Otelul Galati 2-1 (F. Frei, A. Frei; Pena)

Benfica v Man United 1-1 (Cardozo; Giggs)

Ajax v Lyonnais 0-0

Zagreb v Real Madrid 0-1 (di Maria)

Chelsea v Leverkusen 2-0 (David Luiz, Mata)

Genk v Valencia 0-0

Dortmund v Arsenal 1-1 (Perisic; van Persie)

Olympiakos v Marseille 0-1 (Lucho Gonzalez)

APOEL v Zenit 2-1 (Manduca, Ailton; Zyryanov)

Porto v Shakhtar 2-1 (Hulk, Kleber; Luiz Adriano)

Barcelona v AC Milan 2-2 (Pedro, Villa; Pato, Thiago Silva)

Plzen v BATE 1-1 (Bakos; Bressan)

Next match: Sunday at Schalke (Bundesliga), 5,30 pm

 

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