CL Group A Recap: Bayern v Villarreal 3-1

Game, set and match. Bayern turned out to be the poison dart frog of this feared group of death. An easy albeit not always relaxing win is more than enough to not only qualify for the round of 16 but to do so as group winner (greetings to Campania). Who was the Schweinsteiger replacement this time? Continue reading to find out.

Let’s get that question out of the way. On paper, it was David Alaba. In reality, it was a bit of everything with Toni Kroos being the producer.

Wait, Kroos and Alaba played? Exactly. Thomas Müller was benched.

I’ll just give you a minute to look for the right buttons so that you can print this. Red-letter day.

Got it? Fine. As I just said, Thomas Müller didn’t start. Nor did Luiz Gustavo, not really a surprise, nor did Holger Badstuber, even less of a surprise, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and Daniel van Buyten replaced the two.

Villarreal’s lineup wasn’t a shock, simply because any starting eleven was possible. Should’ve warned us that there’s a yellow hospital coming to Munich…anyway, the formation was kind of a 4-4-2.

3-4-2, to be exact. Carlos Marchena was a walking disaster (something I very much enjoyed but my personal dislikes don’t belong here). Not even three minutes were played when he decided to check if Toni Kroos really is the delicacy Jupp Heynckes praised. There apparently wasn’t any better way to find out than to simply give him the ball. Kroos said thanks, played a brilliant pass to Franck Ribery who beat Diego Lopez with a shot technique that, if I tried this, would cause both of my ankles to break.

Speaking of Ribery – the Frenchman wasn’t the perfectly portioned delicacy Kroos embodies, no, he was the stew your grandmother made two days ago. You know the taste but just can’t stop. Something, you’re not sure what it is, makes every bit special and unique. In other, less lunatic words, he was brilliant and all over the pitch.

Mario Gomez scored a goal. This sentence won’t make anyone look for a printer. The reason why I’m mentioning this, aside from the fact that this is a recap after all, is the subtle positioning. Tymoshchuk fires a long-range shot, everybody stops moving to stare. Everybody but Gomez. Perfect timing and just the right amount of luck, he converted the rebound that 9 out of 10 Champions League forwards wouldn’t even think of.

Villarreal scored a goal but there’s not much to say about that. Toni Kroos wanted to give the ball to Arjen Robben, the pass lacked final accuracy which itself isn’t a big deal. The problem was that Rafinha, almost understandably, expected Kroos to deliver a spot-on ball so he fully committed to offense, sprinting forward to support Robben. This lead to the defense being shifted due to the lack of a right-back. It was still anything but impossible to stop the attack, they couldn’t, Villarreal was back in business.

Or not. What happened was just as disappointing as the pre-goal performance. Ribery’s second goal of the night *insert cheesy joke about a sinking submarine*.

Back to the Schweinsteiger question: Toni Kroos pulled the strings as a central offensive midfielder between the lines, his natural habitat, while Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and David Alaba focused on creating spaces and simple ball distribution. The Alaba-Kroos combination might be the perfect hybrid of pass accuracy, mobility, support and willingness to take risks. That would be bad news for Thomas Müller. But we all know that this man will find some way to stay a part of the starting lineup. A Müller can not be defeated.


  • 1-0 Ribery (3′)
  • 2-0 Gomez (24′)
  • 2-1 de Guzman (50′)
  • 3-1 Ribery (69′)


  • FC Bayern:
    • Thomas Müller (Gomez, 72′)
    • Ivica Olic (Robben, 76′)
    • Danijel Pranjic (Ribery, 81′)
  • Villarreal:
    • Wakaso Mubarak (de Guzman, 63′)
    • Marcos Senna (Angel, 70′)
    • Joselu (Valero, 78′)

Team stats (Bayern-Villarreal):

  • Ball possession: 66% – 34%
  • Shots taken: 20 – 8
  • Corner kicks: 5 – 5
  • Fouls committed: 10 – 13

Leading player stats (Bayern-Villarreal):

  • Shots taken: Franck Ribery (6) – Hernan Perez (2)
  • Fouls committed: David Alaba (3) – Angel Lopez (5)

Other Champions League matches:

  • Napoli v Man City 2-1 (Cavani x2; Balotelli)
  • CSKA v Lille 0-2 (V. Berezutski OG, Sow)
  • Trabzonspor v Inter 1-1 (Altintop; Alvarez)
  • Galati v Basel 2-3 (Giurgiu, Antal; F. Frei, A. Frei, Streller)
  • Man United v Benfica 2-2 (Berbatov, Fletcher; Jones OG, Aimar)
  • Lyonnais v Ajax 0-0
  • Real Madrid v Zagreb 6-2 (Benzema x2, Callejon x2, Higuain, Özil; Beciraj, Tomecak)
  • Leverkusen v Chelsea
  • Valencia v Genk
  • Arsenal v Dortmund
  • Marseille v Olympiakos
  • Zenit v APOEL
  • Shakhtar v Porto
  • BATE v Plzen
  • Milan v Barca

Next match: Sunday at Mainz (Bundesliga), 5.30 pm

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