Was there really any way we could have lost that? Against Marseille, Bayern had a two goal advantage, wore shirts so red that the House un-American Activities Committee would probably blacklist them, and only needed a draw against a team that has failed to win any of their last 29843093 games. No doubt taking all this into consideration, Heynckes deemed it a formality to send out an understrength team, resting players such as Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben in anticipation of the weekend’s title deciding blockbuster against, err, Augsburg. In a rare twist of fate’s fickle head, Bayern delivered an entirely expected, if somewhat underwhelming triumph with a paucity of controversy and precious little to report.
In the fragile dawn of the match, Bayern dominated possession, spreading play across Marseille’s midfield like butter on toast. In the seventh minute of play, Franck “Scheiss” Ribery delivered a splendid pass to the feet of Toni Kroos, scenically located in the area, but a goal was not to be, as the illustrious brother of Felix rifled the ball above Steve Mandanda’s goal and into the stratosphere. A renewed Marseille took this as an Ali Ibn Muhammad-esque signal to take up the offensive, and twice came close to opening the scoring, the first chance a low Loic Remy drive straight into Neuer’s hands, and the second a fluid set of movements resulting in five Marseille players outnumbering their Bavarian counterparts in the box, an enviable position which, in the true Borodino spirit, the ill-fated white shirts bottled, nervily spilling the ball right into Manuel Neuer’s arms. This handy capitulation led Bayern to advance forth on a counterattack, ultimately resulting in a lovely Franck Ribery through ball to Ivica Olic, who stunned the world by converting an easy chance to make it 1-0 for Bayern.
The circumstances leading up to Olic’s goal set the pace for the rest of the evening. Time and time again Marseille would skilfully craft a gem of a play, and time and time again Loic Remy would pass it into Neuer’s arms, instigating a sublime Bayern counterattack, eventually finished off by a shot as high and volatile as
Neven Subotic after one of Mario Goetze’s weekly acid tests from any one of the rotating cast of Olic, Ribery, and Kroos. Occasionally, this pattern would be broken, with Mathieu Valbuena’s high, swooping volley brilliantly parried by Neuer, a magnificent ping-pong rally of shots between Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, Toni Kroos, Thomas Mueller, and Steve Mandanda, but these moments of brilliance were few and far between, like a solitary asterisk stranded in an ocean of tildes.
In the 37th minute, Bayern would double their lead, again through Olic, again from a counterattack, again with the final pass a through ball. A minute later, Heynckes, seeing victory imminent, would substitute Mueller for Rafinha. Little would happen for the remaining eight minutes of the half, though Mathieu Valbuena seemed to tragically perish on the 45 minute mark after taking an invisible bullet from an invisible gunman high in the echelons of the Allianz Arena crowd. May his soul rest in peace.
The second half opened like a typical gasoline and fireworks barbecue (Very popular with Michael Preetz), shots flying everywhere and Marseille players screaming in terror on the ground. Among all the chaos, Franck Ribery creeped up to the Marseille goal unnoticed and so very nearly spirited the ball through Steve Mandanda’s legs. From this point on, Didier Deschamps men channelled their inner stereotypical Frenchmen and gave up. For the next twenty minutes, Bayern tore through the Provençals like scissors tear through paper, shooting for fun and even letting Luiz Gustavo touch the ball. Even Jupp Heynckes entered into this carefree spirit, substituting Toni Kroos for Danijel Pranjic in the 66th minute. However, this brave new world would be brought to a halt by a magnificent header chance for Brandao, who produced a carbon copy of Mame Diouf’s disastrous gaffe for Hannover on the very spot the Senegalese international first ballooned the ball over the bar, wearing the exact same colour as Brandao. At this point, Heynckes’ charges seemed to admit that the match was done and dusted, and both sets of players dug out fleches and settled in for the winter. By the time everyone woke up twenty minutes later, the match had finished 2-0 and Bayern had booked their place in the semifinal, where the Bavarians will face either Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid or semi-obscure five piece J-Pop group APOEL.
- 1-0 Olic (13′)
- 2-0 Olic (37′)
- FC Bayern:
- Rafinha (Müller, 39′)
- Danijel Pranjic (Kroos, 67′)
- Mario Gomez (Olic, 75′)
- Morgan Amalfitano (Morel, 45′)
- Charles Kabore (Remy, 63′)
- Andre-Pierre Gignac (Brandao, 74′)
Team stats (Bayern-Marseille):
- Ball possession: 50% – 50%
- Shots taken: 17 – 9
- Corner kicks: 9 – 2
- Fouls committed: 8 – 10
Leading player stats (Bayern-Marseille):
- Shots taken: Ivica Olic (5) – Stephane M’Bia (3)
- Fouls committed: Franck Ribery (2) – Stephane M’Bia (4)
Next match: Saturday v Augsburg (Bundesliga), 3.30 pm