Easter Monday football was awesome, but Tuesday was even better with Champions League action where we had Sevilla FC going head to head with Bayern Munich. Sevilla put up a spirited fight against Bayern Munich in their first leg of their quarter-final Champions League draw. I am a Bayern Munich fan, and I take every opportunity I get to watch them play (Germany is my favorite footballing nation as you might have gathered from this article that I wrote). However, we (glorious Bayern fans) did not expect the kind of zeal the underdogs were bringing into this match. Sevilla did not give Bayern much space to control the ball, which is usually the latter team’s modus operandi.
From the get-go, Sevilla were in control of the game much to my surprise. They had some really impressive counters, and their speed was incredible. Their performance in that first half was why they deserved to score the first goal. I almost bit my tongue when Sarabia struck a powerful ball with his left to open the scoreline for the visitors. He had had an obvious opportunity a few minutes earlier but he missed. Luckily, he redeemed himself with his second attempt at goal.
It felt like Sevilla wouldn’t stop coming against Bayern, and I was beginning to think Sevilla might take the match (much to my dismay). Those feelings quickly evaporated once James Rodriguez got into the mix. Vidal had to come out of the game due to an injury, and Rodriguez was his replacement. Minutes into James’ entry into the game, and Bayern’s attitude changed, I could feel it. And, clearly, they could feel it too, because immediately after he came in there was a Bayern goal. A long pass from Bayern’s left wing (Ribery?) deflected off Navas, and went into the net, and we (glorious Bayern fans) all breathed a sigh of relief.
That left wing for Bayern Munchen is the epicenter of their attack. It was quite clear that much of their shots towards goal came from here, especially when Rafinha came in for Bernat. Rafinha showed more confidence in feeding Ribery on the left-wing from the mid-field than his predecessor, Bernat.
Thiago’s goal, Bayern’s second for the night, was also as a result of a decisive long ball towards goal from the home team’s left wing. Thiago caught on to Ribery’s long ball and headed it in into the back of the net. There were suggestions (mainly from one of the commentators) that the goal was as a result of Thiago’s header deflecting from the visitors’ captain, and thus, it should be considered an own-goal (Sevilla’s second of the match). It seemed that everyone ignored this sentiment and Thiago was credited with the goal.
It almost became automatic that the left-wing was where the ball towards goal would come from for the home side. If only Sevilla had taken notice of this and covered Ribery more fiercely especially in the second half. If they could just intersect the passes from Rafinha towards Ribery, they would be able to build up stronger counter attacks that emanated deep within their own half. If only! (Luckily, they did not, otherwise, I would be a sorely disappointed but still glorious Bayern fan).
And Heynckes as well as his men need to know this kind of predictability can harm their attack in the upcoming games in the CL, especially if they beat Sevilla next week and progress in the tournament (be careful, guys!!!!).
Bayern won the match, but credit to Sevilla for putting their best foot forward, and performing much better than people (glorious Bayern fans) would have expected. There is really not much hope for Sevilla after this in the Champions League, but the tide could turn next week.
Let’s wait and see.
PS: If you missed my comments after the match, you can catch them on youtube here.