Bayern Munich endured a shock Manchester United lead in the second half but turned the game on its head as the Bavarians ran out 3-1 winners at the Allianz Arena. Patrice Evra gave United the lead with a thunderous effort but Mario Mandzukic restored parity seconds later. Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben then wrapped the proceedings with ease as Pep Guardiola’s men booked their spot in the semi finals. Here are the five key observations from the Allianz Arena.
Manchester United failed to endure throughout its entire course: David Moyes set his side like the first leg from Old Trafford, a rigid defense to soak pressure and hit the Bavarians on the counter. United had a very disciplined first half as Bayern didn’t even manage a shot on goal despite having a lion’s share of possession. It was a valiant effort from the United back line but as their players grew leggy from chasing shadows, and dropped deep, Robben and Ribery weaved their magic to run havoc.
Philipp Lahm’s versatility is beyond words: Bayern started out in their favourite 4-3-3 formation but it was quite confusing to understand what roles had Alaba and Lahm been assigned. Both the full backs became extra central midfielders in what was an unsymmetrical formation.
Never seen anything like the system Bayern using. Both FBs becoming extra central midfielders. Not sure it’s helping, but it’s interesting.
— Michael Cox (@Zonal_Marking) April 9, 2014
In possession Lahm had a greater share of running in the middle of the pitch like Alaba and while they were off the ball, they went back to their full back role. Long back in 1930’s we had the 2-3-5 system but Guardiola’s thinking behind such a tactical switch didn’t have a lot to deal with ball retention as Lahm played in such a direct role rather than aid possession. (shown by Lahm’s action area). Who knows after the false nine, the false full backs actually playing in central midfield might be a new tactical switch in the future.
Pep Guardiola’s tactical astuteness has the Bielsista influence: Not long ago in the summer of 2012, Guardiola hailed then Athletic Bilbao manager Marcelo Bielsa as the best in the World. As described by Jonathan Wilson had written, that the use of a central midfielder in the Bielsa prism was to initiate attacks from the back and the desire to win battles high up the pitch in opposition territory. Bayern’s unsymmetrical approach against United clearly demonstrated Guardiola’s thinking approach. Bringing Rafinha on for Mario Gotze, enabling Lahm to play the holding anchor role gave his side the lead.
Rafinha drafted inside to make space for Robben on the wide area whose cut back was finished off with great aplomb by Muller.
Arjen Robben weaves his magic once again: The Dutchman’s stats on the night was nothing short of staggering. He had 101 Touches with 87% Pass Accuracy, 9 Dribbles, scored a goal and grabbed an assist.
Robben’s relentless cutbacks, weaving his magical hazy runs, popping time and again on the ring wing was an absolute exhibition. His goal was much due to his delightful run from the wing, cutting past the defenders before a low drive finish past the hapless De Gea. As the Dutchman summed it up after the final, “We only have one goal. We want to go to Lisbon.”
What next for David Moyes: The Manchester United manager will now have to take a long and arduous flight back to Manchester. United are currently seventh in the EPL table and Champions League football look bleak, trailing Everton by six points, who also have a game in hand. “As a schoolboy you’re told to not concede straight away after scoring and we conceded too quickly,” was how the 50 year old Scot summed up the match.
The Bavarians excelled when the pressure was the boiling point, as United crumbled. the Red Devils can only get better next season. Playing a half fit Rooney though, wasn’t a good decison, yet was there any other option for Moyes?