Two of Europe’s great heavyweights came head-to-head as Bayern Munich and Juventus clashed in a Champions League Quarter Final first leg in Germany.
Bayern set a marker down to their Champions League rivals by putting on a near-breathless show at the Allianz Arena.
A convincing 2-0 home victory has given the German champions-elect an enormous advantage heading into the second leg in Turin, and it was a triumph forged on the back of a number of excellent individual performances.
An early long-range strike from David Alaba managed to snake into the net past Gigi Buffon following a desperate deflection from a Juventus player. The veteran stopper had no such excuse later on, however, as he was at fault for Bayern’s second—Mario Mandzukic setting up Thomas Muller for a tap-in following the keeper’s parried attempted clearance.
This article profiles Bayern’s heroes, assessing their contribution to the side’s victory and grading their performances out of 10.
It was a largely stress-free first half for the German international.
He barely had a save to make in the first 45, although there was some unconvincing work from set pieces in the early going. He shored up as the contest progressed and demonstrated some of his qualities; including one particular stop, low down, from an Andrea Pirlo freekick.
He was particularly brave on occasion in the second half, specifically when Alessandro Matri hurtled towards goal and Neuer rose to see him off.
There was also a smart save from an Arturo Vidal strike in the second period.
He had a typically delightful performance, won a corner from Peluso on 24 minutes and was keen to get forward and support while never neglecting his defensive duties.
He marshalled the back line and appeared totally in control of the situation.
Although his influence waned in the second period, he continues to be an irreplaceable presence for Bayern.
Daniel Van Buyten
The giant Belgian centre-back had a typically resilient performance—imposing in the air in both boxes, as he rarely looked ill at ease against Juventus’s limited attacking movement.
He was unlucky not to have won a penalty after a tangle with Leonardo Bonucci.
Dante was keen to organise the defence and gave Alaba a telling off following an early lapse. He looked authoritative throughout.
A bold aerial presence, he protected his own goal admirably while also posing a threat for set-pieces in Buffon’s box.
He contented competently with the movement of Juventus’s forwards, further evidence that the late bloomer truly belongs at this level of competition.
An impressive showing by the young Austrian, he scored with a speculative 35-yarder to open the scoring in less than 30 seconds—his finish being the seventh-fastest goal in Champions League history.
He demonstrated his desire to have a pop from long-range throughout the contest, notably one particularly testing second-half freekick.
His play from left-back was consistently impressive—the youngster evidenced all of the tools needed to thrive in the position: bursting forward, showing strength, linking up well with Ribery and troubling the likes of Arturo Vidal throughout the bout.
Add speed and work rate to the mix, and Alaba truly begins to look like one of the most exciting young stars around.
A composed performance in the middle, his most notable contributions were perhaps his attempts on goal.
There were several examples of testing long-range shooting, many of which didn’t quite get the connection they deserved. One particular example came just before halftime, as the German international slipped mid-shot, seeing his attempt fly harmlessly over the bar.
He used the ball intelligently and assuredly, assisting Alaba for the early opener.
This was a solid showing from the Brazilian midfielder who was selected to replace the suspended Javi Martinez in the heart of the Bayern midfield and charged with spoiling Juventus’s rhythm.
Some speculative long-range shooting was fairly disappointing, but there was evidence of a fantastic passing range—particularly soon after the break, when an incisive pass set Mandzukic through on goal.
He had a direct role in Bayern’s second goal, as another 30-yard attempt was only smuggled away by Buffon, giving Mandzukic ample opportunity to set up Thomas Muller for a tap-in.
Muller began the contest on the right flank, but following Kroos’s unfortunate injury, he was moved to a central spot as Robben moved to the wing.
He appeared to thrive in this position, behind Mario Mandukic, and demonstrated his footballing intelligence and his impressive technical prowess.
He managed to shake off his markers soon after the half-hour mark to set-up Robben, only to watch on as the Dutchman sent his finish wide.
Juventus tightened up, affording him less space, but were unable to prevent him from scoring his side’s second of the night—a simple tap-in following a Mandzukic pull-back and an error from Buffon.
He had a great chance to score a third for Bayern late-on, but the experienced Buffon managed to pull a decent save out of the bag to at least give the Old Lady a smidgen of hope.
An early injury meant that we never got to see Kroos’s "re-match" against Pirlo, the Italian having outclassed him at the Euros.
His early substitution was hugely disappointing for Bayern, who will hope that the young German international won’t be out for too long.
It was an enjoyable performance from the French maestro, who looked bright, lively and inventive throughout.
Ribery demonstrated his near-flawless deliveries and crafted several delightful chances for his teammates—one of which, on 37 minutes, should have been rewarded with a penalty as Giorgio Chiellini brought down Mandzukic.
He received some intense attention from Arturo Vidal, who was a niggling presence throughout.
He also had a decent chance on 20 minutes, but perhaps he shot too suddenly, as his shot went wide of the post.
Mandzukic is emblematic of Bayern’s relentless pressing. He worked hard all evening to keep the pressure on Juventus, demonstrated awesome endeavour to win the ball and was a particular menace for Andrea Barzagli, who at times struggled to cope with the attention.
He was the victim of some Chiellini physicality before half time, with the goal beckoning, but referee Mark Clattenburg was adamant that there had been no foul—despite the Croatian’s protestations to the contrary.
At times, Mandzukic’s closing down was perhaps a little too eager, and he was booked for a clumsy late tackle on Vidal. Persistent infringements characterised his evening, but it served to place Juventus under duress and break up the rhythm of their game.
Where will Bayern finish in this year's Champions League?
He demonstrated great composure to set up Muller for Bayern’s crucial second and earned a standing ovation as he was replaced late on.
A terrific performance by a forward at the top of his game, with both exceptional work rate and excellent offensive contributions.
Robben demonstrated some excellent reflexes when receiving the ball soon after coming on. An excellent touch was unfortunately not matched by a competent finish, and Buffon was able to block.
Soon after the half-hour mark, he was played in after some excellent work by Thomas Muller. You perhaps would have bet on him to score, but despite finding the ball on his favoured left foot, he sidefooted wide of the post.
He began to seek redemption following this miss, often at the expense of his teammates as he resorted to his favoured practice of cutting in from the right flank and shooting with his left—much to the relief of Buffon.
There were some characteristic sparks of activity down the flank, often beating a man or two before losing possession or struggling to get the ball to the feet of a teammate.
Shaqiri made a late appearance, with the game already into its dying seconds.
Gomez replaced the indefatigable Mandzukic late on, but didn’t have time enough to make an impact.