UEFA Super Cup 2013: Chelsea Expose Bayern Munich's Frailties
Two things Chelsea taught the world of football in the 2013 Super Cup: Bayern Munich are suspect defensively when stretched and struggle from set-pieces.
The Germans beat Chelsea on penalties but came close to succumbing to the Europa League champions. Only a dramatic extra-time goal from Javi Martinez secured a 2-2 draw, forcing the match to go the distance.
Jose Mourinho hints at Uefa conspiracy and says 'the best team lost and the ref is to blame' http://t.co/06J4OiSj9t— Telegraph Sport (@TelegraphSport) August 30, 2013
Bayern’s pressing game is really effective when it works as they quickly regain possession, often in dangerous positions, but when Chelsea slipped through their ranks cracks were exposed.
The Germans were all over the place, racing back towards their own goal, as Eden Hazard held off countless challenges to weave through their midfield.
The damage was already done by the time Fernando Torres turned in Andre Schurrle’s cross for the opening goal as Bayern’s defenders were too busy getting back in position and watching the ball that no one tracked the Spaniard’s run.
Torres worked a couple of chances and was a constant threat to the Bayern defence, particularly Dante who he turned with ease at times. Although one solid performance doesn’t signal a return to his Liverpool form, it was a sign that perhaps Chelsea can extract the talent from him after all.
Hazard also highlighted how Bayern can be opened up if space can be found. In extra-time he got free on the left and, helped by some pretty limp attempts to tackle him, fired through Manuel Neuer.
In Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, Bayern possess two of Europe’s most dangerous wingers but also two players who will often neglect their defensive duties. When Hazard found himself one-on-one with the covering defender he teased his way past—something that will alarm Pep Guardiola.
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Set-pieces were another thorn in Bayern's side.
Frank Lampard’s excellent deliveries caused confusion in their defence all night as Branislav Ivanovic smashed a header against the crossbar and David Luiz forced Neuer into a fine low stop.
Tight contests are often settled by set-pieces but no one in a red shirt took command of the situation. If they want to retain their haul of trophies of last season they will have to find a better way of dealing with free-kicks and corners.
Whilst Chelsea didn’t fare better—Bayern’s late leveller came from a free-kick—the Champions League holders appeared to lack communication at the back as Neuer and those in front struggled to contain the Blues' physical threat.
Bayern peppered the Chelsea goal and were often thwarted by cynical challenges that stemmed their attacks. Ramires’ dismissal was compounded by six further bookings as the Blues prevented them getting into their stride.
And although it wasn't a vintage performance on par with last season’s double-legged Champions League demolition of Barcelona, they still won the Super Cup and showed their winning mentality by equalising with the last kick in extra time.
If Guardiola can iron out the problems highlighted by his adversary Jose Mourinho, they could yet launch another treble challenge.
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