Champions League Inter Milan 0-1 FC Bayern Munich: 10 Observations and Thoughts
A game which ebbed and flowed and saw a tonne of chances go begging saw Bayern come away with a victory thanks to an 89th minute strike from Mario Gomez.
My Thoughts and Observations
1) Thomas Kraft might just have a real future in Munich. He has done very well since taking over from beloved veteran Hans-Joerg Butt—and last night, the world saw what he is capable of.
He kept Bayern in the game by making some superb stops against Samuel Eto'o and making sure that Inter couldn't get past him. At times, when Inter attacked, it seemed like the match was between just their attackers and Thomas Kraft.
2) Has a single Champions League game gone by in which Arjen Robben has not been the decisive factor for Bayern? Gomez might have scored the goal—however, it was Robben who brought Inter's defence to their knees.
He troubled their back-line constantly and it was his powerful strike that eventually left Julio Cesar spilling the ball for Mario Gomez to tap in.
3) Luis Gustavo put in a superb performance. Since his move to Bayern, he's featured mainly as a left-back. Last night, however, he revelled in a defensive midfield role alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Did Bayern deserve to win the game?
Gustavo put in plenty of tackles to prevent Inter from breaking and worked tirelessly at the back throughout the match, putting in a potential 'man of the match' performance.
4) Mario Gomez was a very lucky man last night. He missed countless chances for Bayern that Ivica Olic or Miroslav Klose would have easily buried.
Gomez is easily Bayern's main goal scorer this season, but he cannot afford to miss sitters at this stage. He was very lucky to get a great chance in the 89th minute. That being said, a striker's job is to be at the right place at the right time and that's where he was. Also, he stayed onside. (We all remember what happened last year against Fiorentina in the first leg!)
5) Louis Van Gaal enjoys playing players out of position. Hardly anybody is in favour of that but I don't think too many of the fans would complain if he continued to play Holger Badstuber at left-back.
Badstuber has recently put in some poor performances at the heart of the defence. Last night, on the left, he played very well and made sure that Maicon had very few chances to trouble Thomas Kraft and Bayern's central defence.
6) Bayern were fortunate to have won. Despite the fact they had 55 percent of the possession and hit the post twice, Inter had them on the back-foot for much of the match, especially towards the closing stages.
Who will win the tie?
Esteban Cambiasso missed a great chance from close range with Kraft beaten. Samuel Eto'o tore through the Bayern defence at times but was denied by Kraft.
7) A special mention needs to go out to perhaps the best full-back in the world and Bayern captain, Philipp Lahm. He rarely allowed any Inter attacks down his flank and managed to himself attack all night. His movement and passes were fantastic.
Arjen Robben can always run at other defences because he knows that Bayern won't get caught out at the back thanks to Lahm playing behind him.
8) Franck Ribery and Thomas Muller had mixed nights. The two worked very hard and kept Bayern's attacks going, but Ribery lost the ball a few times and Muller missed a great chance.
If Bayern hadn't scored the away goal, Louis van Gaal would have perhaps blamed Thomas Muller again for missing a crucial chance against Inter. Unfortunately, the first time he did so was in last season's CL final.
9) When Van Gaal spoke last night before the match, his interview made me think that he had lost his mind. He said that there was nothing wrong with the Bayern defence and that the statistics proved that.
It seems someone needs to remind him that clean sheets have come few and far between for Bayern of late. Last night, they were lucky not to concede. Van Gaal needs to understand that the centre of defence does need to improve.
10) All in all, Bayern put in a good performance. But despite having the edge from here, the tie is certainly not over yet. After all, if Koln could put three past Bayern, Inter can do so as well.
Bayern can't afford to be overconfident in the second leg and have to play the game at the Allianz Arena just like they did at the San Siro last night. Bayern will go through if there is a stalemate at the Arena.
I would like to hear your thoughts on the game. Please don't hesitate to share your views as we await the second leg in March.
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