Napoli- 1-1 FC Bayern: Thoughts and Observations from the Match
A fan described this match as being 'Bayern vs Bayern'. No other description of this match can be more truthful. Bayern scored both goals, Bayern missed a penalty and somehow Napoli got a point out of it. Napoli gave Bayern the occasional trouble but Bayern dominated for the most part and deserved to win.
Bayern's profligacy in front of goal is no secret. The Van Gaal era was partly defined by it. Jupp Heynckes seems to have steadied the ship. While Bayern tend to take their chances early on, they usually fail to take the ones later on, a time by which they are a goal or two up. Against Villarreal, Bayern missed a whole host of chances and even against Manchester City they missed a few great ones in the second half even though that can also be put down partly to Joe Hart's brilliance.
Toni Kroos might not have a goal in the Bundesliga or the German Cup this season. However, he has two very important ones in the Champions League. The second came last night when he scored with only 98 or so seconds on the clock leaving Walter Mazzari and his crew in serious trouble. While Bayern did partly take their foot off the gas, they did create a whole host of chances which they wasted.
And finally, for once this season, they paid for it albeit in a surprising fashion. Christian Maggio, one of Napoli's better players on the night, played a ball into the box. Holger Badstuber misjudged it and put it past his own keeper. Manuel Neuer's clean sheet run in all competitions came to an end after 1147 spectacular minutes of play. Also, for once after the opening day, Bayern was actually somewhat rattled.
They got their heads together and took the second half by storm. A Paolo Cannavaro handball resulted in a penalty for Bayern, Mario Gomez, the usual penalty taker, stepped up but unfortunately hit more of a pass than a shot. A laser was directed at him from the crowd but he did not use that as an excuse and acknowledged his mistake. Gomez already has 14 goals to his name this season- he had a poor night but one can be sure that he will have much better ones.
Should Bayern have won the match?
Also, the penalty miss somewhat provided justice to Napoli who should have had one in the first half for a much more blatant handball inside the penalty area than the Cannavaro one by Bastian Schweinsteiger. Only Marek Hamsik had seen it and thus the claim had gone unnoticed. The referee booked both Bastian and Cannavaro in the first half for some fiddling in the penalty area when Salvatore Aronica should have gotten booked for his antics, or play acting, or whatever you like to call it.
Many questioned Jupp Heynckes' decision to stick with Daniel Van Buyten and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk including me. Apparently, according to the coach himself, Rafinha was injured not too long ago while Luis Gustavo had just come back from a long trip due to international duty. Thus, he decided to let these two rest and went with the same eleven that had thrashed Hertha recently.
Cannavaro, in my view, was superb on the night in certain situations. The yellow card sees him suspended for the match in Munich in a fortnight's time when Bayern should be understandably confident of taking all three points. But, if they miss that many chances as they did at the San Paolo, we could be looking at a 0-0, if not another 1-1 draw. Cannavaro might be missed badly in the second leg.
Ezequiel Lavezzi caused Bayern some trouble but generally was kept quiet and the same goes for Edinson Cavani. Maggio caused Bayern the most trouble on the night and blew past Philipp Lahm for his side's goal. He will be one player Bayern will have to keep track of in Munich. For Bayern, Bastian Schweinsteiger was quite brilliant and Kroos was great at times. Thomas Mueller and Franck Ribery didn't have the best of nights. Ribery looked tired after featuring in countless matches in the past three months.
So, there you have it- the game was entertaining and Neuer's clean sheet record was broken by a Bayern player. Let's hope Bayern convert their chances better next time around.
Finally, some Bayern fans were stabbed in Napoli but thankfully came away with minor injuries. These things must change about Italian football. The incident was disgraceful and somewhat marred the pre-match build up. Napoli fans at-least can expect a much safer and better welcome in Munich.
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