Bayern did what we all expected them to do which was go to Sevilla against the lesser team and get the result. It wasn’t as easy as many of us thought it would be, but it was job done and maybe they still have work to do unlike the Round of 16 where they were done with Besiktas after one leg, but they are well on their way to the semifinals.
1. Bayern has a tendency to sleepwalk through first legs on the road
Bayern’s slow start in the first leg on the road isn’t something new for them.
If you go back through the past few years you will see a trend. In 2015-16 they started on the road twice. They started at Juventus in the round of 16 getting a 2-2 draw before winning 6-4 on aggregate in what was the most dramatic tie of that seasons. In the semi finals they started at Atletico Madrid losing 1-0 in the first leg before ultimately winning the second leg 2-1 but losing by the road goals tiebreaker.
In 2014-2015 they drew in the round of 16 with Shakhtar 0-0 on the toad before winning 7-0 at home. In the quarterfinals they lost at Porto 3-1 on the road before beating them 6-1 at home on their way to a 7-4 aggregate win. In the semifinals that year they lost 3-0 at Barcelona in the first leg. Remember that, that was the game Messi murdered Boateng, but like against Atleti it was too much to overcome at home.
It seems like against the lesser teams they can overcome it, but when they face an equal or better team they aren’t able to fix the mess they created for themselves on the road, but this is a common trend and it’s also potentially a huge reason why they aren’t winning this competition.
It may have to do with the lack of competition they face in the Bundesliga and it is hard for them when the level of play goes up in Europe so when this is the first time since beating Arsenal in the first leg in 2013-2014 in the round of 16 that they have won a first leg tie on the road, its noticeable.
Even though they weren’t impressive in doing so today this may be a real good sign moving forward but that being said if they are to beat any of the other teams left they will have to be a lot better if they start out on the road in the first leg it may be over before they get home.
2. Sevilla was the better team in the first half
If you read #1 than this won’t be much of a surpise, but Sevilla was the better team in the first half. The game got chippy early with a questionable foul from Frank Ribery which at that moment I tweeted that this is Sevilla’s type of game. Sevilla likes playing in the mud, they don’t mind when the game is a little dirty, and you could tell by their play.
Shots were tied 4-4 at the half and Bayern dominated the possession which was the most predictable thing since it is going to rain in the Northeast in April, but what wasn’t predictable was that Sevilla was by far the much more dangerous side.
The danger came from their wingers Joaquin Correa and Pablo Sarabia, they attacked the Bayern fullbacks Joshua Kimmich and Juan Bernet. Correa attacked Bernet and Sarabia went after Kimmich to great success. In fact it was Sarabia who put Sevilla on the board giving them a 1-0 lead but minutes before that he missed a golden chance at the penalty spot which could have been a 2-0 lead for the home side.
Correa was noticeably a problem early in this game and looked to be a problem that Bayern was going to have a hard time dealing with.
Munich was lucky to get an equalizer on a Jesus Navas own goal deflecting home a Ribery cross, if not for this Munich would have faced a halftime deficit, in fact if Sevilla had a little luck or maybe Ever Banega they may have had a bigger lead at the break.
3. As predicted Sevilla would miss Banega
I just talked about the great play by Sarabia and Correa in the first half, if maybe they had Banega who can unlock anyone at anytime they may have won the game.
Banega’s replacement Guido Pizzaro did not have a good night and did not come close to duplicating the performance they have come to expect from Banega, in fact Sevilla dropped their #10 Franco Vazquez deeper than usual probably to help compensate for not having Banega.
Steven N’Zonzi was fine in his holding role but not having his normal midfield partner in Banega was a huge difference, they missed his ability to unlock the attack from his normal deep lying role and it had to frustrate after seeing how effective Correa and Sarabia were on the wings that they weren’t able to better take advantage.
4. Bayern changes
A couple moves by Bayern manager Jupp Henckes really shaped the way this game went. His force move was an injury that forced his hand when Arturo Vidal went with an injury.
When I saw their lineup today I was actually quite shocked Vidal was in there. I get it he’s the heart and soul of their team. Personally, I love Vidal. I love his reckless style, there a few players on this planet I enjoy watching more than Vidal, but he missed Saturdays game with an injury so I was really surprised to see him out there. I know few players are tougher than him but at the same time it was still a bit shocking.
Especially not having James Rodriguez out there. Rodriguez has been their best player to me this year. He finally looks to me on the club level like the player that we have seen play for Colombia. I get maybe Heynckes doesn’t want to play both him and Thiago Alcantara at the same time in midfield leaving the team a bit unbalanced and I think Alcantara is one of the best midfielder’s on the planet but James has been the key in midfield to unlock the attack all season, so when Heynckes had his hand forced when Vidal went down he had no choice to turn to James which I think helped Bayern immensely in the second half.
The other move was by choice and it was a no brainier. This was also another shocking decision by Heynckes for whatever reason he went with Juan Bernet at left back instead of Rafinha or even David Alaba who I think is their best option who he didn’t even dress for this match.
The move to Rafinha was necessary, as I said earlier that Sarabia was a real problem having space down the right side all half. In fact Bernet lost Sarabia on the goal and before that when Sarabia bottled a beautiful chance wide. Bernet was a shock starter who clearly was overwhelmed by the moment and was a mess the entire half. Bringing Rafinha in calmed things down for Munich and took away the advantage they had with Sarabia in the first half. This move was a huge move to get this win for Bayern.
5. Better to be lucky than good
I’m not saying Bayern didn’t deserve to come home with the lead for the second leg, but I’m not saying they do either. As I alluded to earlier they should have been facing a deficit at the half, but were level.
They also got the winner on a goal that was credited to Alcantara but that goal probably should have been an own goal as it wouldn’t have gone if not for the deflection from the Sevilla defender.
You also have to take into account that many of Bayern’s stars were invisible on this night. Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski were invisible. Frank Ribery had a great pass on the Alcantara winner and it was his cross that was finished for the own goal by Navas, so he had his moments but overall I didn’t think he was that great. Kimmich was not his usual self bombing up and down the right wing from his fullback position mostly because he was pinned back more than usual having his hands full dealing with Correa.
Then you add like I already went into detail about with how missed Banega was that a lot of good fortune has gone Bayern’s way. For anyone to win a competition like this you’re going to need some fortune to come your way at one point or another and Bayen has gotten it with the draw so far, Banega’s suspension, and the own goals. Maybe this is a sign that this is their year. They did settle down and were in control during the second half but this was not your typical Bayern win, this was quite the bumpy ride.
6. Man of the match
My man of the match in this one was Alcantara. He scored the winner and was by far their best player on the night. As we talked about earlier this was a game that was not your normal Bayern Munich performance where all their talent can be overwhelming, this was a game like I said where their stars were silenced. On most teams a guy like Alcantara missing the time he did would have been a loss that most teams would not have been able to overcome. But as we know this team is loaded unlike most teams. So it can be difficult to stand out on a team like this, but on a night like this it was easy to see his value. How great he can be on the ball and how efficient he is with his passing completing 56 of them at a 91.8% clip. Tonight is a great example why I think he’s one of the best midfielder’s on the planet.
7. Where does this leave us
I think the biggest thing here is that Sevilla is a totally different team on the road as they are at home minus the Manchester United trip. In the league they have 6 wins with 9 losses on the road in this competition they have 1 win (United) 2 losses and 1 draw so that is an overall 7 wins 11 losses and 1 draw.
Bayen on the other hand is almost unbeatable at home. In the league this year they are unbeaten with 12 wins and 2 draws and in this competition they have 4 wins in 4 matches so overall they have 15 wins with 2 draws on their home pitch.
You add that with their history of turning slow starts around with huge performances at home during second legs to turn around a poor road performance from the first leg I would expect a lot of the same during the second leg with a comfortable Munich win and a spot in the semis.