FC Bayern Munich took a big step towards advancing from the Champions League group stage today, beating Lille OSC by a 1-0 score. Thomas Müller had the only goal of the match, converting a penalty after Philipp Lahm draw a foul in the box.
First of all, it was frustrating (and a little disgusting) to watch Lille go out and hack, grab, and kick Bayern players at every opportunity. Les Dogues clearly had the game-plan to pull and kick as much as they could, with the hopes that the officials would be hesitant to call foul after foul on the home side. And their faith was justified, as (in my opinion) the officials really lost control of the match.
On some level, it's easy to understand what Lille was thinking: against a high-octane offense and with some of their own best players out due to injury, they felt like their best chance was to slow the match down and turn it into a brawl. If it's the fault of anyone, it's the referee, for not recognizing the situation early and handing out 2 or more yellows to Lille within the first 20 minutes. Sidibe and Beria were especially blatant, with Ribery getting tugged and tripped anytime he tried to make a move on the ball.
Having said that, this still wasn't a vintage performance from Bayern. We certainly did enough to win, and I'd guess that most of the stats were in our favor (corners, possession, passing). But we still get bogged down in the final third too easily. Some of that was surely down to the slow pitch and to Lille's rough-house tactics. But we need more incisive passing, better link-up play between FBs and wings, and more urgency in turning won balls into threatening positions.
Despite the goal, Müller didn't have a great match. He turned the ball over with a bad touch late in the first half, and in the second half, tried to slide into a cross and just missed it (he ended up kneeing it with his off foot, but he was clearly trying to catch it with his lead/right foot, and just whiffed). Ribery did OK when he was on, especially considering the beating he took, but he needs to trust his teammates a bit more and not always try to fight through 2 or 3 defenders. I'll have to go back and look at my notes, but off the top of my head, Lahm, Dante, and Boateng all played the best. Dante had one time when he was a little late getting back, but other than that defended well and didn't give up any space to Lille's attack. Lahm was pure class, and we really need to keep him in that RB spot (especially now that Alaba is back).
Anyway, here's your goal:
I can't find footage of Lahm's run to earn the penalty, but I'll keep looking. Meanwhile, Valencia beat BATE decisively, leaving a three-way tie atop the group standings. Bayern's current goal differential is not great (I think it's zero?), but if we win out, we're guaranteed to advance. In fact, I think 2 wins and 1 draw would be enough.
Back with more later, obviously. Any interest in a Match Day Thread for tomorrow's action? Two German sides are active, both in pretty big matches. Let me know what you think.
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Found some footage of Lille OSC's back line: