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Match Day Thread: FC Bayern vs. Barcelona (UPDATED again)

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For the 2011 Audi Cup. Both clubs won in penalty shoot-outs yesterday. Barcelona couldn’t finish off a hard-fighting Internacional side and went to the kicks after a 2-2 draw, while Bayern dominated possession but was held to a 1-1 draw against a cautious AC Milan side.

Barca is without Messi and several other South American stars, but still have a very dangerous line-up. In yesterday’s match, Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Victor Valdes started, and David Villa and a few of their other stars came in as subs. The regular Barca starters who were on the bench but did not get in at all yesterday (and who therefore might be expected to get a lot of action today) include Xavi, Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol. So throw away any idea that this might be a "B team" match-up: Barca wants to win, and some of their best players are likely to be on the pitch.

On the FC Bayern side, Ribery is out with an ankle injury and Robben picked up an ankle knock of his own yesterday.  ESPN’s Soccernet quotes Robben as saying the injury is “not so bad,” while Fox News Latino predicts he will miss our first round Pokal game this coming week.  So those two are definitely out.  We fielded a pretty complete side yesterday, so don’t be surprised to see our bench get cleared out today.  Still, these are guys we are going to be expecting a lot of good contributions from this season - Usami, Contento, Gustavo, Petersen, and of course Olic - so Bayern will also be gunning for a win.

Both the third place match (starting at 6:15 München time, 12:15 Eastern USA time) and the final (8:45 / 2:45) will be on Fox Soccer Channel again.  I would love to see Bayern get a win and take some confidence into the season, but honestly I’m just really, really excited that soccer is starting again.  The off-season is fun, with all the transfer rumors and churn, and every team’s fans convincing themselves this is the year, but it felt great yesterday to slide up to the bar, order a pint, and watch Bayern take the field in our new black gear. 

Some meta notes:

- I won’t be able to do much of a running commentary, but if anything huge happens I will try to explain in the comments, for those who can’t watch.

- As soon as the game is over, I’ll post an update, complete with video highlights.

- Either Friday or over the weekend, I plan to post a big 2011-2012 Season Preview, with analysis of our new players and some discussion as to who our toughest rivals will be (both domestic and UEFA-wide).

- If any of you live in or around DC and you want to start meeting up to watch games this year, feel free to e-mail me at bayern.offside@yahoo.com.  Or, if several of you determine that you all live close together (elsewhere) and want to get a meet-up going, feel free to throw out ideas in the comments, or e-mail me and I’ll see if I can facilitate.  Thanks for reading.

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Halftime update - Barca controlling possession and leading 1-0.  Bayern had a reallty good chance on a break-away from Alaba (good Valdes save) and another decent chance on a self-volley and shot by Petersen (another good save from VV).  Other than that, it's been mostly Barca. 

Our midfield hasn't been able to control the ball like yesterday, we have trouble even stringing 3 passes together with neither Bastian nor Kroos. 

Here's Barcelona's goal:

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Barca 2-0 Bayern is your final. Full highlights here (this includes Alaba's 1v1 attempt that Valdes saved, as well as both Barcelona goals).

Not too angry, although we played poorly for most of the match it just proves that Bastian, Robben and Lahm are the starters for a reason. Usami and Petersen, although they looked pretty good at times this pre-season, would be better used in substitute roles or in Pokal games, at least for the next few months.

Boateng didn't impress me as much as I thought he would. Several questions remain unanswered. But it's good to be watching games again.