FC Bayern’s Champions League campaign got off to the best possible start today, as Bayern went on the road to drop Villarreal by a score of 2-0. An early Kroos goal after a sharp pass from Ribery put Bayern in the driver’s seat. After that, the game bogged down a bit, with neither team taking control and Bayern (in my opinion) not looking very good in the passing and build-up game. But once the second half started, Bayern seized the initiative and created a few more good chances, and it was Rafinha’s late goal that gave us a two goal edge and sealed the win.
The first goal was set up by Ribery, who carved out space on the left side and then centered to Kroos:
A deceptively tricky finish for Kroos, though. Although he had the whole right side of the net open, he had to lash a hard shot on the first touch - not easy with a ball that’s coming at him sideways. With Robben still on the shelf, Kroos is emerging as possible our best pure shooter. Hopefully he can turn into the reliable fifth forward we’ve been looking for (behind Gomez, Müller, Ribery and Robben), able to start in case of injury and fatigue and also to be a valuable sub bringing some explosiveness off the bench.
The Rafinha goal was a brilliant piece of individual skill:
He nutmegs the defender, scrambles to the ball, and then blasts a hard shot from inside the area. Weird to think that he wasn’t in the starting line-up today, but all’s well that ends well, I guess.
Overall, you have to be happy with the result, but Bayern did look rather ordinary for most of the first half. We got caught offside at least three or four times, with Gomez in particular letting the defense trap him too high. And while there weren’t any glaring mistakes, Villarreal created a few chances and Neuer had to make two good saves - the quick high shot that he smacked aside, and the low line drive that he saved with his thighs. If things had gone a little differently, it could have been 1-1 at the half, and a much different game.
But, all in all, a very positive performance. With Manchester City held to a 1-1 draw vs. Napoli, Bayern now sits alone at the top of the Group, with 3 of the remaining 5 group games at the Allianz Arena. Not a bad place to be. We’ll be back with more analysis later, just wanted to throw the videos up now in case people hadn’t seen the goals. Thanks for reading.