Four trips to Spain, four losses. Bayern Munich’s poor run in Spain continued Wednesday as Atletico Madrid held off the German champions in the Vicente Calderón for the second time in 2016.
Their perfect run leading up to the game suggested that Bayern was a different team under Carlo Ancelotti. But their trip to Madrid was just as unsuccessful as it was in the spring of last season. Bayern could not crack the Atleti’s defensive foundation, and one mistake from Xabi Alonso gave the Champions League finalists the only goal they needed.
Trying to win the ball in midfield, Alonso headed the ball backwards into the path of Antoine Griezmann. A handful of dribbles was all it took for Atletico’s Frenchman to disrupt Bayern’s defense. Griezmann then picked out the run of Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, and the Belgian clanged a shot off the far post. The goal gave Atleti the lead at the half-an-hour mark, and made an already tough task even tougher.
The loss for Bayern may not be as devastating as the one in April, one that helped Atleti advance to the Champions League final for the second time in three years. The win for Atletico put them atop Group D after two match days, an advantage that Bayern can very easily overcome. But the result did end Ancelotti’s perfect start to his Bayern coaching career.
“It was a very important group game,” Robben said to ZDF after the game. “This was the semifinal last season, and people could see why.”
Ancelotti did not stray from his best line-up like his predecessor did last season. He selected the same line-up Bayern played with a week ago against Hertha Berlin, where as Pep Guardiola dropped Thomas Müller from the side in Bayern’s other trip to the Calderon in 2016. The result ended up being exactly the same, Bayern conceding in the first half and unable to come up with an equalizer.
The game was an exhausting effort from both teams. In fact, if someone were to turn on the game not knowing what time of year it was, he or she may not have guessed it was just the second round or the group stage. The intensity went into overdrive right at the starting whistle, Griezmann firing away the first shot of the game within the first ten seconds.
Bayern certainly had their chances, especially in the first half. Thiago picked out Thomas Müller on a chipped ball over the Atletico defense, but Müller could not beat Jan Oblak’s diving save. Robert Lewandowski had similar luck against Oblak as well, unable to thump a header on a Philipp Lahm delivery past the Atletico goalkeeper.
But defensive mistakes halted Bayern’s attacking momentum. Javi Martinez lost the ball to Fernando Torres not far outside of Bayern’s penalty area early in the first half. Luckily, the Spanish defender, who has played every game for Bayern this season, redeemed his mistake by winning the ball from Torres on a sliding challenge inside the box. Alonso’s mistake was not one he could erase though and had to watch on defensively as Carrasco found the back of the net.
Ancelotti acted quickly in the second half, making all three substitutions at the hour mark. That tactic helped Bayern pick up three points against Schalke earlier in September, but the changes did little to turn the game around. Arjen Robben was the first of the three substitutions, but his pace and his quick one-twos were not enough to get Bayern back level.
Bayern became more unhinged as the game reached a close. Arturo Vidal conceded a penalty when he recklessly lunged into Felipe Luis. Fortunately for Bayern, Griezmann hit the crossbar with his effort from the spot to still give them a chance to equalize.
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Bayern Munich
Atleti: Yannick Ferreira Carrasco (35’)
Bayern XI: Neuer – Lahm, Martinez, Boateng (Hummels 62’), Alaba – Thiago (Kimmich 66’), Alonso, Vidal – Müller (59’), Lewandowski, Ribery
Atleti XI: Oblak – Juanfran, Savic, Godin, Felipe Luis – Saul, Gabi, Koke, Carrasco (Gameiro 72’) – Torres (Gaitan 79’), Griezmann (Partey 90+2’)