Full time: Bayern Munich finish the game 2-0. It was a masterclass defensive performance from the boys, but questions linger about the offense. Here are some initial observations to tide you over until we publish our post-game articles:
- Niko Kovac was beyond late with his substitutions, making the first one at the 84th minute. With Der Klassiker coming up and AEK being as threatening as UEFA’s FFP regulations (topical humor), maybe Robert Lewandowski could have been subbed a bit earlier.
- AEK Athens were limited to just 3 shots, one at the 5th minute, one at the 19th minute, and one at the 46th minute. That is some elite defending from our players.
- I wish Gnabry would pass more and shoot less.
- I wish Muller would shoot more and pass less.
- Another ineffective performance from Franck Ribery. I hope the fact that he was subbed doesn’t mean he’s going to start in the Klassiker.
- Leon Goretzka got battered out there. Out of all the players, I think AEK fouled him the most.
- No goals from open play — not a great sign for Bayern. Muller had at least two chances where he should have scored, and Lewandowski should have won his 1v1 with the keeper to complete the hat trick. Still, it’s not like Bayern didn’t create chances.
- This level of play may be okay for now, but it won’t be suitable against better teams. Kovac better have something planned for Dortmund.
91’ — Substitution: Sandro Wagner relieves Lewandowski for stoppage time (+3)
89’ — As Bayern cruises now to victory, AEK has not taken a shot since the 46th minute.
87’ — Substitution: Renato Sanches comes on for Gnabry.
84’ — Substitution: Rafinha comes on for Ribery. Sanches is up next...
83’ — Kimmich gives Lewandowski exactly the cross he asks for: the Pole sends a fierce header AEK’s way, but a defender manages to deflect it out of bound. All Lewy can do is applaud the service.
78’ — Substitution: Galanopoulos makes way for Galo, and the captain Mantalos makes way for Boye, as the Greek fans applaud.
77’ —Still no substitutions for Bayern. Kovac is keeping everyone fresh for Dortmund on Saturday. Müller and then Kimmich both take close shots at AEK’s goal off a corner, while some of the Greek players scuffle among themselves.
71’ — Goal for Bayern! 2-0. Just a moment after abruptly going to ground — leaving his teammates clearly wondering whether they should play the ball out of bounds, Robert Lewandowski shakes off whatever was bothering him and puts the ball away off a corner kick by Joshua Kimmich.
67’ — Yellow card: Lampropoulos see the yellow card for a hard foul on Goretzka. Goretzka has had a gritty match today.
Substitution: Morán replaces Alef for the Greeks.
66’ — AEK launch a nice attack off a clever through ball. Hult nutmegs Boateng in the act of shooting, but Neuer catches the ball anyway.
64’ — André Simoes receives a yellow card for a foul on Gnabry just outside the penalty area. Alaba fires the ball on target, but Barkas is ready.
61’ — Javi Martinez finds Lewandowski with a perfect through ball, but Lewy can’t get it past the Barkas.
57’ — Gnabry blasts the ball over the crossbar from range.
55’ — What a shot! Kimmich delivers yet another brilliant cross, this time to Leon Goretzka. Goretzka flies through the air and hits it on the volley — but AEK’s keeper Barkas parries it away.
52’ — Kimmich sends in a dangerous cross, but AEK heads it away before Müller can connect with it.
51’ — James Rodriguez, Renato Sanches, and Niklas Süle have begun warming up on the sideline.
Second half: The ball is rolling! Bayern resume their effort to build their lead.
Halftime: Bayern Munich have been sluggish today, but the scoreline still reads 1-0 to the home side. Hopefully the team can pick up the pace in the second half. Here are some observations from the first 45’:
- Franck Ribery and Serge Gnabry have been somewhat poor up front. It’s expected from Ribery at this point, but Gnabry has just been disappointing.
- Thomas Muller and Joshua Kimmich are the only ones creating chances so far, and it’s not enough.
- Jerome Boateng looks really off the pace, like his head isn’t in the game.
- The possession numbers show that it’s 61% in favor of Bayern, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way. There’s no controlling the tempo of this match.
45’ — Hult hits the ground hard after running straight into Jerome Boateng. If it was basketball, Hult would have been given the foul for charging into Boateng’s screen, but as it is, Boateng is fortunate to escape without a yellow card.
43’ — Lewandowski ruled offside. He struck a long ball from Boateng on the volley off the goalkeeper for what would have been a corner.
39’ — Now Serge Gnabry takes a shot on goal. AEK is beginning to open up.
37’ — Two close calls for Thomas Müller: first, driving in from the right, Müller can’t get a shot off in time to beat AEK’s defense; second, Cosic redeems himself by breaking up a clear shot on goal at the last instant.
35’ — Ponce goes to ground just outside Bayern’s penalty arc as Boateng beats him in the air. The AEK fans voice their displeasure, but the referee rules there was no foul.
31’ — Bayern score! Lewandowski buries the ball in the net with his trademark stagger-step. Bayern lead, 1-0.
30’ — Penalty for Bayern! Kimmich delivers a long corner to Thomas Müller, who hits the side netting. However, after consulting with his linesmen, the referee awards Bayern a penalty and AEK’s Cosic a yellow card for bringing the striker down during the corner.
29’ — Ribery drives inside from the left and tries to thread the ball through the mass of defenders, winning a corner.
26’ — Slight scare for Bayern as Mats Hummels heads a ball right to the feet of an AEK attacker. Fortunately, his teammates clear the danger.
25’ — Gnabry intercepts a poor pass, but then promptly loses the ball himself far too easily before Bayern can even counter.
23’ — Cosic is worse for the wear after an aerial collision with Lewandowski. No foul.
18’ — Gnabry charged with a foul for bringing down AEK’s Hult. Free kick AEK. Bayern easily clear it.
16’ — Bayern circle AEK’s penalty area. Müller fires in two long crosses looking for a target, but AEK clears the threat and vainly tries to counter.
11’ — AEK launch another counter, finding Ponce near the penalty spot. But with Boateng practically on top of him, his first touch eludes him and Neuer collects the ball.
Boateng looks uncomfortable after the challenge. Has he pulled a muscle?
10’ — Kimmich and Goretzka are showing some chemistry early on. Serge Gnabry has yet to get involved in the game.
7’ — Now Bayern nearly strike: Kimmich delivers a cross to Goretzka, but his own powerful header flies over the bar.
5’ — The match is only five minutes old and Bayern has had its first care: on AEK’s first corner, Ponce beats Mats Hummels in the air and fires a dangerous header just outside the far post. Bayern breathes a sigh of relief.
3’ — Hult makes a run up the left side for AEK and delivers a cross. Easy pickings for Bayern.
Kickoff: The ball is rolling! Bayern immediately press forward, looking for a crack in a dense defensive formation from AEK.
Half an hour to kickoff:
Here are the UEFA tactical lineups. Although represented as a 4-3-3, Bayern will play more as a 4-1-4-1, since Thomas Müller will undoubtedly play in the space behind Lewandowski, and Leon Goretzka will also press forward on attack.
One hour until kickoff: Lineups are out! Thomas Muller and Jerome Boateng start, James Rodriguez is left on the bench.
It’s time for the Champions League again, and this time Bayern Munich face a visit from Greek side AEK Athens. If the Bavarians win this game and Befica lose to Ajax, then they make it through to the Round of 16. However, what’s arguably more important is the buildup to the game against Borussia Dortmund on Saturday. Niko Kovac will be desperate for a win, otherwise the narrative leading up to that game could be painful.
Bayern will be without the services of Kingsley Coman, Thiago Alcantara, Corentin Tolisso, and Arjen Robben for this game. James Rodriguez has a calf injury and is doubtful, but he did participate in the team’s final training session before the game, so the prospects look good for him.
In the last game against AEK, Bayern struggled to score until well into the second half, so James could be key to unlocking the Greek side. If James doesn’t start, it will most likely be Thomas Muller in the lineup, either at right wing or attacking midfield, whatever the coach may decide.
It’s Bayern time.
Location: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Time: 9 pm local time, 3 pm EST
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