Bayern catches some Champions League luck
Even though Bayern Munich controlled possession in the first half, Sevilla had the best chances—in particular, when winger Pablo Sarabia somehow pushing the ball wide of the right goalpost on a sitter while one-on-one against keeper Sven Ulreich from 10 yards out. Bayern’s good fortune continued in the 37th minute when Franck Ribery played a routine, low cross into the box that clipped off of Jesus Navas and wrongfooted goalkeeper David Soria just enough for the ball to sneak over the line. Bayern’s second goal was a downward header from Thiago Alcantara (off a nice cross from Ribery), but it too was deflected by a defender before nestling in the back of the net. Both goals came off deflections. Fortuitous, to say the least.
Jupp’s substitutions paid dividends
As you may have heard, Arturo Vidal left the match against Sevilla with an injury. Bring on James Rodriguez: James almost immediately set up Ribery for the cross that led to Bayern’s opening goal.
It must be said that Juan Bernat’s visit back to the land of his birth did not go well for him. Bernat was at fault for Sevilla’s goal and picked up a cheap yellow card out of frustration not long after. By halftime head coach Jupp Heynckes had seemingly seen enough and brought on Rafinha—although it later emerged that Bernat had suffered a deep cut on his ankle. The Brazilian had a steadying influence on the game and brought much needed cohesion to Bayern’s left flank.
Javi Martinez’s tackle was a match-changer
The second half was only minutes old when it looked all but certain that Sevilla’s Franco Vázquez was in on goal alone. Then out of nowhere came a Javi Martinez steaming in to tackle the ball away. The timing was absolutely perfect; as Martinez tracked back, he stymied the dangerous chance before it got started. If not for this tackle, the home side would have probably taken the lead and Bayern would have been forced to chase the game, leading to an entirely different second half.
The defensive line stayed back
Long passes upfield by the centerbacks to spring the attack? Didn’t happen. How about overlapping runs from the fullbacks? Nope. Bayern chose to play conservatively from the back and not risk their fullbacks being caught out of position by bombing forward. Sevilla is a threat on the counterattack, and Bayern did its best to thwart those opportunities. The plan didn’t always work, but it was a big reason why Bayern was able to secure victory.
Robert Lewandowski, where art thou?
Time to fess up. The best striker in the world had an off night. It happens. While he didn’t get a lot of quality service for a change, Robert Lewandowski also wasn’t able to make anything happen with his touches, and he also turned the ball over too often. Expect a bounce-back this weekend against Augsburg.
For a Champions League match this was a bit of a snoozer but Bayern was able to walk out of a tough place to play (Sevilla were previously unbeaten in their 11 home games against German clubs) with a win. In addition, Bayern had lost their last five away games to La Liga sides. So getting the win with two away goals - mission accomplished.