Episode 7. Bayern Munich 4-0 Atletico Madrid
UEFA Champions League Group Stage Matchday 1
October 21, 2020
Allianz Arena, Munich
Lineup: Neuer — Pavard (Sarr 74), Sule, Alaba, Hernandez — Goretzka (Martinez 83), Kimmich, Tolisso — Muller (Davies 83), Lewandowski (Choupo-Moting 83), Coman (Costa 74)
Goalscorers: Coman 28’, 72’; Goretzka 41’; Tolisso 66’/None
Bayern Munich started their new season with success after success. They won every game except one in the Bundesliga, and had collected more silverware after triumphing in the European and German Super Cups. It remained to be seen whether they could replicate their success in the Champions League.
Bayern had been drawn into a tough group with Red Bull Salzburg, Lokomotiv Moscow, and Atletico Madrid. Salzburg had shown that they had a lot of fight and desire the previous season, and away trips to Russia are no walks in the park. But of course, the biggest challenge was Spanish powerhouse Atletico Madrid. Bayern had faced Atletico four times in 2016, winning twice and losing twice. The results were all very close, and even when Bayern had emerged victorious, it was never easy.
There could not have been a bigger curtain raiser for Bayern’s Champions League campaign. Could they make it count against the Spaniards?
It was the visitors who got the first chance of the game, but Bayern almost immediately took control of the proceedings and started pushing Atletico further and further back. After a flurry of Bayern attacks, the hosts took the lead just before the half hour mark when Joshua Kimmich won the ball about 25 yards from goal and lofted it in to Kingsley Coman, who coolly finished from close range. Coman thus scored Bayern’s first goal of the Champions League two seasons in a row.
Another ball won high upfield resulted in Bayern’s second goal. This time it was Robert Lewandowski who intercepted a wayward back pass and opened it up to Coman. The Frenchman in turn found an unmarked Leon Goretzka on the other side of the penalty area and the German fired in to double the score.
Just after halftime, Atletico’s Joao Felix scored but was denied by the offside flag. The Spaniards were nonetheless motivated and created some chances of their own, but failed to bear any fruit. Bayern killed the game off later on when a rebounded free kick found its way to Corentin Tolisso, who unleashed a rocket from 30 yards right into the top corner. There was still time for Coman to get his second of the night after a brilliant solo run that left the entire Atletico defense for dead.
Ten minutes later, the referee blew for full time with Bayern emerging as dominant and fully deserved victors.
Why was this match special?
This match was most special because it was a result that no one was expecting. Because of the close nature of the aforementioned results between the two teams, fans were expecting another tight affair. Instead, they got a complete blowout. Bayern were always one step ahead of Atletico, and never did it look like they were in danger. To think that Bayern could deliver this kind of beating to one of the tightest defenses in the world was shocking, to say the least, if not a bit scary. In fact, Atletico had not conceded a single goal in four La Liga matches up until then, but conceded four in one against Bayern.
Hansi Flick made his mark on the Champions League once again, emerging victorious in the tactical battle with Atletico boss Diego Simeone. Simeone had led his team to a league title and two Champions League finals, and had established himself as one of the best coaches in the world. No one expected him to crumble so helplessly against Bayern, but he had it coming. Flick outsmarted the Argentine at every turn, countering his counter-plan and setting out his own plan to perfection. To read more about just how good Flick was against Atletico, click here.
All in all, it was an immense victory over one of the toughest opponents Bayern could draw, and a clear statement to the rest of Europe telling them that Bayern Munich were not the defending champions for nothing.
Bayern’s relentless run in the Champions League continued throughout the group stages, winning 2-1 in Moscow and 6-2(!) in Salzburg. A 3-1 win in the return leg against the Austrians ensured that Bayern won the group with two matches remaining, and they ultimately got five wins and one draw out of six matches, with the only draw happening away to Atletico with a highly experimental lineup.
A 6-2 aggregate win against Lazio in the round of 16 set Bayern up with a revenge match against Paris Saint-Germain. Sadly, the Bavarians finished their Champions League season in the quarterfinals after a bitter defeat on away goals. But considering they stood toe to toe with a handful of injuries, bad luck, and more, it can be confidently said that Bayern were knocked out with dignity. It was not the season they wanted, but it was not a complete failure either.
Meanwhile, Atletico still managed to qualify for the round of 16 despite their heavy defeat, but were knocked out by eventual champions Chelsea. However, they salvaged their pride at the end of the season in emphatic fashion by winning La Liga for the first time in seven years.