Bayern Munich officially booked their place in the knockout stages of the Champions League with their 4-2 win over Viktoria Plzeň and were aided by Barcelona’s 3-3 draw with Inter Milan elsewhere in group C. Julian Nagelsmann’s side raced to a 4-0 first half lead to secure the three points — though Viktoria Plzeň made a strong showing in the second half, scoring two unanswered goals.
Speaking after the match, Plzeň manager Michal Bílek reflected on what he had seen.
“We knew that Bayern are a top team and incredibly strong, especially in attack. They have quick players and their movement was a problem for us. They were able to overwhelm us and score goals with ease. The first half was tough to take, but I’m happy that we didn’t give up and played very well in the second half,” Bílek explained (FCBayern).
On paper, Viktoria Plzeň was always the weakest team in group C, but Bayern have the distinction of being the first team in the group thus far to concede two goals to them. The only other goal they’ve scored thus far in the competition came in their 5-1 loss to FC Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Matchday 1 of the competition.
With the substitutions Nagelsmann made, it’s safe to assume he already had one eye fixated on the weekend clash in the Bundesliga against SC Freiburg. By the end of the game, Bayern was fielding a makeshift back four comprised of Josip Stanisic, Benjamin Pavard, Noussair Mazraoui and 16-year-old attacking midfielder Paul Wanner.
Still, there wasn’t much keeper Sven Ulreich could do to stop the shots from Plzeň’s Adam Vlkanova (62’) and Jan Kliment (75’). By the end of the game, both teams had similar shot totals — fifteen apiece; six on target for Plzeň to eight for Bayern. There’s life yet in the defending Czech champions.
Plzeň are now mathematically eliminated from advancing in the Champions League, but third place — and a Europa League knockouts ticket — is up for grabs. A smash-and-grab against Inter, another against Barça...who’s to say? There may be twists and turns in this story yet.
For Bílek, he and his team must know that their fate is in their hands. And for one half against one of the finest teams in the world, they showed a glimpse of what they might be able to achieve.
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