Let’s take a look at some of the main causes of discussion from yesterday evening’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg clash between Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern Munich and Senol Gunes’ Besiktas at the Allianz Arena, as the hosts left the visitors with an improbable task to try to get back into this one in the second leg.
Besiktas Mullered In Munich
If last night’s one-sided European affair belonged to one man, that surely was veteran Bayern forward Thomas Muller, who managed to put in a Man of the Match display.
The German and skipper of the club he has served for ten years led by example in the first knockout round by netting a brace with strikes either side of half-time and a late assist.
Muller’s first would break the deadlock in Germany’s second city, finally breaching a stern Turkish defence, who had seen a member sent off in the early knockings.
Kingsley Coman’s excellent run and cross from the left deflected off full-back David Alaba and fell to the centre-forward, who turned and slid the ball under Fabri amid appeals for offside from the opposition.
If there was a hint of controversy in his first, that element was missing from the second as Joshua Kimmich delivered from the right and he was on hand to stab a volley home via a palm from Fabri, Muller continues to confound his critics ahead of the summer’s World Cup.
Clinical Lewandowski Kills Off Visitors
While his slightly more junior attacking partner stole the show with his performance, there can be no understating the role that top-scorer for Heynckes’ men Robert Lewandowski had to play.
The Polish International was involved right from the get-go, drawing the foul from Domagoj Vida that earned him his marching orders with some clever attacking football, which we will touch on later.
But, having teed up Coman for his solitary goal, Lewandowski had to wait 79 minutes for his own moment, reacting quickest to a Mats Hummels shot that was parried by Fabri to stab home from point-blank range and make it 4-0.
In theory, his first had all but put the whole tie to bed, though he was hungry to get on the scoresheet once again and did so on 89, Muller putting that ball on a plate for him beyond the goalkeeper and the defenders for the simplest of tap-ins.
The two efforts now mean that the 29-year-old is on 34 for the season for club and country, 29 of those coming in red and blue and furthermore, five in the Champions League, could his goals fire the Bundesliga leaders to success on the European stage?
Coman The Creator Turns Goal-Scorer
Featuring as one of the home side’s three main men on the night, the French winger was a firm contender for Man of the Match and could have won the award if it wasn’t for the displays of Muller and Lewandowski.
Perhaps most impressive about the France International’s performance on the left flank was his ability to transform from the creative spark to the born-finisher in an instant.
With his team only leading by one in the 52nd minute, Coman took a gamble by meandering into the penalty area when Munich were in possession of the ball on the opposite side.
Lewandowski and Muller were able to play a quick one-two, the latter getting in behind to cut it back to the Frenchman in the centre of the box, smashing the ball low and hard into the bottom left-hand corner.
This came after Coman was heavily involved in the opener with some terrific movement and vision on the left, the goal was his seventh of the campaign, and the 21-year-old is quickly maturing to become a key component of the Bayern machine.
Lonely Night At Allianz For Ten-Men Black Eagles
There can be little doubting that the chance of Gunes’ visitors leaving the Allianz Arena with anything on Tuesday evening was always going to be slim and this proved all too true for the Turkish team.
However, with the scores posed at 0-0 on 16 minutes, their climb got even steeper with the sending off of key centre-back Vida by Romanian Referee Ovidiu Hategan.
Opposing forward Lewandowski stole the ball after a mislaid pass in defence, and in a flash, had the goal and Fabri bearing down, only to be hauled to the ground by the reckless challenge of the Croatia International in the edge of the area.
Hategan’s decision was simple as the defender had denied the striker a clear goal-scoring opportunity and set the pace of the affair for both teams, there could only be one winner despite an initial fightback from the away side.
The result was perhaps made even more damning for them by the fact they were alone in Germany, with no away supporters allowed to make the trip, they will get to play in front of their own fans in the return leg, but the team in the Champions League knockouts for the first ever time will need nothing short of a miracle to progress.
So, with the matter of UCL football attending to for both of these sides for the next couple of weeks anyway, they will now turn their attentions back to their domestic Leagues, it’s time to see who they will be facing next.
It will be a swift return back to the spills and thrills of the German Top-Flight for Bayern, the giants posses a 19-point lead at the top and host Hertha Berlin on Saturday.
Whereas, the story is very different for Besiktas in the Turkish Super Lig, the club occupy fourth position, five points off leaders and local rivals Istanbul, they entertain Fenerbahce on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Heynckes and Gunes will do battle once again in exactly three weeks’ time, Wednesday 14 March 2018 to be more precise at the Vodafone Arena, kick-off 5 PM GMT, who will book their place in the Quarter-Finals? Join us once again then to find out.