Bayern Munich’s Champions League Journey

May 3, 2018

Bayern Munich’s Champions League Journey

When Jupp Heynckes took over Bayern Munchen as coach following Ancelotti’s 3-0 defeat to Paris Saint Germain in the Champions League, a hope arose in the heart of every Bayern supporter. The last treble-winner for the Bavarian club took over a side that had at risk not even winning the Bundesliga, as rivals Dortmund were 1st by a good margin at the point. Now what we see is a team who has won its 6th consecutive Bundesliga title and is again in the final of the DFB-Pokal. However, what everyone wanted to know at the time was one thing: How far could this team go in the Champions League?

Heynckes change of thinking inside the club showed its results in European stage soon after his takeover: They won 3-0 against Celtic, then 2-1 against the same club. The same result came against Anderlecht, being followed by a very secure 3-1 win against PSG. Yes, now we knew we could trust this Bayern to do better in the European stage.

In the knockout phase, even better results: A 5-0 against Besiktas in German ground and a 3-1 win away from home to guarantee a place in the quarter finals showed us that Bayern was just not a good side, but one that had a very clear goal: be champion once again. In addition, they knew they had what was necessary to do so.

Onto the quarter-finals, they picked up one of the favourable ties in the CL: Sevilla, a very good side in cup-like tournaments. The Spaniards had just reached the Copa del Rey final and were starting to get used in winning the Europa League, as they won it in 2014,15 and 16. Now it was the second consecutive time they were out of the group stage of the biggest European club competition. In 2016-17 they were knocked out by Leicester City in the round of 16, but now they showed a more prepared team as they took out Manchester United in Old Trafford at the same phase, in one of the most memorable matches for the club.

The first game, played in Spain, ended 2-1 for the bavarians,. In the second leg they tried just to keep a safe result, as Sevilla proved to be a very tough opponent. Thus, the game ended in a goalless draw, the minimum necessary to pass for the next phase: the semi-finals. They would be playing against Real Madrid, the 12 time CL champions, once again.

Taking place at the Allianz Arena, Bayern’s home, the first game ended 2-1 for the Madrid visitors. However, the result wasn’t a reflection of how the game went. For many who watched the match, the team who played better was the one in red. Bayern really created more chances at goal than the reigning champions, but couldn’t make it past their goalkeeper Keylor Navas. Besides that, the German club made a crucial mistake that cost them a lot, with a wrong pass in their backline, which found a free Madrid player.

The same scenario happened in the second leg, at the Santiago Bernabeu. Although Bayern played with high quality football for a great part of the 90 minutes, they just could not find more than 2 goals. There was again a mistake from a Bayern player, this time made by the GK, Sven Ulreich. Both mistakes cost a lot for the club, as it could mean they would be now in the finals.

However, what should be taken from the team performances in the Champions League this year, with Jupp Heynckes, are mostly positive aspects. While they couldn’t reach the finals, it happened because of silly mistakes. Those happen, unfortunately. It is important that in moments like these the team maintain it’s structure with every member helping each other. Well, that is, in theory…

Some fans noticed a, let’s say, “lack of Companionship” between the team players after the end of the game. The main argument for this thought is the image of Ulreich (who made a “mistake” in the 2nd game) alone in the pitch after everyone left for the locker room, probably. However, many of the club players left positive messages for him in his Instagram afterward. Whatever the truth really is, it should be taken into consideration that this was Ulreich biggest match to this day. Before that, he proved to be a very capable GK in the Bundesliga, DFB Pokal, and even CL. He even stated he “didn’t know what happened to him” in that particular play. Really, really unlucky.

Taking those little problems in the semis apart, it’s clear that Bayern did a very good job in this edition of the Champions League. From an “uncredited” team from the start of the season, they finish as the clear best German club, with records being broken at the Bundesliga. Even though they didn’t make it to the finals of the grand stage, they go out with their heads up, knowing that they played their best football since 2013, and also showed something essential in any club: the resilience to never disbelieve in themselves and never give up.

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