Impressive Bayern make all the running
Goals from Alaba and Muller give last year’s finalists a healthy first-leg lead
Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery and David Alaba celebrate Alaba’s goal against Juventus in last night’s Champions League quarter-final first leg game in Munich. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters
Bayern Munich 2 Juventus 0: Bayern Munich, those edgiest of all-conquering Euro giants, might yet wilt at the last once again in the Champions League. But not just yet, it seems, after a dominant first-leg display from Jupp Heynckes’ wonderfully mobile, muscular team brought a 2-0 victory over a disappointing Juventus.
This was a richly anticipated meeting of the trophy clubs of Italy and Germany, but by the end goals from David Alaba and Thomas Muller barely did justice to the hosts’ superiority and it will take an improbably dramatic turnaround in the momentum of this tie to prevent Bayern reaching the semi-finals.
Following Bayern’s 9-2 swatting aside of Hamburg, there was much talk in Munich of the need to avoid self-immolating complacency.
There was not much evidence of that in the early moments although Bayern’s sensational start owed most to simple good fortune. Picking up the ball in a central area some 30 yards out, and with just 27 seconds on the clock, the Austrian left-back Alaba produced a hopeful drive that skimmed, bounced and ultimately dribbled past Gianluigi Buffon’s with the help of a cruel deflection off Arturo Vidal. Alaba celebrated like a lottery winner as the Allianz Arena erupted with a sense of glorious disbelief.
Bayern's home remains one of Europe's more arresting out-of-town super-stadia, befitting one of Europe’s footballing powerhouses. It was a boisterous night throughout, the noise rising a notch whenever Andrea Pirlo had the ball. Juve’s playmaker drew the concerted whistles and jeers that are the due one of German football’s recent bogeyman.
Antonio Conte has promised before kick-off that his team would play with no fear and so they did here in response to that early blow. Albeit, this Juve team know no other way, a resolutely hard-running, indomitably focused collection of black and white soldier ants, ranged around Pirlo. Two archly-flighted early Pirlo corners highlighted Bayern’s surprising weakness at set pieces, the second after eight minutes flapped away in harum-scarum fashion by Manuel Neuer,
With 13 minutes gone, and moments after the forceful Vidal had skimmed a shot just past the post, there was a blow for Bayern as Toni Kroos left the field with what looked like a hamstring strain. No great hardship when his replacement is Arjen Robben, who went to the right, with Muller shifted to the middle. Robben it was who stilled Juve's momentum with a series of driving runs down the right flank, drawing a fine low save from Buffon from Philipp Lahm's cross, before Franck Ribery shot just wide after Mario Mandzukic pressurised Andrea Barzagli into an error.
Muller created a wonderful chance for Robben with a neat cut back on 32 minutes. Steadying himself, the Dutchman somehow shot wide from 10 yards to howls of head-clasping disbelief from the home fans.
The visitors were again pinned back in defence at the start of the second half. Mandzukic drew another save from Buffon after a galloping run and drive as Bayern pressed.
With Juve all but completely hemmed in a second goal duly arrived on 63 minutes. Gustavo’s shot from distance bounced awkwardly in front of Buffon, whose parry fell limply into Mandzukic’s path. The Croat’s cut back found Muller, as ever, in space to tap home.
That second goal leaves Juventus the proverbial mountain to climb in the scond leg.