By Walter Broeckx
Apart from a miracle I think we can say that the CL is over for Arsenal. We can be optimistic and we can believe in miracles but scoring 3 goals in Munich and not letting in a goal is as good as impossible. Only a total off day of Bayern Munich could make it happen I think.
I think we have seen what probably is the best and strongest team in the world in the current season. People can say that Barcelona is better but I think as a team this Bayern Munich is better. Barcelona has a few individual exceptional talents. Bayern has less individual talent but every single player is a very technical gifted player and they all can run, run, run, run and run.
Apart from the Chelsea fans I think the whole world said that Bayern Munich should have won the CL last season. And for me they are the top favourites for this year also. I wouldn’t be surprised if they come back to London in a few months to win the CL. Last season they were the best team up to the final and well what I have seen in the last months when watching the Bundesliga and what I saw today shows that they are the complete team.
I think the main difference between the two teams was in the game on the flanks. With Vermaelen playing at left back we have someone who is not used to play in that position. He has played there and he can play there but he has the usual centre back faults when playing there. He has the natural habit of creeping inside and thus leaving space to the flank player to pull in a cross. An example was the first goal. Which was a fine goal I have to admit and what a well taken shot from Kroos. Another Bayern youth product.
Bayern exploited this very well as we found out. But another important thing when Vermaelen plays at left back is that we have no extra flank player who does the overlapping runs behind the back of Podolski. In fact I only remember him doing it once. In minute 90 or so and then Lahm had to stop him with a foul on the edge of the penalty area. This is what you get when you play with a centre back at left back. Or don’t get would be better.
I think we started not bad but when Bayern scored their first goal you could see a team shell shocked. Bayern smelled blood and went in search of a second goal and got it when Szczesny could only half stop a header from Van Buyten (I had warned for this) and Muller was on hand to push it over the line. (Damned I had warned for Muller scoring). Arsène, you really should read Untold.
The 0-2 was as big as a shock can be for the team. Bayern bossed the remainder of the first half but we slowly came back a bit at them in the last 10 minutes of the first half. But when we tried to shoot the Bayern players smothered all the attempts we made. I thought Per was very close but two defenders blocked what looked a goal bound shot.
In the second half we played better. We moved the ball better but then you could see what an impressive machine Bayern is. Their players ran and closed each Arsenal player down at a high speed and made it very difficult for us. But you could also see that we started to play our game a bit. Chances were rare because of again the Bayern defenders blocking all shots going at goal. We then got a corner that should have been a goal kick and then we saw that Neuer maybe is a good line keeper but he found himself in no-mansland when the corner came in and Podolski nodded the ball in.
We then had a rather good spell with us dictating the game but you could see the constant danger when they threatened to counter. Hard work prevented them most of the time.
On came Giroud and Rosicky and Walcott moved a bit to the right flank. I think the turning point was when Walcott crossed the ball and Giroud hit it first time with his right foot. Half a meter to each side from the keeper would have been enough. Now the ball ended up against the arm of Neuer who didn’t know really what happened but was glad that the ball spun away from goal. If only that would have gone in, we could have had a Barcelona finish.
A bit later we were not that lucky. A counter on our left flank resulted in a cross that went to Mandzukic and Sagna. Sagna tried to clear the ball but the ball bounced against the leg of Mandzukic who was already in front of the ball and it looped in to the goal. A bit fortunate how the ball went in but they all count.
That was the end of the game even though we did have a few chances but this time Neuer was more on hand to smother any danger.
Conceding early in the game was yet again the start of our downfall. Not having a left back to stretch their flank was another problem. We all played to central and the gap that we could have found was not exploited. Bayern did this much better.
I think our players showed enough commitment as they started kicking around a bit after going 0-2 down in an attempt to turn the game around. But the speed of each Bayern player and the skill and most of all the change in speed in their game were much better than what we could produce today.
It’s disappointing but well the game has been played and the only thing we can do is to hope that the moral in the team is restored again next Saturday. That is a job that the coaching staff has to do now. Rebuilding confidence and start the chase for the higher placed teams. Or we could all start to pray for a miracle of course…