Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Brilliant Bayern Munich in a different class

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 02: David Silva of Manchester City hits a free kick during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Manchester City and FC Bayern Muenchen at Etihad Stadium on October 2, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 02: David Silva of Manchester City hits a free kick during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Manchester City and FC Bayern Muenchen at Etihad Stadium on October 2, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Remember what Manchester City did to Manchester United in the Premier League earlier in the season when the Blues outclassed the Reds in the demolition derby?

Well, triple it and you'll come close to the beating the brilliant, breathtaking Bayern Munich dished out to Manuel Pellegrini's side in the Champions League at the Etihad Stadium.

United may have been hammered 4-1 in the domestic clash, but in European competition last night it was 3-1 to Munich going on 13.

Make no mistake the scoreline flattered the home side, who had a late flurry in a contest that was as one sided as it gets.

Seriously, if City v United was men against boys, this was Supermen v Tiny Tots still learning to walk in this tough football school, where only the best survive.

Yaya Toure, that man mountain of a midfielder, was overpowered with ease, Sergio Aguero that gifted goalscoring striker looked as threatening as a stuffed panda toy and Vincent Kompany, widely regarded as the best defender in English football, wandered around like a lost soul searching in vain for some comfort.

As for the rest of City's players, they played as if they knew they didn't deserve to be on the same pitch as the aristocrats from the Bundesliga.

Only second half substitutes Alvaro Negredo and David Silva, who entered the fray with the battle well and truly over, appeared comfortable in this company with the latter passing to the former for a smartly taken goal with 10 minutes left.

Silva hit the crossbar with an excellent free-kick a few moments later after Bayern's outstanding centre-back Jerome Boateng was red carded for hauling down Toure, but it had that all too little, too late feel about it with Munich already thinking about their flight home.

Bayern's football en route to winning the Champions League last season was magnificent. They also won the league and cup in Germany in an exhilirating final campaign for manager Jupp Heynckes.

On this showing Pep Guardiola, back in management following his sabbatical, is inspiring them to become even better.

They were awesome from front to back. Comparing them to Guardiola's former side Barcelona, who narrowly overcame Celtic on Tuesday night, both enjoyed vast amounts of possession in their respective matches, but it was Bayern who had by far the sharper cutting edge.

Always supremely confident and full of swagger, the success of last season and the arrival of Pep has given the likes of Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Thomas Muller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos and Philipp Lahm greater self belief.

And you though that wasn't possible.

They feel they can't lose and were a joy to watch as they ripped City to shreds, although Joe Hart must accept the blame for his pitiful efforts to stop shots in either half from Ribery and Robben that hit the net.

In between Muller, such a quality player, made the City defence look shambolic as the visitors threatened to run riot took before they took their foot off the Porsche accelerator.

Some telling statistics: In the first half Bayern had 75% of the ball. They played 690 passes to 332 for the home team and Munich had 20 attempts on goal, twice as much as the opposition, and 13 of them were on target.

City, for all their new found money, have yet to take one notable scalp in Champions League football.

Perhaps this was the harshest lesson of all.

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