Bayern Munich stormed into the Champions League semi-finals for the third year in a row following a resounding 6-1 home victory against FC Porto on Tuesday. After falling behind 3-1 in the first leg last week, the pressure was on for Bayern to score at least twice to avoid a major upset, and they didna t disappoint. In one of the greatest first half performances this season, Bayern went rampant and scored five times without reply, but eased the pressure in the second half.
It was all Bayern right from minute one, with Robert Lewandowski rattling the post just minutes before Thiago headed them in front fifteen minutes in. A Jerome Boateng header and a great team goal finished by Lewandowski put the tie firmly in Bayerna s hands with just half an hour played. The Pole netted once more after Thomas MA?llera s deflected goal to effectively finish off the tie. Bayerna s urgency wore off in the second half, with Porto managing to get a consolation through Jackson Martinez later. Ivan Marcanoa s second yellow saw him sent off in the dying minutes of the game, following which Xabi Alonso thumped in the free kick to put Bayern on course for Berlin.
Here are the major talking points from the game:
Pep Guardiola knows what he is doing
After receiving his fair share of criticism following the 3-1 defeat away last week, Guardiola realised the need of a direct, fast-paced, attacking approach. The usual tactic of build-up from the back, measured passing and patient defending all were ruthlessly exploited by Portoa s pressing game in the first leg. Realising that, a change was made. Knowing that Porto would prioritize defence, the aforementioned direct tactics were duly employed, which worked to perfection. The second half quietened down a bit, serving as a period of rest for the players who ran their socks off.
No player is like Thomas MA?ller, except Thomas MA?ller
One goal and two assists reads MA?llera s contribution yesterday. However, his true contribution is much more a something that statistics cana t capture. The self described a space interpretera showed great pace, strength and awareness to cause the Porto defence all sorts of problems. His perfectly weighted pass for Lewandowskia s first goal showed perfect technique as he once again showed that he will always be there at the right time and place. His free moving role on the right side was further supplemented by Philipp Lahma s runs which were an additional nightmare for the Porto defence. Right now, there is no player who is more perfectly suited to his club than Thomas MA?ller suits Bayern.
Is there anything Thiago cana t do?
Perhaps the single best player on the field yesterday, Thiago started the comeback with a neat headed goal, and was instrumental in securing the win. He completed 80% of his passes, won 2 aerial duels, completed 4 dribbles and made a further 4 key passes. Defensively, he was involved in 7 tackles and interceptions, bossing the game from start to finish. Ever since his return injury, Thiago has been one of the best performers at Bayern, proving to be a big-game player as well. All play seemed to go through him, and it looks unlikely that he will be benched anytime soon, despite him being not at 100% fitness. He has perfectly justified why Pep Guardiola rates his so highly and why the Spanish manager wanted to sign him from Barcelona.
None of the injured players were missed
Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Javi Martinez, David Alaba and Mehdi Benatia all missed out on the action due to injury, which would mean disaster for any team, but not Bayern. All six are potential first team starters who seem irreplaceable. Thiago stepped into the Schweinsteiger void, MA?ller and G tze offered more to the team than Ribery and Robben and Bernata s performance left us wondering if there is a better left back in Europe at the moment. All the above players are expected to be back within the next few weeks, but one thing is for certain a they need to fight their way back into the first XI.
Bayern Munich truly looked like champions yesterday, and showed the world that they indeed have a Plan-B should things look to get out of hand, which would certainly instil fear into their potential opponents in the semi-finals.