Bayern Munich 2-0 FC Barcelona: Match Review

Stuart Franklin

A recap of Barcelona's 0-2 pre-season friendly defeat against Bayern Munich, as Pep Guardiola's side cruised to victory in the 2013 Uli Hoeness Cup thanks goals from Philipp Lahm and Mario Mandzukic

FC Barcelona were unsurprisingly defeated in their first pre-season friendly of the campaign, losing 2-0 at the Allianz Arena to UEFA Champions League winners Bayern Munich. Pep Guardiola’s side started in a 4-3-3 formation not too dissimilar from the one he used at the Camp Nou – and it paid dividends, as Bayern stormed into the lead, courtesy of Philipp Lahm’s 14th minute header. Barcelona had a couple of chances here and there – nothing major – and it wasn’t until the second-half, when Jordi Roura made 11 changes, that Barça began to look like "themselves". A young XI held their own against Bayern, before a late tap-in from Mario Mandzukic secured the win for the hosts.

Bayern Munich

Barcelona

Possession

53%

47%

Total Shots

14

7

Shots on Target

7

0

Fouls

7

9

Offsides

2

1

Yellow Cards

0

2

Red Cards

0

0


After their arrival at the Allianz Arena was delayed by a traffic jam, the last thing FC Barcelona needed was a surprise; so Jordi Roura kept things simple with a starting XI composed entirely of first-team players. The only available first-team player to miss out was Oier Olazábal, and there was at least a place for him on the Barça bench – alongside 11 players from Eusebio’s B team who were hoping for at least a taste of the action in the second-half. Bayern Munich on the other hand continued to experiment, as Pep Guardiola once again deployed club captain Philipp Lahm in the Bayern midfield. However, from a Barça perspective the headline news was that Thiago Alcântara started against his former club. Would he be able to inspire Bayern to yet another victory, or would Barcelona shock the world by stealing a surprise win at the Allianz Arena?

As a result of Barcelona’s unfortunate journey, kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes – although unlike events in Hong Kong, this friendly would not be "shortened" to two 40-minute halves. Sporting the brand-new away kit based on the famous Catalan flag, Lionel Messi was captain for the night, and it didn’t take him long to make his presence known.

While Messi didn’t hit the target with his long-range effort, his early chance was a promising sign for the Blaugrana, as the Bayern defense anxiously dropped deeper with each passing stride from the Argentine superstar. However, that hope was short-lived as the Blaugrana were soon reminded of the quality in Bayern’s starting XI.

Toni Kroos missed the UEFA Champions League semi-final clash between the two sides through injury but he wasted no time in introducing himself to the Catalan defense when he registered the game’s first shot on target – forcing an excellent save from Jose Manuel Pinto with a powerful effort from the right-hand side of the Barça penalty area. Without influential captain Carles Puyol, and without three of their regular back-line, Barcelona’s defensive frailties were as apparent as ever – and the efficient German attack looked to take full advantage.

Skipping away from the rash challenge of Marc Bartra, Franck Ribery found acres of space on the left-hand side of attack, and found the run of Arjen Robben with a superb low-cross, but the Dutchman couldn’t convert thanks to an incredible last-ditch clearance from Adriano. Starting in a more familiar left-back position, Adriano looked to be in good shape, but his clearance had merely delayed the inevitable.

Whether it was the lack of match practice, the somewhat unusual journey or simply a lack of experience, Martin Montoya was struggling on the right-hand side of defense – a fact that both Guardiola, and the Bayern squad recognised.

Now, every single attack was being launched down the Bayern left, and therefore right at Montoya.

Switching play with a pin-point diagonal pass, Bayern again found Franck Ribery in space – and Montoya still didn’t close him down. Sure, it’s pre-season and a player like Ribery is more than capable of beating his man on the dribble, but Montoya needed to do something, anything to make Ribery’s life a little more complex – and as a result of his lax defending, Ribery had all the time in the world to pick out a target for his in-swinging cross.

With Javier Mascherano starting in the heart of defense, it’s safe to say that Barcelona were always going to struggle in the air, but this was almost insulting as Phlipp Lahm (a full-back by trade) completely evaded Marc Bartra, and out-jumped Mascherano to flick the ball over the head of Pinto and gift Bayern a deserved lead.

All this action and we were just a quarter of an hour into this 80 minute match.

Excellent...

Aside from Messi’s half-chance, Barcelona had barely ventured into the Bayern half, let alone mounted a sustained period of pressure on Manuel Neuer’s goal. Forget about winning this match, would they even be able to register a single shot on target?

Certainly, if Barcelona were going to get a shot on goal, it appeared as though it would come from Lionel Messi’s left-boot while Bayern suspected the same thing – and it very nearly cost them their lead. Exchanging a one-two with Martin Montoya, Sergi Roberto broke free of the disciplined Bayern defense and nearly went down under a challenge from Jerome Boateng. There was relatively minimal contact in the "challenge", but it was enough to unsettle the young Catalan midfielder who subsequently missed the target with his off-balance finish.

At the other end, Adriano saved another possible Bayern goal with his second "goal-line" clearance of the night, although rather surprisingly it was Barcelona who finished the half as the stronger side. They may have been a goal down against a side deep into their pre-season preparations, but Barça were not going to give up on this game. Players like Cristian Tello and Alexis Sánchez had a lot to prove – not to mention a new manager to impress – and both finished the first-half on a high note. Tello cut inside Boateng before curling a trademark shot just wide of the post, and a dangerous Alexis Sánchez cross nearly created an unlikely equaliser, albeit thanks to a misjudged Rafinha "pass". Chesting the ball back towards goal, Rafinha’s blushes were fortunately spared by the frame of the goal.

All in all, Jordi Roura would have probably been pleased with the 0-1 scoreline. After all, virtually anything looked favourable compared to the UEFA Champions League semi-final.

Making full-use of his squad, Jordi Roura made eleven changes at the interval; Oier Olazábal was in goal, Kiko Femenia and Patric were on either side of defense, with Carles Planas and Sergi Gomez paired together at centre-half. Ilie filled in at pivote (ahead of Sergi Samper) with Javi Espinosa and Jordi Quintilla joining him in midfield, while Dani Nieto and Joan Angel Roman were positioned on the wings, with Jean-Marie Dongou completing the second-half XI.

Bayern Munich on the other hand opted to keep the majority of their starters on the field. Manuel Neuer, Arjen Robben and Thomas Müller made way for Guardiola’s team, but at least they were replaced by Tom Starke, Xherdan Shaqiri and Mario Mandzukic. Just how could the Barça B team compete with the reigning European Champions?

Thankfully, the Bayern squad appeared to "take it easy" on their young opposition, who may have been lacking in experience, but more than made up for it with fighting spirit. Even against the all-conquering Bayern Munich, the kids stayed true to their ideals – passed the ball around, even in defense, and tried to commit players forward whenever possible. There were a few scary moments – Thiago was left alone in the centre of the area, but couldn’t climb high enough to direct a header at goal, while Oier was called upon a few times to keep the scoreline down. Somehow, we reached the 70 minute mark without conceding another goal – so Bayern brought on a few more stars.

Bastian Schweinsteiger, Diego Contento and Jan Kirchhoff entered the fray for Franck Ribery, Toni Kroos and Jerome Boateng – joining earlier substitutes Luiz Gustavo and Daniel Van Buyten, who replaced Philipp Lahm and Dante respectively. By this point in the match, neither side seemed particularly concerned with scoring another goal; Barcelona were content to keep possession, and generally work hard (led by the enthusiasm of Dongou, who was displaying a fantastic work ethic in the centre of attack) while Bayern were just going through the motions – leaving something in the tank ahead of their German Super Cup clash with Borussia Dortmund.

In a sense, it was a relatively similar scene to that of the UEFA Champions League semi-final – Barcelona were edging the possession stakes, but creating nothing of note with the ball. Could they push the tempo and perhaps steal an equaliser against their almost complacent hosts?

Unfortunately not.

With the match drawing to a close, Bayern pushed forward once more and secured their win in the process, as Mario Mandzukic converted a low cross to guarantee a seventh win from seven for Bayern Munich in this pre-season. Barcelona may have lost, but will be encouraged by their performance in this match, particularly in the second-half as an inexperienced team held their own against the current European Champions.

Next up, Barcelona travel to Oslo, were they will face Valerenga on Saturday evening, possibly with new coach Gerardo Martino in charge. Until then, Visca el Barça!

Note: Only the first-team players are listed in the Player Ratings form – and the B team players (i.e. the second-half line-up minus Oier Olazábal) are lumped into one "category"


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