A fantastic brace by Thiago Alcantara ensured that FC Barcelona won the 2011 Audi Cup, at the expense of the hosts Bayern Munich. The first a header, and the second a curling effort from 25 yards out. It was an average game, lit up with moments of brilliance by FC Barcelona's golden boy, Thiago.
Despite my pre-match doom and gloom, FC Barcelona fielded a strong side, as Bayern made nine changes from the match yesterday, while Barca made changes, but ones that improved the team.
It was evident from the get-go that Bayern were content to sit back, absorb pressure, and look to launch the counter, which made for a tentative first half, where neither side really committed to the attack. Barcelona dominated possession, while Bayern watched.
That’s not to say they didn’t create chances. The counter-attack was not working brilliantly, as the final pass was often lacking, but Usami in particular was causing Barca problems. His ability to do the unexpected was working to his advantage, but while he would beat the defender, his teammates were not on the same page very often, meaning his efforts were mostly in vein.
However, he did carve out a one-on-one opportunity for young David Alaba, but the midfielder was let down by poor finishing and equally as poor decision making.
The Blaugrana had worked half-chances, but the first chance came to Thiago, with a looping cross to the back post, and Thiago headed home, making it 1-0 to Barcelona.
An uninspiring first half, but as Barca were ahead, I was happy.
Second half, Bayern started to bring out the big guns, as Schweinsteiger, Muller, Kroos and Gomez all made appearances, but the main theme of the first half remained, Barcelona were in control.
As with the first half, Bayern had half-chances, through Petersen, Gustavo and others, but did not really threaten, while Barcelona made their chances count. I say FC Barcelona, but really I mean Thiago. He picked up a pass 25 yards from goal, and well, his finish was nothing short of perfection.
Que golazo, que jugador! Thiago Alcantara!
Thiago Alcantara Gol Bayern Munich Vs Barcelona 0-2 27-7-2011 Audi Cup Finals
With Xavi still struggling for fitness, Thiago is likely to start against Manchester United on Saturday. Never mind that his display versus Bayern has shown that there is a life after Xavi at FC Barcelona. With Thiago playing at such an exceptional level already, is Cesc Fabregas necessary?
Thiago taught a footballing lesson tonight at the Allianz Arena, with possession, and patience being key to victory. My pick for Man of the Match.
Allianz Arena: We will see you in May!
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