Benfica 0-2 Bayern Munich: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Renato Sanches Shines Against Former Club

Bayern Munich kicked off their European campaign with a comfortable 2-0 win over Portuguese giants S.L. Benfica in their opening Champions League match this season.

The Bavarians wasted no time in stamping their authority on the game, and former Benfica star Renato Sanches played a huge part in setting up the first goal inside the opening 10 minutes.

A marauding run from the midfielder freed up space down the left wing and when the ball was fired back across goal, Robert Lewandowski kept which cool inside the area before firing past Champions League debutant Odisseas Vlachodimos.

SL Benfica v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Group E

Despite not being able to keep the visitors at bay during the opening stages of the match, Benfica started to sure things up (or in some cases ride their luck) and were able to go into the break with just one goal separating the two sides.

However, Bayern Munich only took 10 minutes to find the back of the net after the restart. Sanches once again started the counter-attack with a powerful run, but while Lewandowski was the beneficiary in the first half, the Portugal international was on hand to score on his first return to the Estádio da Luz.

Serge Gnabry was denied his first goal for the club by the offside flag late in the first half, and although the German outfit weren’t able to kill off the match, Bayern Munich kept their composure and were able to see out a professional performance with the boost of a clean sheet.


Bayern Munich

Key Talking Point

Bayern Munich have an unchanged back four from last season, but the return of Manuel Neuer has completely transformed how opponents attack the Bavarian side – despite the fact he had a handful of nervous moments on Wednesday.

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With Sven Ulreich in between the sticks, a one or two goal lead never felt like enough for former manager Jupp Heynckes last season, and teams often came up against Bayern Munich knowing that they could find the back of the net with relative ease.

But having conceded just two goals this season – one from the penalty spot and the other from open play – the reigning Bundesliga champions appear to be back to their resilient best, and will undoubtedly be a much stronger force in the Champions League during the 2018/19 campaign.


Player Ratings

Neuer (7) Kimmich (6) Boateng (8) Hummels (8) Alaba (7) Martinez (6) Sanches (9*) Robben (7) James (6) Ribéry (7) Lewandowski (9).

SL Benfica v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Group E

Substitutes: Gnabry (7) Goretzka (6) Müller (N/A)


Star Man

Renato Sanches’ decision to run around like a child who has just had a major sugar fix at the infamous Estádio da Luz didn’t go down well with all of Bayern Munich’s fanbase, but the Portugal international was the driving force in their midfield on Wednesday.

Just months after being relegated during a loan spell with Swansea City, and 410 days on from his last appearances for Bayern Munich, Sanches took the bull by the horns during his return to Lisbon, repaying the faith shown by manager Niko Kova?, who had put his neck on the line by starting the young midfielder.



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Having played a vital part in Bayern Munich’s opening goal, the midfielder started and then finished a brilliant move to double their lead in Lisbon, scoring his first ever goal for the club back at his old stomping ground.


Worst Player

This one’s a toss-up between Joshua Kimmich and Javi Martinez, but through no real fault of their own. The two defensive players had largely quiet games (that’s usually a good thing) on Wednesday but neither went out of their way to make a mark.

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In Kimmich’s case specifically, Benfica’s biggest attacking threat came down his side of the pitch, primarily through Argentine winger Franco Cervi. In all honesty, however, the versatile full back didn’t really put a foot wrong in Portugal,


S.L. Benfica

Player Ratings

Vlachodimos (7) Almeida (6) Dias (7) Jardel (6) Grimaldo (7) Fernandes (7) Fejsa (6) Pizzi (5) Salvio (6) Cervi (7) Seferovi? (6).

Substitutes: Gabriel (6) Rafa (6) Živkovi? (6).

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Looking Ahead

Bayern Munich can extend their perfect record this season when they travel to last year’s runners-up, Schalke 04. The Royal Blues are yet to pick up a point in the Bundesliga this season, although Domenico Tedesco’s side were able to secure a draw against Porto in midweek.

Portuguese giants Benfica meanwhile will host C.D. Aves at the Estádio da Luz this weekend, with the Eagles next heavyweight clash in Liga NOS not coming until December.

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Not Too Xabi! Rating 7 Bayern Munich Stars in Lederhosen Ahead of This Year’s Oktoberfest

For over 200 years, the German city of Munich has been the epicentre for Oktoberfest celebrations across the world. The Bavarian celebration, which includes a funfair and limitless amounts of beer served in traditional steins, has seen many Bayern Munich stars join in with the festivities over the years.

The Reds’ annual Oktoberfest get-together allows the club’s biggest names to show off their style in lederhosen, something which has provided fans with more than a few laughs over the years.

Despite having a core of German – and in many cases Bavarian – players who should now be accustomed to wearing lederhosen, no-one has pulled off the traditional garb to quite the affect of former midfield great Xabi Alonso.

So, using the classy Basque as a yard stick, here’s a look at seven Bayern Munich stars who’ve looked the best and worst during Oktoberfest over the years, ahead of this year’s celebrations which begin on September 22…

1. Xabi Alonso – 2016

What better place to start than with the man himself, Xabi Alonso. 

Despite only spending three years at Bayern Munich before making the decision to hang up his boots for good, the World Cup and two times Champions League winner is undoubtedly the club’s Oktoberfest MVP. 

Wunderbar.

Rating: 5 Xabi Alonso’s out of 5.

2. David Alaba – 2017

Interestingly, the use of lederhosen as common workwear in Bavaria spread across the Alpine regions of Europe, and they even found their way into Austria.

It is perhaps for that historical reason that defender David Alaba stole the show in 2016 at Bayern Munich’s visit to Oktoberfest, especially as the 26-year-old also wore a matching tweed jacket.

Rating: 4 Xabi Alonso’s out of 5.

3. Thomas Müller – 2016

It wouldn’t be a Bayern Munich list, let alone a Bavarian list, without a special mention of Thomas Müller. The Germany international first joined the Reds in 2000 after spending seven years with TSV Pähl, and he has gone on to make 444 appearances for the club across all competitions.

Just because of Müller’s inate Bavarian-ness alone, the 28-year-old finds himself fairly high up on this list.

Rating: 4 Xabi Alonso’s out of 5.

4. Arjen Robben – 2016

What a lot of fans might not know is that Arjen Robben’s affiliation with Bayern Munich first started at the same time that Oktoberfest was introduced in Bavaria, back in 1810.

The veteran winger looks just as uncomfortable wearing a lederhosen as fans do whilst looking at him wearing it, and his style back in 2016 looks awfully similar to a young family member who has just raided the reduced suit section at Tesco for a last minute wedding purchase.

Rating: 2 Xabi Alonso’s out of 5.

5. Douglas Costa – 2015

I take it Douglas Costa didn’t get the memo that a Fedora isn’t part of the traditional Oktoberfest look.

It could be at the flip of a coin in this picture as to whether the Brazil international is at an Oktoberfest celebration with his teammates, or if he’s standing with some alternative music producers having just released his second album.

Rating: 2 Xabi Alonso’s out of 5.

6. Mario Götze – 2015

Someone’s been spending too much time with Douglas Costa.

It’s one thing for a South American flair player to rock up once a year in Bavaria wearing lederhosen and also paying tribute to Frank Sinatra with the headgear, but from Germany’s World Cup winner Mario Götze… it’s no wonder he was sold later that season.

What makes things even worse is that Götze’s hat actually made him look more like a cross between Indiana Jones and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. Let’s not get started on that cardigan either.

Sehr schlecht!

Rating: 1 Xabi Alonso’s out of 5.

7. Javi Martínez – 2012

Javi Martínez certainly let the side down when, just six weeks into his career at Bayern Munich, the former Athletic Club star rocked up to Oktoberfest looking like this.

In his defence, the picnic blanket styled shirt is hardly a dapper look on any of the Bayern players, especially given that it was meant to be Oktoberfest after all, but his decision to wear that jacket hasn’t helped Martínez’s cause.

Fans of the experienced midfielder will be pleased to know that Martínez has certainly stepped up his game in recent years, but the 30-year-old should be haunted by his Oktoberfest efforts in 2012.

Rating: 0 Xabi Alonso’s out of 5.

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?Arjen Robben Insists He Wants to Continue Playing ‘for a Long Time’ as Discusses His Own Longevity

Bayern Munich star ?Arjen Robben insists there is plenty of life left in him at the top level despite turning 34-years-old earlier this year. 

The attacking star has been a key figure for the ?Bavarian giants in the early goings of the season, having been restored to the starting lineup for the last two of the club’s league games.

In that time he has notched two goals to take his club tally to 140, and continued to defy all outside expectation over his ability to make an impact in what many see as the latter stage of his prolific career. 

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However, Robben has revealed he has kept it simple this season. The simple enjoyment of playing has given him a new lease of life as he aims to make a significant contribution for his side at every opportune moment this season. 

“I always give everything. If I don’t play, I always try to go pedal to the floor when I come in,” Robben told ?bundesliga.com. 

“It’ll happen a lot more, but it’s important to give everything and be important for the team when you’re on the pitch.

“I’m 34 now, and I just try to enjoy every moment. Sometimes it hits you how lucky you are to be able to play here, at a sold-out Allianz Arena. You just have to enjoy it. I don’t know how long it’ll last, but I don’t feel like I’m 34 right now. 

“I feel very, very fit. Hopefully it’ll stay that way for a long time. Then I can enjoy playing. I always try to do that. Then you can be successful.”

While Robben is enjoying the start to the campaign, so is new manager Niko Kovac having overseen an undefeated start to life at the Allianz Arena. 

And when asked about the eighth manager to oversee the club since he joined in 2009, Robben added: “Every coach has his own style, but I wouldn’t say he’s matey. He’s the coach, he’s the boss – he makes the decisions. 

“Sometimes he comes across as relaxed. He tries to get along with all the players and build a good relationship with them. That’s important, but it’s not easy. 

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“To me it’s like he’s still a player. He’s very ambitious and takes things seriously. He really values the physical aspect of the game, we all noticed that in pre-season. He knows what we need in order to be successful.

“I like his approach, especially his people skills. He’s honest. He says when something is good and also if something isn’t. That’s why he’s not really matey because he has to address the bad things.”

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3 Key Battles That Could Decide Bayern Munich’s Champions League Clash With Benfica on Wednesday

Bayern Munich face a trip west to face Portuguese giants Benfica 

Never an easy place to go, the Estadio da Luz will be packed to the rafters. However, Die Roten are used to playing in intimidating atmospheres and should have their minds firmly set on claiming all three points.

A seventh game in 22 days for Bayern, Niko Kovac may opt to rotate his squad. Although, with so many injuries it’s likely he will want to get off to a good start in this year’s Champions League.

Here’s three battles that could decide the outcome of this match up:

1. Thomas Muller vs. Ljubomir Fejsa

Facing off against Benfica’s defensive midfielder will be Thomas Muller; a player who has started the season in impressive fashion. 

An intriguing clash, it will be interesting to see whether Ljubomir Fejsa man marks him throughout, or if boss Rui Vitoria prefers to adopt a zonal style. With Muller’s intelligence to drift into space a regular occurrence, any result for the home side will have meant their Serbian has earned his pay.

2. Eduardo Salvio vs. David Alaba

With Benfica since his 2012 transfer from Atletico Madrid, Eduardo Salvio has become a mainstay on the Aguias’ right flank. Combining pace and flair, the Argentine winger has also notched up 33 goals while turning out in Portugal.  

Battling against him will be David Alaba. The Austrian fullback been at Die Roten’s since 2008, and would no doubt love to get his hands on his second UEFA Champions League trophy. 

3. Pizzi vs. Javi Martinez

Luis Miguel Afonso Fernandes – better known as Pizzi – was one of Benfica’s key men in the domestic treble winning season of 2016/17. Impressing club and national coaches alike, his recent performances have resulted in a continued selection. If Encarnados are to progress into the last 16 phase, the Portuguese playmaker will need to put in a big effort.

An opening game spar with Bayern’s imposing midfielder Javi Martinez would strike fear into most, as technical mastery meets physical dominance. It should be compelling to watch how this one pans out, as each player has the ability to offer more than their allotted roles. 

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Benfica vs Bayern Preview: Classic Encounter, Key Battle, Team News, Prediction & More

?Facing Benfica in the Estadio da Luz on Wednesday, ?Bayern Munich kick off their Group E campaign looking for a first Champions League triumph since 2013.

The five-time European champions have been in good form domestically, and are the only team to take a maximum nine points from nine possible in this season’s ?Bundesliga. 

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Die Roten’s opponents also are atop of their division, with Benfica collecting three wins from four games. The only points dropped so far were in the Derby de Lisboa, with Joao Felix’s late equaliser cancelling out Nani’s earlier penalty. 

Encarnados last lifted club football’s greatest honour way back in 1962, doubling down on the success only a year prior. Since then, Benfica had a horror show in finals, losing eight in a row. 


Classic Encounter

Benfica 2-2 Bayern Munich (Champions League Quarter-Final 2015/16) 

After a narrow 1-0 win in Germany, Bayern Munich travelled to Portugal with work still to do if they were to guarantee a spot in the final four. 

Managed by Pep Guardiola, it’s possible that Die Roten walked in to Lisbon thinking their talent alone would make for an easy day at the office. However, Benfica were in no mood to go down without a fight. 

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An early goal from Raul Jimenez had the aggregate score tied up, before Arturo Vidal’s leveller meant that Benfica now needed to win by two due to the away goals rule.  

Unfortunately for Benfica, Thomas Muller gave Bayern the lead seven minutes into the second period, and even though Anderson Talisca gave them hope, there was just too much left to do.

Munich would go on to get knocked out in the next stage by ?Atletico Madrid, ending their hopes of winning a second title in three years. 


Key Battle

Ljubomir Fejsa vs Thomas Muller

Patrolling the midfield half space in front of his back line will be Serbian battler Ljubomir Fejsa. With Benfica since 2013, the ball winner has played in many a Champions League game.

Up against enigmatic Raumdeuter Muller, a man who describes himself as ‘a translator of space’, Fejsa may find the German’s game hard to monitor. Neither blessed with speed or physicality, the goal scoring record of Bayern’s number 25 is highly perplexing. 

FC Bayern Muenchen  v  SL Benfica - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: First Leg

Of all the cliches to describe his play, the one that best defines his style on the pitch has to be that you watch the game and you don’t see Muller, but watch Muller and you see the game. 

Operating off his forward Robert Lewandowski, the former World Cup winner won’t just play in the hole. Drifting into the areas his other teammates either leave or create, it is to be one incredible test of character for Fejsa.


Team News

Benfica’s coach Rui Vitoria has problems to deal with, as a few of his key men are unable to take the field for this one. Jonas’ back injury has had him sidelined all season, while Sebastien Corchia’s knee problem has resulted in a month out. Croat Filip Krovinovic suffered a terrible cruciate ligament rupture in January, and still has a long way to go before he’s 100%. 

Bayern and Niko Kovac are facing somewhat of an injury crisis at the moment as well, as five players are likely to miss the starting eleven for their match against Benfica. Definitely out are Corentin Tolisso and Rafinha, who both picked up serious ligament damage this weekend.

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Franck Ribery and Leon Goretzka have travelled with the squad but are likely to be game time decisions, with the prior suffering from a stomach bug and the latter picking up a knock in training.

Kingsley Coman is still on the sidelines after suffering an ankle problem in their Bundesliga opener. This leaves opportunities in midfield, with the likes of Renato Sanches, Thiago Alcantara, Serge Gnabry and James Rodriguez all pushing for a starting role. 


Potential Benfica Lineup (4-1-4-1): Vlachodimos; Almeida, Jardel, Dias, Grimaldo; Fejsa; Salvio, Fernandes, Pizzi, Cervi; Seferovic.

Potential Bayern Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels, Alaba; Martinez, Sanches; Robben, Muller, James; Lewandowski.


Prediction

Home advantage could play a part in this match, however it’s likely that the powerhouse of Bayern Munich find a way to take home all three points.

Battling with Ajax for second position, Benfica will look to a double header against the Dutchmen as their real test. If they can snatch anything from the probable group winners, then that can only be seen as an unexpected bonus.

Benfica 1-3 Bayern Munich

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