Passing it on the goal-line: Guardiola must learn his lesson after risking Man Utd humiliation

The Bavarians played out a dour 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in a match characterised by the away side’s reluctance to mix up their play with crosses and direct passes

By Enis Koylu

When the Champions League quarter-finals were drawn, the standout tie was undoubtedly Bayern Munich’s clash with Manchester United. One side was staggering from crisis to crisis – from disheartening defeat to disheartening defeat – the other on the verge of wrapping up the domestic title in record time.

Yet, with the first leg at Old Trafford completed, the two teams stand at eye level – the Bavarians needing Bastian Schweinsteiger to cancel out Nemanja Vidic’s second half opener.

Sure, David Moyes’ men produced a spirited performance to frustrate the European champions, defending stoically and attacking with intent, but Pep Guardiola’s men have no one to blame but themselves after an underpar display.

The first half began in customary fashion. Bayern have often been slow starters this season, taking time to get into games before killing off their opponents, but as time wore on they began to take control, stroking the ball about in the United half with noticeable ease.

Except that’s just about all they did before the break. Bayern bossed possession, having control of the ball for 78% of the opening period, but did precious little with their dominance. Indeed, the best chance before half-time fell to the hosts, but Danny Welbeck fluffed his lines when clean through.

For all of their territorial domination, the closest the Bavarians came to breaking the deadlock was a rare long-range punt from Arjen Robben, which had David de Gea scrambling across his goalline. It was their only shot on target.

German Efficiency? | Slack marking sees Vidic head United in front

The second half began in much the same fashion, except this time, United inflicted some damage. A corner was whipped in from the left wing and Vidic beat his man to arch a header into the net.

The goal sparked Bayern into life. Guardiola reacted immediately, introducing the more direct Mario Mandzukic and the Croat’s influence was almost immediate as he produced a great knock down for Bastian Schweinsteiger to equalise. Upset averted.

But the Old Trafford encounter leaves you wondering whether Bayern are right in pursuing a slow, patient passing game. They produced precious little bite prior to falling behind and their insistence on playing the ball out of defence saw them exposed on more than one occasion.

Against better opposition, they would have been punished more severely and had United not been in a dreadful run of form, they could be staring at Champions League elimination.

As it stands, they will still probably progress to the next round, even without suspended duo Javi Martinez and Schweinsteiger, and should have more than enough to see off a shoddy United team.

But they could be home and hosed already. Bayern have been accused of wasting possession from all quarters this season. In the wake of the 1-1 draw with Arsenal in the last round, Franz Beckenbauer claimed that the Bavarians would become “unwatchable like Barcelona” and would be “passing it backwards on the goal-line.”

After the first-leg of the last-16 clash, where Bayern saw off the 10-man Gunners 2-0, Arsene Wenger was adamant that the team he had faced at the same stage last year was better, arguing “even though we were playing with 10 players, they didn’t really create an awful lot.”

Guardiola’s final season at Barcelona ended with failure in both the Champions League and La Liga thanks to what then Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho dubbed “sterile possession”. Tuesday night’s slack showing in Manchester must serve as a gentle lesson that he must rein back this approach to avoid falling short with the German champions.

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Manchester United 1-1 Bayern Munich: Schweinsteiger hands holders the advantage despite late dismissal

Bastian Schweinsteiger scored a vital away goal as Bayern Munich drew 1-1 with Manchester United at Old Trafford on Tuesday night, and was later sent off.

Nemanja Vidic opened the scoring with a brilliant second-half header but United’s shock lead lasted just eight minutes, with Schweinsteiger’s crisp volley soon levelling proceedings.

The Germany international would not finish the game, however, as he shown a second yellow card late on after a rash challenge on Wayne Rooney.

He will, therefore, miss the second leg on April 9, along with his defensive team-mate Javi Martinez, who picked up a booking of his own for a cynical foul on Javier Hernandez.

More to follow…

Bayern's success down to weak Bundesliga rivals, claims Basler

The former Roten midfielder feels sides such as Borussia Dortmund surrendered their league challenge too meekly this season but admits Pep Guardiola’s team is “outstanding”

Mario Basler believes that Bayern Munich’s dominance in the Bundesliga is largely down to the weaknesses of their domestic rivals.

Bayern won their 24th title in record time after beating Hertha Berlin 3-1 last week and they have not suffered a Bundesliga defeat in 18 months, and while he acknowledges the “outstanding” team at Pep Guardiola’s disposal, Basler believes too many top sides in Germany are lagging behind the champions.

“Seeing as Borussia Dortmund have lost seven matches this season, it’s partly down to the weaknesses of their rivals,” Basler told on reflection of Bayern’s season.

“Bayern have an outstanding team and win all their games, while the others are lagging behind.

“If you lose seven matches and draw several other games – like Dortmund did against Schalke recently – Bayern will dominate because they win the majority of theirs.”

The 45-year-old, who played for die Roten from 1996-1999, has also claimed that the German outfit have every chance of repeating their treble feat from last season.

“I don’t think they’re going to lose many more this season. They will maintain their level of performance and finish the season strongly,” he added.

“I think Bayern are capable of winning the treble again.”

Bayern Munich face Manchester United in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie on Tuesday.

Manchester United need to be 'realistic' about beating Bayern, says Neville

The former Red Devils captain says the club should be “hopeful rather than confident” as they prepare to take on Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering Bundesliga champions

Manchester United need to be “realistic” about their hopes of beating Bayern Munich over two legs, according to former captain Gary Neville.

The Premier League champions take on Bundesliga winners and Champions League holders Bayern in the first leg of their quarter-final tie at Old Trafford on Tuesday, with the Germans the clear favourites to progress.

Pep Guardiola’s side have only lost once in all competitions this season, to Manchester City in December, and they arrive in England a week after securing their 24th domestic title.

Neville admits that facing Bayern will not be easy for an inconsistent United side, who have struggled this season under new boss David Moyes, and he has warned the fans not to expect too much.

“I’d say, going into this game, we’re hopeful rather than confident,” the former right-back said in United’s matchday programme.

“That’s just being realistic – Bayern are at the absolute top of their game.

“You’re talking about a team at the absolute peak of its powers, while Manchester United is in transition.

“There’s no avoiding the fact that this is the toughest draw United could have faced.”

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Only Real Madrid and Barcelona can challenge Bayern, claims Dominguez

The defender is confident the Bundesliga champions can repeat their treble success from last season and believes Atletico Madrid can triumph over Gerardo Martino’s men

Borussia Monchengladbach defender Alvaro Dominguez believes that fellow Bundesliga side Bayern Munich are the best team in Europe and have the quality to win the treble again this season.

Bayern won the Bundesliga title in record time after beating Hertha Berlin 3-1 last week and Dominguez believes that only Real Madrid or Barcelona can challenge die Roten for the Champions League trophy this term.

“Bayern are now the best team in Europe,” Dominguez exclusively told Goal. “It’s hard to stand up unless you are Real Madrid or Barcelona. Last year they won league, cup and Champions League very easily and this year they are on the same path.”

The 24-year-old has also been impressed by Liga leaders Atletico Madrid this season – the club where he began his career – and believes they have the quality to edge out Barca in their quarter-final showdown.

“I see Barcelona as the favourites, but not too much the favourites, really,” Dominguez said. “Perhaps, they are only favourites because of their international experience, but do not rule out Atletico. They compete very well.

“Atletico are having a great season. Simeone is a great coach and he is showing it. I wish I could have played in this Atletico team.”

Dominguez was also critical of Borussia Dortmund and has claimed that failure to replace Mario Gotze and the injured Ilkay Gundogan has resulted in a disappointing season for Jurgen Klopp’s team.

“They haven’t managed to replace Mario Gotze or Ilkay Gundogan, who gave the game fluency,” he said, before claiming that the Robert Lewandowski’s suspension could cost BVB dearly against Real Madrid.

“The absence of Lewandowski in the first leg will also be noted by Real Madrid. With six or seven important players missing, the team has to notice that they are not the same.”