Bayern 2 Man City 3: Three talking points as Citizens rally to win
Bayern 2 Man City 3: Three talking points as the Citizens come from behind to beat the reigning champions in Munich
The night that Man City made Europe take notice
In 2012, Sergio Aguero’s title-winning goal forced England to sit up and take notice that Manchester City had evolved from Manchester United’s big-spending noisy neighbours into a real force of the domestic game. Consecutive feeble group-stage exits in this competition will have done little to convince the rest of the continent that they belong in the upper echelons of the European game. That changed tonight, despite having already sealed qualification, with a performance that was a blend of quality and determination. Not only did they manage to beat the best side in the world but they did so on their own turf and from two goals down. Bayern’s reputation got the better of City early on but once they started to take time on the ball and not panic in defence, they bested their opponents for large periods. Fernandinho was the epitome of this as he won the midfield battle against Toni Kroos. The Brazilian was supported by the likes of James Milner – who had one of his best games in a City shirt as he won the equalising penalty before scoring the winner – and the returning David Silva, who was superb. With great performances comes great responsibility and City have proved they can beat literally anyone on their day. A sincere quest for European glory starts here.
Perfect preparation for Arsenal game
Aside from missing out on topping the group, this was a perfect night for the Citizens. The result should have consequences that span the length and breadth of the season. Firstly, it should once and for all lay to rest City’s away-day demons and give them confidence that they are capable of picking points up on the road. Having secured one away win from their first six, they went to West Bromwich Albion and won before picking up a creditable draw at Southampton. This is icing on top of that cake and should ensure a permanent upturn in away results. Secondly, with qualification assured, Manuel Pellegrini – perhaps underestimating the quality of his squad, perhaps in a stroke of sheer genius – picked a team largely comprised of players who are unlikely to play against Arsenal. With the Gunners six points ahead of them in the Premier League, Saturday’s lunchtime encounter is their biggest game of the season. The likes of Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero will have had a full week to recover. By contrast, Arsenal do not have the luxury of guaranteed progression and will have to field a full-strength squad in Naples on Wednesday. Half of their dropped points have come in games following European ties. You have to wonder whether Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey et al. will be able to end City’s ruthless home streak with less than half the rest time. City will know from their Bavarian triumph though is that anything is possible.
Bayern still ‘certainties’ to retain their title?
Before Tuesday, when posed with the question ‘who will win the Champions League this season?’ your typical answer was that you could not look past the all-conquering reigning champions. Their deeply talented squad seemed destined to seal their place among history’s great teams with the world’s most prolific manager now at the helm. None were more confident than their own fans who laughed off the top teams from Spain and England as they converged on Manchester city centre in October. The Allianz Arena however was transformed from a boiling cauldron of noise into an assembly of confusion and doubt in the space of 65 whirlwind minutes. This result will not be season-defining on its own but their crown has been well and truly shaken. Streaks of 18 straight wins at home and 10 in European ties were brought crashing to a halt on Wednesday night. Teams will study this and see how they can expose this previously-invincible Bayern outfit. When they return from their quest to claim their fifth trophy of the year – the Club World Championship in Morocco – Pep Guardiola will need to have a serious think of how to ensure this result is a one-off.