Arjen Robben seems to be getting better with age. The Dutch international harassed the United defence for 90 minutes with nothing to show for it in the first leg and after some trash talk mid-week, he picked up where he left off on Wednesday night. The former Chelsea winger made Patrice Evra’s night one to remember with his dangerous attacking forays as he got in behind the experienced Frenchman time after time – and then a couple of more times after that! Robben scored the decisive goal at Old Trafford when Bayern edged past United on aggregate in their last-eight meeting in 2010. And he came up with a crucial strike again as he raced across the front of the United area and found the end product that he had missed out on last week – and how his game deserved it!
Tonight, the Bavarians resorted to all-out-attack. Picture yourself in Football Manager’s setting menu, and you’re entering into the final minute of the Champions League final and the team that you have brought to the brink of European glory from the Conference are one goal down. What do you do? Well, Bayern manager Pep Guardiola threw the shackles off his side in the second leg as he pushed everyone forward. Germany number one Manuel Neuer was often the only player in Bayern half as the two full-backs drove at United, moving into a centre-midfield role. Even the centre-halves tried their luck! That’s what you do in Football Manager, not in reality. But it worked so who can judge Mr Guardiola and his tiki-taka!
Ahead of the second leg, the critics cited Bayern’s previous losses to English sides at the Allianz Arena as a weakness that United needed to exploit. That never materialised, however , as David Moyes’ men never looked likely to cause an upset. Prior to this, Munich had lost four games from 19 at home in the Champions League and Bayern goalkeeper Neuer didn’t have to make his first save until 10 minutes after half-time. Even with their ultra-attacking formation, Bayern never looked weak in defence. Their only blotch was a wonder strike from Patrice Evra before Mario Mandzukic, Thomas Mueller and Robben sealed their progression.
Even with a loss to Augsburg last weekend and a three-game winless run, Bayern are on the brink of the most unprecedented of seasons. Five trophies is a very real possibility – and with the Uefa Super Cup, Club World Cup and the Bundesliga already in the bag, who would bet against them? The fans demand success from the so-called ‘Hollywood FC’ and if they were to fulfil their destiny they would in turn become the first team to retain the Champions League since its inception in 1992. Not only that but Gaurdiola’s troops can become the only side to do the treble in successive years in German football.
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