Home » Champ League, Latest » CL Match Report: Man City 1 Bayern Munich 3

This was not just a defeat; this was a lesson for Manchester City and Joe Hart. This was also total football at speed from Bayern Munich, who have even moved up a gear from their Champions League-winning pomp.

Bayern’s new coach, Pep Guardiola, continues to reinvent the game, introducing even greater fluidity, variety and venom into the champions of Europe. This was a masterclass for an hour.

City made mistakes, individually by Hart for two of the goals, and also by their experienced coach, Manuel Pellegrini, who failed to react until late on to Bayern’s superiority in numbers and class in midfield. As Micah Richards remarked afterwards, it felt like Bayern had an extra man. An extra dimension too.

Guardiola’s tactics demanded non-stop pressing and moving not witnessed in the Premier League. His wide players, Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben, stretched City but also sped inside. Both scored. Thomas Müller was Guardiola’s nominal centre-forward, the falsche Neun, who darted around, completely confusing City’s defence. He also scored.

Bayern maintained a phenomenal tempo for an hour, hunting in packs, winning the ball back and resembling the red arrows as they poured forward. Philipp Lahm, such an intelligent, versatile footballer, controlled midfield: one of the world’s best full-backs (left or right) is now one of the world’s best holding midfielders.

This tactical switch to 4-1-4-1 has proved a success by Guardiola, as has his encouragement of the centre-backs, particularly Dante, to look for the early pass. Guardiola writes another chapter in the book of enlightened tactics (foreword by Johan Cruyff).

Bayern’s football and Guardiola’s superlative coaching deserve celebrating, and many City fans sportingly stayed behind afterwards to salute the victors, but it is impossible to avoid an inquest into Hart’s goalkeeping.

After seven minutes, Rafinha broke down the right and then switched play, picking out Ribéry, whose control was instant. He touched the ball slightly crossfield, exploiting City’s failure to close him down, before shooting hard from 25 yards.

Hart dived to his right, stretching out his right hand which made contact but was too weak to divert the ball which continued into the net. It was a powerful strike by Ribéry but the look on Hart’s face indicated his frustration with himself.

Hart has been caught out before this season, notably when James Morrison struck from range for Scotland at Wembley and also failing to intercept a corner against Cardiff City, gifting Fraizer Campbell his first.

The list is lengthening, against Sunderland’s Adam Johnson at the near post, mistakes that led to goals for Jason Puncheon and Steven Davis at Southampton, and Tranquillo Barnetta’s free-kick for Switzerland that curled in at the near-post.

At 1.30 pm today, Roy Hodgson announces his England squad to face Montenegro and Poland and by 1.31 pm he will have been asked about Hart. By 1.32, Hodgson will have confirmed that Hart remains his No 1.

Norwich City’s reliable John Ruddy and Fraser Forster, for all his good form for Celtic, have too little international experience to start in such tense World Cup qualifiers.

Hart was at fault but it also needs remembering that he was magnificent the last time German opposition visited the Etihad; he defied Robert Lewandowski of Borussia Dortmund with a series of saves in October 2012.

He was given little protection. Richards was making only his second start of the season and his lack of understanding with Jesús Navas showed. It had been a gamble by Pellegrini leaving the reliable Pablo Zabaleta on the bench. Ribéry and David Alaba kept pushing on, the Austrian soon creating a chance for Arjen Robben, who headed wide.

City’s official twitter feed had been in cautious if prescient mood beforehand, posting: “it’s rare we’re underdogs, particularly at home, but Bayern are formidable and we’ll need huge performances across the park”. They didn’t get them in the first half but then City hardly got the ball. Bayern had possession for 75 per cent of the first half.

Bayern continued to prosper down the left. Ribéry beat Richards and whipped in a low cross that Matija Nastasic cleared. Ribéry then sent Alaba into space behind Richards, Hart saved Alaba’s shot and caught the rebound off Nastasic.

The half finished scrappily after Sergio Agüero trod on Rafinha, Toni Kroos baulked Navas and Fernandinho slid in to challenge Kroos.

The lesson resumed after the break. When Dante angled another ball forward, Gaël Clichy totally switched off and failed to follow Müller, who ran on, took two touches to take the ball round Hart before finishing with his left into the empty net. City’s marking was abject. Hart looked at Clichy.

It got worse. Kroos pressed Fernandinho into relinquishing possession on the halfway line and then swept the ball left-footed into the path of Robben. The Dutchman raced past Nastasic before beating Hart at the near-post. Hart slumped on the floor. He did rally, making good saves from Kroos, Müller and Ribéry before Müller hit a post.

James Milner’s arrival gave City some energy and the England international forced Manuel Neuer into a tip-over save.

David Silva’s introduction lent some subtlety of passing. One ball found another substitute, Álvaro Negredo, who turned away from Jerome Boateng, the former City defender, before a curling left-footed shot flew via the post past Neuer.

Boateng’s anguish deepened five minutes later when he was rightly dismissed for bringing down Yaya Touré, who was through on goal in pursuit of Silva’s pass. Silva took the free-kick, sending it left-footed over the wall but onto the bar. In a frantic ending, Milner hoisted in a cross and Negredo headed wide but it was soon over.

For all the gloom engendered by this defeat it needs remembering that this was City’s first loss at home in Europe since Midtjylland visited in August 2008.

If City can take four points from their away-and-home games with CSKA Moscow they will remain on course to follow Bayern through into the knock-out stages.

The day had also begun with a sign of hope for the future with Patrick Vieira’s Elite Development Squad thumping their Bayern counterparts 6-0 in the Uefa Youth League with the exciting 17-year-old, Marcos Lopes, scoring a hat-trick and the performance capped by fine solo goal from Devante Cole, son of Andy.

Later on, at night school, City’s current generation were taught a lesson.

Source: Telegraph

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