Created on 02-03-2009 at 00:00 AM
In sports such as ice hockey or handball, sendings-off and sin-binnings dramatically alter the balance of play. The depleted team often concedes, and rarely scores a goal of its own. By contrast, a numerical advantage in football frequently brings no discernible benefit. Sunday’s meeting between last season’s runners-up Werder Bremen and champions Bayern provided another case in point.
After Bremen defender Naldo’s early dismissal, Munich spent 75 minutes playing against ten men, but ultimately proved unable to win the match. “Games like that are always tough,” FCB manager Uli Hoeneß mused after the goalless draw at the Weser stadium. “The players are subconsciously thinking: They’re down to ten, we had a hard match in Lisbon and a long journey. At some point, your reserves of energy give out. At some point, you start thinking: We just mustn’t concede. It sounds ridiculous, but that’s the way it is.”