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Cloud with silver lining

Bayern top group but have 'lessons to learn'

So, it’s back. That sense of dissatisfaction in the pit of the stomach, the feeling of unease and frustration swirling around the head. In a year as good as this, there’s a real danger you might forget. It’s the taste and feeling of defeat. It came back on Tuesday evening - and at first, it was bitterly hard to take. The players barely exchanged a word as they clapped each other round the shoulders after the match. Dante shook his head in apparent disbelief. Thomas Müller half-heartedly tried to start a post-match analysis out on the field. The 3-2 defeat to Manchester City will take a little while to get over.

“We could easily have won it,” summarised Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, pondering the oddity of the final score. After just 12 minutes Bayern were two up thanks to strikes from Müller (5) and Mario Götze (12) and had their opponents totally under control. Rummenigge compared City in the first 20 minutes to a “dazed boxer. But we forgot to deliver the knockout punch. And it came back to haunt us.“

David Silva (28), Aleksandar Kolarov (58) with a controversial penalty - “In my opinion it was nothing,” commented Dante - and James Milner (62) punished Munich’s carelessness and inflicted a fully avoidable defeat, their first since the German Super Cup Final in late July, and only the third of the calendar year. “We have to learn certain lessons from this. No game is over after 20 minutes, especially against opponents of this quality,” commented Rummenigge, “we have to hold up our hands and admit this much: we’ve thrown away a match we could and perhaps ought to have won.“

Uncharacteristic carelessness

“The normal human in all of us came to the surface. We were too casual,“ said Müller, reflecting on the point at which Bayern’s dominance evaporated. “We made a great start but let them back into it. We need to regain our utter desire to win.“ Franck Ribéry thought “we lost concentration after going 2-0 up, we applied much less attacking pressure and we made too many mistakes. Maybe we started thinking it was going to be easy.“

City clawed their way back into the contest and ended Munich’s record run of ten straight Champions League victories, also preventing FCB from setting a new club record of maximum points from six group stage games. “It’s a bit of a shame,” ventured Manuel Neuer, before pointing out “it wasn’t exactly a vital match.” Despite the defeat Bayern finished the group in first place. “The cloud has a silver lining,” summarised Rummenigge, “nothing bad happened. It’s still the fact that we’re first.“

Regrettable result

Pep Guardiola wondered if there might be a beneficial dimension to the evening: “Defeat is never good, but maybe the club, the coach and the team needed to lose as a reminder of how hard it is to win your matches.“ In this interpretation, it was a warning shot or alarm call - annoying, but “not painful” as Rummenigge observed.

“We’re top of the group but we’re sad about the result,” summarised Ribéry. The freshly crowned French Player of the Year called for a “reaction” when Munich face Hamburg on Saturday. “We must win and we’re determined to do so,” agreed Rummenigge, “because that’ll mean we’re definitely autumn champions regardless of results in the last round of matches.“ And it would also restore the more familiar sensations associated with winning in place of the frustrations of defeat.