FCB bow out of Europe with heads held high
It is no surprise that heads were down as the Bayern team walked into their post-match banquet following the Champions League semi-final second leg in Madrid. However, the deserved applause for Jupp Heynckes’ team from the guests present was genuine. For long parts of the match, FCB played Real Madrid off the park with their selfless sense of fight, passion and especially “a super performance” (Heynckes).
“This was the best Champions League game I’ve seen with Bayern Munich in the last five years,” said chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge at the start of his speech. “It was an advert for FC Bayern,” enthused sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic. Unfortunately, however, the Reds were not rewarded for their efforts. The 2-2 draw at the Bernabeu was not enough for FCB following the 2-1 loss in Munich, meaning the semi-final was the end of the line for this season with just one more goal needed for a place in the Kyiv final.
Just like the first leg
The Bavarians could have had so much more from the game. FCB needed at least two goals in Madrid and did everything they could for that from the very first whistle. Indeed, it took Joshua Kimmich, who also scored in the previous meeting, just three minutes to find the back of the net again and put the visitors ahead. However, Real struck back twice through Karim Benzema either side of half-time. The second of which was made possible by a defensive error by Bayern – just like in the first leg.
However, there was no chance of Thomas Müller & Co. giving up. “My team showed amazing morale. We gave ourselves a quick shake and then got back into the flow of the game,” said Heynckes in praise of his team. The match was played predominantly in the direction of the goal of Kaylor Navas. The result was countless chances for Bayern and a more than deserved equaliser from James Rodriguez against his parent club. But the ball just did not want to go in for a third despite continued efforts. It was either blocked at the last second by a desperate Real defender or the goalkeeper produced a good save. “Navas was outstanding. The best Madrid player,” Heynckes acknowledged.
“We had the best team in Europe on the brink,” Rummenigge added, stressing the chance FCB had to knock out the defending champions. With 60 per cent possession and 22-9 shots in Bayern’s favour, the visitors were clearly in the supremacy. “We put everything in, but it wasn’t to be. It was possible, but in the end we were just missing that little bit of luck,” bemoaned Müller. Add to that the fact that “five absolutely world-class players”, according to Heynckes, were missing in the shape of Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Arturo Vidal, Kingsley Coman and Arjen Robben, then the performance can be seen as even greater than it was.
Win the double
“We’ll need a few days now,” the captain admitted. And the Munich club can afford that time with the next match at Cologne not until Saturday. The visit to the Cathedral City is about switching back on and pushing for the season’s last big objective. “We still have the DFB Cup final in Berlin. It’s now our aim to win the double and see out the season as it should be,” said Rummenigge looking forward.
With a similar performance to what they showed in Madrid, Bayern should be able to add another title to their collection when they travel to the capital and sound a warning for the new season. “We’ll be dangerous for every team next year,” said a pugnacious Mats Hummels. It is this attitude that makes FC Bayern so strong.