Mon, 17/04/23, 16:00
The Bayern guide for a comeback against Man City
It’s a mammoth task of historic proportions that FC Bayern face on Wednesday night in the Champions League. Mammoth because it requires coming back from a 3-0 defeat in the first leg against Manchester City, one of the best teams in the world. Historic because even in the long and uniquely successful history of the German record champions, there’s not been a comparable comeback – yet!
“We know that stranger things have happened in football,” said Thomas Müller after the final whistle at the City of Manchester Stadium. The situation is obviously “difficult”, but “we’re keeping our heads up”. Müller and Co should be aware that if all the right things come together, a ‘miracle of Munich’ is possible. The individual pieces of the puzzle for it can absolutely be found in the history of FCB.
Early goal the foundation
If, for example, the Munich men manage to steer the game in the right direction early on, hopes of progression increase. And when it comes to early goals, Bayern are still the authority in Europe’s premier club competition. In March 2007, the Reds went into the second leg at home to Real Madrid trailing 3-2. Yet the hosts were determined from the outset to overturn the first-leg score and were rewarded. Straight from Madrid’s kick-off, current board member for sport Hasan Salihamidžić won the ball and quickly sent it on to Roy Makaay. The Dutchman made it 1-0 after just 10.12 seconds – still the fastest goal in the competition’s history. In the end, Bayern won 2-1 and qualified for the next round.
„The chances haven’t improved, but we know that stranger things have happened in football. We’re keeping our heads up.”
In the second leg of the last 16 last season, Bayern also exploded out of the starting blocks. A little over 22 minutes had been played when Robert Lewandowski brushed off the 1-1 draw in the first leg with the earliest hat-trick in UCL history. The Bavarians ran out 7-1 winners in the end and showed what’s possible when you really get going. Basel also experienced that in March 2012 when, after a 1-0 victory in the first leg in Switzerland, their hopes of the quarter-finals were crushed by a 7-0 hammering at the Allianz Arena.
The Allianz Arena factor
Playing in front of your own fans in the second leg is also a factor that should be cause for optimism on Wednesday. “We’re playing at home and will look for our chances,” declared Salihamidžić in Manchester. “Anything’s possible at the Allianz Arena,” said Leon Goretzka. The recent record supports this claim: Bayern have won 16 out of 18 Champions League home games since the start of the 2019/20 campaign, eight of them by a scoreline that would be enough for at least extra time on Wednesday. Plus: the Allianz Arena faithful have not yet seen a goal conceded in this UCL season – so the defensive basis is there.
‘Never give up!’
The high level of performance to which Bayern supporters can drive their team on home soil was also symbolically demonstrated in the quarter-finals of the 2014/15 season. “NIEMALS AUFGEBEN” (“NEVER GIVE UP”) was the message painted on an impressive banner in the Südkurve and proved to their team that they still believed in progressing despite the 3-1 defeat in the first leg at FC Porto. Lifted by that support, Bayern blew away the Portuguese side with a 6-1 win at their home stadium and stormed into the semi-finals.
Never giving up, no matter how lost the cause appears to be, has forever been firmly embedded in the club’s DNA. Take the incredible match in Getafe in the UEFA Cup in 2008, when Bayern took the tie into extra time thanks to a last-minute goal and then cancelled out another two-goal deficit to reach the semi-finals. Or the meeting at Manchester United in 2010 – probably one of the “most beautiful defeats in the club’s history” (Franz Beckenbauer) – when the Bavarians reduced a 3-0 deficit to 3-2 and thus scored the away goals required to progress after the 2-1 victory in the first leg. The thrilling closing stages of the 2015/16 Champions League round of 16 second leg against Juventus is another example of what Bayern are capable of at home. Following a 2-2 draw in the first leg, FCB trailed 2-0 early on but equalised through late goals from Lewandowski and Müller and went on to win 4-2 in extra time.
‘It’s not over until we’re under the showers’
“It’s not over until we’re under the showers after the second leg,” said a defiant head coach Thomas Tuchel last week. They acknowledged that in Manchester, too. “Bayern have the quality in their team, particularly at home, to score several goals against any opponents,” warned İlkay Gündoğan, City’s German international, in an interview and pointed to all the incredible games that have taken place in Europe’s premier club competition before. “There have been plenty of comebacks that absolutely nobody expected.”
Real and Liverpool examples
The 32-year-old learned that the hard way less than a year ago. In the semi-final against Real Madrid, with a 4-3 win from the first leg and a 1-0 lead shortly before the end of the second leg, Man City had one-and-three-quarter legs in the final. However, Los Blancos salvaged extra-time with two goals in stoppage time, before sinking the shocked Cityzens with another goal.
Liverpool also accomplished a turnaround in a similar situation to the one Bayern are in five years ago. The Reds were the last team (and the fourth ever) to reach the next round despite a three-goal deficit, beating Barcelona in the semi-finals with a 4-0 win at home having lost 3-0 at Camp Nou – exactly the course of events that everyone connected to Bayern would love on Wednesday. So, it’s still all to play for, or as Müller put it: “We’ll see what the football gods have in store.”