Ten-man FCB felled by moment of magic


Ten-man Bayern reacted bravely in adversity against lively Bavarian neighbours Augsburg on Saturday but a sublime Raul Bobadilla finish 20 minutes from time sealed a second consecutive league defeat and a less-then-perfect warm-up for Tuesday’s do-or-die Champions League semi-final second leg against Barcelona.

The 75,000 full house at the Allianz Arena saw an early shock for Pep Guardiola’s men when backup keeper Pepe Reina was sent off just 13 minutes into the contest, but Augsburg skipper Paul Verhaegh missed the ensuing penalty. A breezy first half featured chances at both ends with both Mario Götze and Robert Lewandowski hitting the woodwork, but the visitors posed an increasing threat as the game wore on and Argentine-turned-Paraguay international Bobadilla netted what proved the winner with a deft piece of skill on 71 minutes.

The champions’ fourth defeat in 32 league fixtures means they remain on 76 points, 13 ahead of new second-placed team Mönchengladbach. The Bavarians now go in search of a minor footballing miracle at home to Barça in just three days’ time, but there are still two Bundesliga games to go this term with the men from Munich visiting struggling SC Freiburg next Saturday afternoon.

FCB close to full strength

In a change to the practice of recent weeks Guardiola made few concessions to the upcoming European showdown, with only Manuel Neuer, Xabi Alonso, Mehdi Benatia and Rafinha offered a rest. Reina, Mitch Weiser, Dante and Götze came into the team, with Javi Martinez and Claudio Pizarro joining the rested quartet on the bench.

The visitors, resplendent in their new all-red kit for the first time, lined up with Reina in goal, Weiser, Dante, Jerome Boateng and Juan Bernat in defence, Schweinsteiger in the holding role after a stint further up the field in midweek, Thiago and captain Philipp Lahm in central midfield, and Götze, Thomas Müller and Lewandowski in attack.

Incident-packed first period

After referee Sascha Stegemann whistled play underway, Raul Bobadilla brought a good save out of Reina from a direct free-kick, before Götze warmed Marwin Hitz’s gloves at the other end. Götze hit the outside of the post and Müller shot wide as the home team pressed but the momentum was abruptly halted on 13 minutes when Reina clattered into Bobadilla as the Argentine chased down a long punt from Hitz. Mr Stegemann was left with no option but to brandish a red card and point to the spot.

Guardiola chose to sacrifice Lahm in order to send on Neuer  - and although the world’s best keeper failed to lay a hand on Verhaegh’s penalty, his intimidating presence alone may have caused the visiting captain to aim his spot-kick against the post and away from danger.

The ten-man champions concentrated on adapting to the new circumstances and restricted the visitors to a Bobadilla half-chance, before Bernat twice tried his luck and Lewandowski and Götze aimed wide with the half-hour approaching. There was a let-off at the other end when Halil Altintop totally miskicked from Bobadilla’s lay-off with the goal at his mercy, but the Reds were on the front foot now and Müller shot over, Weiser’s drive was blocked, and Lewandowski crashed his effort against the top of the crossbar from Boateng’s excellent long pass.

Bobadilla’s big moment

The second half opened with Augsburg’s FCB loanee Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg on for Altintop, with Lewandowski just beaten to Götze’s pass by the alert Hitz, and Neuer easily saving sub Tobias Werner’s well-struck half-volley. Jeong-Ho Hong had the ball in the net from a corner on the hour but Bobadilla had already fouled Neuer, before Hitz stretched to beat out Weiser’s thumping drive.

FCB were fighting hard but FCA were beginning to make their one-man advantage tell and Dante did very well indeed to prevent a Werner cross reaching its intended target. However, there was no stopping Bobadilla’s skilful back-heeled finish and opening goal 19 minutes from the end after Höjbjerg had hared clear down the left.

Pizarro and Rafinha replaced Lewandowski and Müller for the last 15 minutes, with Schweinsteiger curling a free-kick over Hitz’s crossbar after Hong had felled Götze. The men in red battled away in the effort to salvage a point, but Pizarro’s attempt from outside the box landed in the crowd and the marauding Boateng’s drive skidded wide.

Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley