Created on 23-02-2016 at 22:35 PM by Chris Hamley
Bayern are well-positioned to reach the Champions League quarter-finals but will be angry at tossing away a two-goal lead in an absorbing and intense 2-2 draw away to Italian record champions Juventus in Tuesday night’s Round of 16 first leg tie, Philipp Lahm 100th appearance in Europe’s elite club competition. A win by any score or a goalless or 1-1 draw in the return will now be enough for Munich to prevail.
The 41,475 full house at the Juventus Stadium saw Pep Guardiola’s men camp out in their opponents’ half for most of the first 45 minutes, Thomas Müller failing to convert the best of a string of early chances but hitting the target on 43 minutes to hand his side a valuable half-time lead. Arjen Robben doubled the advantage with a trademark finish ten minutes into the second half, but the Italians were not dead and buried and showed terrific morale to level the scores through Paulo Dybala and sub Stefano Sturaro and leave a pulsating tie nicely poised.
The teams meet again for the return leg at the Allianz Arena in three weeks time on Wednesday 16 March, with the aggregate winners going through to the last eight. The Bavarians are back in action on Saturday afternoon away to last season’s Bundesliga runners-up Wolfsburg.
Start for Juve old boy Vidal
Bayern boss Guardiola made three changes to the team that beat Darmstadt in the league last weekend. Captain Lahm took over from Rafinha, Juan Bernat replaced Serdar Tasci, and Thiago came into the side in place of Juventus loanee Kingsley Coman. A big-name bench included the likes of Xabi Alonso, Franck Ribery and Mario Götze, and also Mehdi Benatia for the first time since a long injury lay-off.
The five-time European Cup winners lined up with Manual Neuer in goal, Lahm, David Alaba, Joshua Kimmich and Bernat in the back four, former Juve battler Arturo Vidal and Thiago in central midfield, Douglas Costa, Müller and Robben in attack, and Robert Lewandowski at centre-forward.
Bianconeri boss Massimiliano Allegri’s home line-up included fit-again Germany international Sami Khedira and former FCB hitman Mario Mandzukic, with a host of other stars including French dynamo Paul Pogba, veteran keeper Gianluigi Buffon and Argentine danger man Dybala.
Müller’s deserved opener
After English referee Martin Atkinson whistled play underway on a dry night in northern Italy, the men in red applied intense pressure from the off with Alaba and Kimmich frequently establishing the defensive line in their opponents’ half. Buffon made a fine early save to beat away Vidal’s snap shot and Costa dragged his effort wide, but the Bavarians’ high line meant Juve occasionally snuck in behind the defenders and Mandzukic twice failed to convert half-chances.
Guardiola’s men were desperately unlucky not to take the lead on 13 minutes when Lahm and Lewandowski teed up Müller just yards from goal, but the Pole’s lay-off was a shade behind the Germany striker and ex-Wolfsburg centre-back Andrea Barzagli cleared off the line. The Italians enjoyed a better spell after that but FCB were soon back on the attack, Robben fizzing a drive just too high, Bernat drawing another stop from Buffon from outside the box, and Lewandowski heading too close to the Italian keeper.
It was still all Bayern with Buffon saving from Costa and Robben heading wide from a corner, before Müller sent his side in at the break a goal to the good with a composed 43rd-minute finish after Robben and Costa had the home defence at sixes and sevens with rapid-fire crosses from either flank.
End-to-end second half
The serial Italian champions emerged for the second half with more ambition and matched the visitors for a brief period, but the crowd were silenced when FCB reasserted their authority and Robben doubled the lead in the 55th minute with a typical cut inside from the right and curling left-foot finish from 14 yards.
The Bundesliga leaders were not done yet and Lewandowski headed wide at the near post, but there was a setback when Dybala capitalised on a momentary lapse in the visiting defence and pulled one back with a cool 63rd-minute finish. Suddenly the heat was on Bayern with Neuer beating away Juan Cuadrado’s firm shot from a Mandzukic lay-off and Pogba lofting a lob over the bar, prompting Guardiola to replace Bernat with Benatia a quarter of an hour from time.
But the Italians had their tails up now and Juve subs Alvaro Morata and Sturaro combined for the 76th-minute equaliser, the Spaniard directing an angled header into the danger zone and the Italian applying the finish after beating Kimmich to the bouncing ball.
Ribery replaced Costa for the closing stages and the momentum reverted to the visitors, Ribery and Alaba combining well but being crowded out, Ribery’s cross finding no takers, Robben’s shot drifting wide, and Benatia’s header floating over the target.
Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley