“Typical Germans”, said SAF, complaining that a German… errrr… I mean, a French guy complained to the referee after having his shirt tugged by Rafael. This leading to Rafael’s second booking and being sent off. Rafael was working on having a brilliant match, but his two cards were stupid and passion induced; first for tripping Mark van Bommel, and the much-discussed second. And yes, the red card absolutely did change the dimension of the game, as red cards usually do.
The typical German wing-back, Holger Badstuber, had a very untypical match. (Can I say “horrible”?) Typically, German teams are known for their stalwart defenses. However, Bayern’s was made to look like Swiss cheese by the onslaught of United’s entire midfield and Wayne Rooney running rampant in the first half.
Going down 3 - 0 in the first 40 minutes gave me pause for concern, as we seemed to have no answer for the strikes by Gibson and Nani. My United supporter friends, all around me, were jubilant and giddy. Rightly so. I stood, sweating and a bit bewildered, thinking about last years drubbing we’d received at the hands of Barcelona--- hoping, to god, that this would not be the same. But, this Bayern Munich squad is not the same as last seasons was; and I found a little glimmer of hope.
“If we can just score one before the break”, I remarked to a fellow Bayern supporter, “We’ll be fine in the second half.” And, I actually believed it. Ivica Olic, the typical
German Croatian, on 42 minutes, answered my prayer. After a head-flick by Mueller, he out-muscled Carrick and struck across and under Edwin van der Saar to score the goal Bayern so badly needed before half time.
“At half time, we swore to go out and play like men”, Bastian Schweinsteiger said. And they did, like they’ve been doing all season long, in all competitions. I’d kill to be a fly on the wall in the Bayern Munich dressing rooms, for I wonder what “typical” Dutch wisdom is coming out of van Gaal’s mouth. And, what the players are saying to each other to pick themselves up and change the game dimensions in the second 45 minutes, as has become the norm this season.
Five minutes in to the second half, Rafael, looking like a little boy lost, walked, stunned, off the pitch at Old Trattford after receiving his second yellow. And here the match took a dramatic turn in Bayern’s favor: Seizing their one-man advantage, setting United back on their heels for the first time that evening; evidenced by Wayne Rooney (finally!) being substituted for, defender, John O’Shea.
Arjen Robben, another typical German, (Haha. This will never get old for me!) was, once again, Bayern’s salvation, as Franck Ribery’s unusually (for him) effective corner, at 74 minutes, found Robben, who rocketed a shot past United’s van der Saar.
United tried valiantly to regain the offensive upper hand by subbing in Dimitar Berbatov, but to no avail. The remainder of the match saw Bayern keep pressing, and pressing, and pressing ‘til the final whistle was blown.
“That’s one of the nicest defeats in the history of Bayern.”--- Franz Beckenbauer.
“The mark of this team and the coach is that they never lose their belief.”--- Uli Hoeness.
“We said it beforehand, we could go a long way this season.”--- Arjen Robben.
The typical German game is not as quick as the English Premiership. It’s not as pretty as La Liga. It’s not as free-spirited as Ligue 1. It’s is controlled, nuanced, 90 minutes of total football. And it is best exemplified by this Bayern Munich squad. Contrary to Sir Alex Ferguson’s disparaging remark, this team of Turks, Croats, Dutch, Argentines, Austrians, French, Belgians, Ukrainians, and yes… Germans should be proud of being “typically German” today.