In a turn-around of what was originally expected, Jupp Heynckes did, indeed, field a sub-par starting XI in Manchester on Wednesday. With Bastian Schweinsteiger still out for a couple of weeks, Toni Kroos and Arjen Robben not even making the flight to Ingerland, and then the subsequent flu scares of Thomas Mueller and Mario Gomez, Jupp let the bench play.
The 46,000 City supporters (minus 2,600 Bayern fans) in the Eithad Stadium were unusually quiet until Silva opened the scoring for the Citizens on 36 minutes. Which leads me to believe, contrary to what any City fans have lambasted me over, that the Champions League is very important indeed. Yaya Toure doubled the lead 7 minutes after the re-start with some lovely give-and-go work between him, Aguero and Dzeko.
The uncommon Bayern bench did well to acquit themselves in this match. And for a bunch of guys that never play together, despite the loss, it didn't get out of hand. Props to Ivica Olic for his break and screamer narrowly saved by Joe Hart. Tymo and Pranjic also both had good days, and nice work-rates, even managing to get some offense going. And I loved Jerome Boateng's goal-line clearance after Aguero had slipped past Butt. Good stuff, that.
And like everyone else in a pub, I was also watching the Villareal - Napoli and the Basel - Manchester United matches. To see Napoli score their opener, and then 30 seconds later, to hear the energy deflate in Manchester, made for a most enjoyable loss. And almost as good as the last time we lost in that city.
Bayern, as group winners, are on to the Round of 16. And the Europa League just got infinitely more exciting. A Schalke-supporting friend of mine tweeted after the match that their chances of winning the second-tier competition had just dropped considerably. And I'm sure the footie channels that have rights to the Europa League matches are salivating. Now, is the Champions League a worse-off place with the losses of Manchester United and Manchester City? Perhaps. But, plenty of people, world-wide, were happy to see them go.
But at present, a match against Stuttgart looms. Hopefully, we'll be righting the ship and firing goals in to the break--- extending our lead at the top of the Bundesliga.
Wir singen, wir tanzen, auf jedem Fussballplatz!
Ein Schuss! Ein Tor! Die Bayern!
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