“A draw would have been a fairer result. Both teams had their chances in a very entertaining game. We have been lucky” said the former Bayern and Inter legend Karl Heinze Rummenigge after the match. Gentleman’s words. Inter-Bayern was the kind of the game where any result could have been acceptable. Even a draw or an Inter win. But Bayern deserved to win – they hit the posts twice with Ribery and Robben and controlled most of the game.
The European champions’ timid approach allowed ‘Boring’ Munich to take the initiative and to look for large spells like a spectacular side, solid in all departments. Simply, they are not. Fielding two centrebacks like Tymoshchuk and Badstuber [and Breno from the 38th minute] is a luxury that normally you can afford in reserves games not against great opponents like Inter are supposed to be.
However, Louis Van Gaal was right as Inter didn’t play as a great side. Too timid, too worried, too afraid of seeing exposed their recent slump in form. Nerazzurri were so scared by their poor physical condition [16 games in 49 days left the team with no energy] that they failed to test Bayern’s limits, which were evident every time an Inter player ventured in the German penalty box.
The Italian champions managed to do it only occasionally – Ranocchia nearly scored at the first minute; Cambiasso missed a sitter twice at the minutes 25 and 57; the always outstanding Samuel Eto’o saw his three chances denied by a truly inspired Kraft, who pulled off two more decisive saves on Kharja and Thiago Motta. Many chances but no consequence of Inter’ superiority. Despite the goalkeeper being Bayern’s best player on the day – Lahm, Luiz Gustavo and Schwainsteiger were also brilliant but it’s no surprise – the German didn’t play a defensive game. On the contrary Van Gaal’s wall in midfield allowed Bayern to dictate the game’s script.
The German pressing was helped by Inter’s lack of movement.
The team outclassed at White Hart Lane some months ago suddenly reappeared in San Siro. Same lack of proposition, same lack of runs without the ball. Most of all, the same sensation of a team on its knees. Pride, commitment and skills can’t go very far without fresh legs. This disappointing display does not come out of the blue. In the last four games Inter lost twice (Juventus and Bayern) and won against Fiorentina and Cagliari. Four games that could have brought four wins, four defeats or four draws and no one could have argued - the constant was that Leonardo’s team struggled in all of them.
Inter players looked drained. Last season Jose Mourinho surrendered top spot to Roma [only for few days] wasting a 14 points advantage to rest his players for the UEFA Champions League fixtures. This time Leonardo had to face just the opposite situation, as he had to reduce a 16 points gap from the Serie A leaders AC Milan – he managed to cut the deficit to only five points but now the team looks exhausted. He had no alternative and Inter are paying the price.
Leonardo is adamant his guys can win 2-0 in Munich. Ranocchia’s injury doesn’t help whereas Milito’s return could be a big boost. Anyway, the sad truth is that Inter losing against Bayern meant third home defeat out of three Champions League games for the Italian sides. Serie A used to be the top league in the world in the 80s and in the 90s, one of the best ten years ago. But it’s getting worse and worse. It’s going to be the Mediterranean version of the Scottish Premier League – with the Old firm [AC Milan and Inter] ruling domestically but very often battered abroad.
Man of the match. Lucio. A gladiator. Monumental. He didn’t deserve to be on the losing side. He stopped every opponent and tried to break Bayern’s wall with his runs. Brave, generous, never beaten. The epitome of the winning mentality.
UEFA Champions League 2010-11 - 1/8 first leg
INTER-BAYERN MUNICH 0-1
INTER: Julio Cesar; Maicon, Lucio, Ranocchia (73’ Kharja), Chivu; Zanetti, Thiago Motta, Cambiasso; Sneijder, Stankovic; Eto’o. Coach: Leonardo
BAYERN MUNICH: Kraft; Lahm, Tymoshchuk, Badstuber, Pranjic (38’ Breno); Luiz Gustavo, Schweinsteiger; Robben, Muller, Ribery; Gomez. Coach: Van Gaal
Referee: Kassai (Hun)
Goal: Gomez 90’
Yellow cards: Zanetti, Sneijder, Motta; Ribery, Luiz Gustavo
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