As predicted, Bayern Munich enjoyed plenty of ball possession throughout the game, but in terms of creating clear-cut goal scoring chances, well there just weren’t many to point out, because as also predicted, Juventus stuck to their defensive style of play slowing down the pacy Bayern players and leaving them with little or no room for solid movement.
Following the 2-2 draw at the Juventus Stadium, this one in all its hype and might was bound to be a cracker. The Allianz Arena was stunned just five minutes after kick off when Paul Pogba pushed his team in to an early lead showing great composure and accuracy as he fired a low shot into an empty net after receiving the ball off a challenge made by Juan Cuadrado which began with the help of Sami Khedira‘ ball down from the right, which invariably created a scramble between David Alaba and the ever-rushing Manuel Neuer and helped Juventus in to an early 1-0 lead in the tie.
Though even after conceding, Bayern immediately continued with their usual pressing style of play and tried to muster a quick response, but it seemed like there was no way to break through Juventus’ solid defensive stance.
On the 25th minute, a Bayern move broke down on the edge of the Italian clubs penalty area that lead to an unbelievable 60-yard run by Alvaro Morata, racing himself past four Bayern players as he reached the edge of the penalty box and laid the ball off to an unmarked Cuadrado, who easily faked a shot to avoid a desperate initial challenge and fired the ball high past an exposed Neuer who remained helpless and defeated by his defence, again.
Things weren’t going Bayern’ way even as the half ended with the Italian Giants sitting quite comfortably in a 2 goal lead.
Even as the second half progressed things weren’t clicking for Bayern as they would have liked or imagined. Both Franck Ribery and Douglas Costa were starved for space on the wings and it seemed almost impossible to have penetrated through the middle of Juve’ defensive brigade of resilient and of course tough players. With all hopes diminishing, Pep Guardiola, Bayern’ coach until the end of this season decided to throw on Kingsley Coman, a player currently on loan from Juventus and perhaps too, a hero for the seemingly lost cause.
But, it proved to be the decision that saved them. With 17 minutes to go Coman found space on the right and played the ball back for Douglas who delivered a perfect cross at the far post where the able and hungry Robert Lewandowski was in a great position to perfectly head the ball in to the net leaving Juve’ legendary goalie Gigi Buffon lost for words.
Still Juventus refused to be taken down and as the clock ticked they appeared still to be on course for victory. However fate had other plans.
Because of the players that were brought on for Juve in the second half it seemed like they could have only defended through the rest of the game if they had to win. There was almost zero room for any break after Morata and Cuadrado were subbed off. Their colleagues Mario Mandzukic and Stefano Sturaro were not able to influence the game as Massimiliano Allegri would’ve wanted them to. In fact, Sturarro had one of his most dreadful games as a player for Juventus.
Last night, the fact that the players who came on from the bench weren’t able to influence the game cost Juventus a win within 90 minutes of the game as their very own player Coman had the final say in things, whipping over a cross from the right on the 91st minute for Thomas Müller to head the ball past Buffon taking the tie to extra time.
Two inspiring substitutions by Pep Guardiola saved Bayern Munich from not making it to the last eight in the Champions League last night, Kingsley Coman and Thiago Alcantara stepping off the bench and delivering heroic individual performances which definitely proved to have saved Bayern’ cause.
With Coman having set up the two goals that took the tie to extra time, Thiago played a one-two with Müller before firing home to put Bayern 5-4 ahead on aggregate early in the second half of extra time.
Then, with Juventus reeling after coming so close to pulling off a famous victory, Coman, their very own man found space on the right and ended nailing the final nail on the Juventus coffin as he curled in a beauty with his left foot past a helpless Buffon establishing a firm two goal lead (6-4) which was enough to take them through to the next round of the competition.
Though many might feel sorry for Juventus after last night, especially because they came so close and then lost it all, it must be understood that this is the Champions League, a league won by teams with the ability to make quick and effective tactical decisions and for the skill and composure to be able to effectively adjust in the given circumstances to see the decisions played through. Clearly, Bayern deserved the top spot on the podium last night whose coach Pep Guardiola played his cards perfectly right, who went form hero to zero and back again to hero as his players registered an impeccable comeback victory.