Bayern Munich (6)4 – 2(4) Juventus (AET). Thomas Muller break Italian hearts as his injury time header from levels the tie before two goals in extra time from substitutes Thiago and Coman send Bayern into the last eight.
So close yet so far for Juventus
Having conceded two away goals in the first leg at home, Juventus entered the tie knowing that they needed to score at the Allianz Arena to stand any chance of making it into the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Having scored 43 goals and conceded just 6 on their way to 12 home wins out of 13, to say that Bayern Munich has turned the Allianz Arena into a fortress would be a gross understatement. With 14 goals scored and just one conceded in just 3 games, their home record in Europe this season is even more impressive.
Yet for all of Bayern’s dominance at home, it took all of 5 minutes for Juventus to find the net. A defensive mixup between Alaba and Neuer meant a hopeful long punt into the box from Khedira turned into a easy tap-in for Pogba.
With less than half an hour on the clock, Juventus went two goals up and in complete control. Having broken up a Bayern attack at the edge of their own box, Morata embarked on a breath taking run that saw him leave 3 Bayern players in his wake. With red shirts surrounding him, Morata still had the presence of mind to play the ball wide to Cuadrado. A dummy left Lahm for dead before he hammered the ball unerringly past Neuer.
As the match wore on, both Cuadrado and Morata had golden chances to put three goals up but Juventus could not find the third goal to put the match to bed. Little would they know how much they would eventually rue those misses.
Douglas Costa makes the difference
Despite ending the game with over 75% possession and boasting the likes of Lewandowski, Muller and Ribery in their side, for most of the game Bayern huffed and puffed without really blowing the house down. A dogged and determined Biaconeri defence sat deep, repelling everything the Bavarian side threw at them.
Amongst their array of attack talents, Douglas Costa shone the brightest. Bright and creative, Costa was the only player to constantly ask questions of Juventus’s defence. His quick feet and eye for a pass created numerous problems for Juventus, causing panic whenever he swung the ball into the box. Time and time again Bayern Munich’s best moves went through him. With him in the team, Bayern had a chance.
While he did not eventually get his name on the scoresheet, it was telling that it was his pinpoint cross in the 73rd min that evaded the entire Juventus defence, allowing Lewandowski to pull Bayern back into the game.
Lewandowski, Muller, Thiago and Coman might dominate the headlines but there is no question that Douglas Costa was the best player on the pitch by a country mile.
A fine line between ingenuity and incompetence
As the saying goes, hindsight is always 20/20.
By taking off the two biggest threat, Massimiliano Allegri effectively handed Bayern the initiative when he took off first Morata then Cuadrado. While they were on the field, Bayern often had to leave men back to prevent a quick break. While bringing on Mario Mandzukic was a greater threat on set pieces and could try and hold up the ball, Allegri’s decision backfired. Once shorn of their pace, Juventus had little choice but to sit deeper and deeper to try and defend their lead.
In stark contrast, with both his substitutes finding the net in extra time, Guardiola will be lauded by the media as a tactical genius. The truth though is that Bayern Munich did not have that many clear cut chances despite bossing most of the game. If not for Muller’s equalising header deep in extra time though, his substitutes would never have the chance to shine.
Despite one manager’s tactical switches paying off and the other one back firing, Allegri is not an incompetent manager nor is Guardiola a managerial genius.
The truth, as it always is, somewhere in between.