Writer: Tranmere Loyal
Date:Wednesday September 28 2011
Anticipation was in its ascendancy as I approached the Allianz Arena on Tuesday morning. On approach the stadium looks like a vast tyre that has been transported from another planet and landed in a field in the middle of nowhere.
Ahead of the UEFA Organisational meeting on Tuesday morning I was afforded the delight of standing on the field at the Allianz Arena and even empty this amazing football stadium really is out of this world. On non-match days it glows red for Bayern, blue for 1860 and whit for Germany in 30-second cycles and from the 21st floor of a hotel it is a sight to behold.
Upon arrival for the match the fans continued the friendships that began during the afternoon in the Marienplaz, Police kept themselves to themselves and the capacity crowd made their way into the stadium, City fans climbing a 170 stairway which they hoped would lead to heaven.
Nobody would believe what would unfold during the next two hours.
The initial eleven contained one or two surprises, none more so than disturbing the back line to the extent that Lescott was dropped and Kolo Toure brought in a right centre with a move to left centre for Kompany.
From the start it was clear that City were going to try to take the game to one of the world`s iconic football Clubs. Richards and Clichy detailed to push forward at every opportunity with Nasri and Silva intent on moving the ball quickly.
Aguero was busy trying to fashion out a chance as he was against Everton but on this occasion the doors, managed by an ex-City duo of Van Buyten and Boateng, were well tended and not likely to be allowed to open.
Dzeko simply couldn't get going, his control making life easy for whichever of those two picked him up.
Bayern are not only an iconic club they are very well versed in this type of football and although City's players individually might have endured encounters in Europe, as a team they were not on the same page as their classy adversaries.
With the Allianz Arena glowing red, Bayern were out for blood and, after weathering a chance that Dzeko couldn`t convert and two good penalty shouts against Boateng who floored Silva by sweeping his feet from beneath him and then Richards who was cut down in full flight, they ade a cute tactical change which was to make it a very long night for the Blues.
Spotting that Richards and Clichy were pushing forward and that the rest of the line-up was narrow and tight, Bayern broadened out their game to use the full width of the pitch and to get their men in behind the City full backs. Ribery and Lahm made life uncomfortable on the left and Muller and Rafinha did likewise on the right. Schweinstiger, knowing that Silva was the architect of everything that City do well, sat on him and denied him space and Gustavo bossed the midfield area.
And so the Bayern onslaught began. On the half hour City were given notice of the quality of what they were up against. Hart was called upon to make excellent saves from Ribery and Schweinsteiger and the backline was caught short-handed time and again as the full backs marauded forward and Ribery especially found acres of space in the gaps. This in turn meant that Toure was pulled out of position leaving Kompany to look after the centre on his own until Richards got back. It was a similar story on the other side with Muller getting in behind Clichy and dragging Kompany out of position. There seemed to be no respite from the defensive midfielders as Bayern started to run riot into the heart of Hart`s defence.
It seemed inevitable that the Bundesliga maestros would open the scoring soon and duly did after 37 minutes. Again Ribery got into the space behind Richards and advanced on Joe Hart drilling a worthy shot towards the far post. Hart read it well and dived full length but couldn`t divert it to safety. Muller followed up and place a shot towards the bottom corner which Hart miraculously prevented from going in but up popped Gomez to stab the ball home. And whilst all of this was going on two Bayern players followed up with no City defender getting anywhere close.
City hadn't had time to get things together when just ahead of half time an unnecessary free kick was given away within Kroos' shooting distance. His free kick was diverted by Van Buyten. Again Hart got there but couldn`t clear the danger when up popped Gomez again to send the Sudkurve into raptures.
So it was to be 0-2 at half time with City becoming victims of their own ambitions, but not having the personnel capable of halting what was starting to become a Champions League lesson from their Bavarian hosts.
Mancini clearly took the view of trying to chase the game, but it could have resulted in a landslide in favour of Bayern. Dzeko had been ineffective and well marshalled by Boateng and Van Buyten, so after 55 minutes it was time for a change.
You would have thought that this was the ideal challenge for Tevez - to drag City back into a match that looked well lost, but incredibly he remained seated and refused to take the field, forcing Mancini to send on de Jong to try to shore up the midfield and to try to repel the incessant Bayern threat. Hart still had to be on his toes refusing Gomez his chance to take the ball home and also to save from Ribery, who had by now resorted to being "injured" every time a City player breathed on him.
Nigel did seem to make a difference begging the question that if he was fit, why didn`t he start? In a match of this magnitude de Jong is vital to the midfield especially as Yaya seemed to be everywhere except where City needed him and Barry was fighting sometimes solo-handed in the midfield trenches.
Milner and Kolarov replaced Nasri and Barry, the former pretty much off the pace of this match, the latter probably exhausted.
And so City stumbled to the final whistle with some new knowledge of what it will take to win this competition. Bayern is a tough opponent especially on their home ground and especially as Neuer hasn`t let a goal in for 10 matches which is also a tribute to a man City let go last season after playing only twice in his best position, and one we simply couldn't afford when we had the chance.
After the two penalty claims, Boateng didn't put a foot wrong for the rest of the night and was a formidable opponent for Dzeko and Aguero. He gave them nothing.
By now the word was getting out on the blogs, and indeed on the satellite television services that Tevez had refused answer his manager's call and to go to work and the 3000 superb fans on the top level of the Nordkurve were quite rightly furious. They had endured expensive flights and hotel bills as a result of the Oktoberfest and the £200k a week want away striker refused to step into the fight.
In short he refused to serve those people who have idolised him since he "came to Manchester" and will have alienated himself so much that today the newsworld is full of "sack Tevez" stories.
Will they or won`t they? On the plane home the press lads which included some prominent journalists seemed to be chomping at the bit to find out the latest and there were fears of some kind of backlash when the plane landed at Ringway in the wee small hours. Thankfully that did not materialise.
I think City got a lot of tactical shouts wrong for this match. Kolo had only had an outing in the Carling Cup and needed more before getting a starting berth in this important fixture. As I`ve said Mancini must select de Jong if he is fit. His cover tackling would have bought Richards and Clichy regrouping time. And it the narrow game fails, go wide. Admittedly Johnson is till injured, but We could have used Milner and Kolarov in the second half to match up their tactics and put in de Jong to break up their midfield superiority. Yaya is probably due a rest.
It is perhaps an indictment that, on one of the world's finest football stages, City's man of the match should prove to be their goalkeeper . Hart was furious that his heroic saves ended with two goals against and no defenders in sight or defenders too slow to react as Kolo was for the second. Very much guilty of watching.
But all is not lost. We can beat Villareal home and away and we can beat Napoli if de Jong is fit and we adopt a higher tempo. We can probably get a point at home against Bayern. We need the Bavarians to win every match and leave a dogfight behind them and hope that City delivers the goods.
This was a good lesson to learn for City. At least it was against one of the best Club teams in the world. But all the headlines belong to Tevez. Was it a plan hatched by a generally detested agent to show the ultimate disrespect at the highest possible level?
I think the answer is to now take (or save) whatever we can from this saga and get rid. We need to keep him away from the others so that he does not become as mischievous as his South American counterparts, Elano and Robinho.
Date:Wednesday September 28 2011
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