Franck Ribery, Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben score for Bayern Munich as defending European champions cruise past Manchester City, reports Richard Jolly.
Bayern Munich show Manchester City who is the real boss in Uefa Champions League
Manchester City 1, Bayern Munich 3
Bayern Munich: Ribery 07’, Muller 56’, Robben 60’
Manchester City: Negredo 80’
Red card: Boateng (Bayern)
Man of the match: Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich)
Manchester // Take the most coveted manager in Europe. Combine him with the outstanding team in the world. It always promised to be a potent formula and now Manchester City can confirm that the union of Pep Guardiola and Bayern Munich is every bit as effective as it was expected to be.
City’s maiden home Uefa Champions League defeat was galling in many respects: besides the loss of the points, it outlined the gulf between them and Europe’s defending champions. Moreover, it was orchestrated by a manager they had hoped to hire. Guardiola was tempted by Bayern, by the task of making the best even better, and the pace and passing they exhibited as they overwhelmed City was reminiscent of Barcelona. It was devastating, exhilarating stuff.
Guardiola has borrowed from his Barcelona blueprint, disposing of a specialist striker and playing the ever adaptable Thomas Muller as a “false No 9” and, typically, he flourished. Nevertheless, the pivotal players were found on the flanks. With Bayern dominating in the middle of midfield, the space was on the sides. Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben exploited it superbly. Like Muller, both were scorers.
Despite the considerable claims of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, Ribery was crowned Uefa Player of the Year for his efforts last season. He provided an indication why with a seventh-minute goal that, even at this early stage, puts Bayern in a dominant position in Group D. The frustration for City, however, will be that the damage was partly self-inflicted; indeed it was a tale of their evening.
Rafinha was allowed to drive a 50-yard cross-field ball to Ribery who checked past Jesus Navas and unleashed a dipping shot that Joe Hart should have saved. Instead, he palmed it into the back of his net. Following earlier errors against Cardiff City and Hull City, it compounded a difficult start to the season for the goalkeeper.
It left City chasing the game against a team who excel in possession. Frankly, they were chasing their tails. Yet for 49 minutes they were only a goal away from parity. Then, quickly and decisively, Bayern killed the game off.
Gael Clichy was caught ball-watching as Dante angled a pass behind him. Muller anticipated it, evaded Hart and tapped the ball into the unguarded net. Three minutes later, Toni Kroos robbed Fernandinho and released Robben. The high-speed slalom runner darted past Matija Nastasic and drilled his shot beyond Hart.
If, before he arrived in Bavaria, the sense was that Robben was too much of an individualist to be a quintessential Guardiola player, the Catalan has had the sense to retain a unique talent. Appreciated by the City crowd, who applauded him off, Robben offers the incisiveness that means Bayern have a cutting edge to complement their perpetual passing.
And that was the greatest problem for City; with Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm and Kroos in control in midfield, they seemed to spend the entire evening in vain attempts to dispossess Bayern.
With Muller hitting the post, Kroos shooting wide and Hart denying Robben, they were fortunate not to concede more goals, even if they may have been lucky that City’s late rally only produced one. Substitute Alvaro Negredo scored superbly and, after Jerome Boateng was sent off for bringing down Yaya Toure, his fellow replacement David Silva hit the bar. Before then, however, they had been battered, energetically and elegantly.