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Villarreal CF v FC Bayern Munich

First, I’d like to thank Jupp Heynckes for shit-canning pretty much everything I wrote in my preview. There were a few indicators that Daniel van Buyten was going to get a start ahead of time, but I was genuinely surprised to see Anatoliy Tymoshchuk in the lineup. Then again, I should have known..Tymo only tweets that furiously when he’s having fun.

I am generally not part of the “van Buyten starting? We’re all gonna die!” school of thinking, but in this instance, it seemed a poor choice. The lineup Bayern started with indicated to me that they would be more than content with a 0:0 scoreline after 90 minutes. The question is why, exactly. Part of Jupp’s mandate is “don’t do would Louis would do”, so there’s undoubtedly a nod to not being a defensive embarrassment in the Champions League. The difficulty of the group itself plays a role, simply in that you want a point rather than no points, and maybe you leave the ambition for your home matches. I suspect there are further specifics that I wouldn’t be able to identify without hanging out with Egon Coordes for a while too. But the bottom line was the Jupp was going to have to sell me, (and many of you, I suspect) on this lineup in this setting.

What Jupp didn’t bank on of course, was Villarreal and Garrido taking up something of the same philosophy. Seems to me the Bayern staff would have sat down on the bench and looked over the Villarreal personnel & alignment and then said: “Really? Well, let’s see what happens”. Because if they were expecting what they saw from the Villarreal, I don’t think they would ever have picked that 11. Of course, Van Buyten artist’s rendition of play vs Rossi here made certain that Jupp’s sales job would have to wait for another day by going off injured.

I hate to be too harsh on an opponent, and I’m no coaching prospect, but it occurred to me on more than one occasion-what the hell is Villarreal trying to do exactly? In the opening minutes, it looked like they were trying to press, anticipating the bobbles of LvG’s Bayern. Well, the Kroos goal set them straight on that, although it didn’t set them straight on the main problem that triggered the goal: all the green, green grass that anyone running on the flank for Bayern had in front of them. Wouldn’t that be, I don’t know, the FIRST thing you addressed in a defensive strategy against Bayern? No matter who they brought in and how they tried to shift, it seemed like they could never coordinate that effort.

There’s no question that more of an advantage tipped to Bayern once you had Rafinha romping down the outside, but I think Boateng deserves a little stick here. It was not his best performance. Bayern’s dominance in midfield and the fact that he has shifted around between CB and RB has made Boateng perhaps the most difficult player to evaluate in these early matches. I want to see an ability to handle more physical play, and more intensity to close up spaces. Less loping, more charging please. And maybe a peripheral vision test.

I’m not going to get too hung up in criticizing Gomez or Petersen. An injury really isn’t an excuse for Gomez to be offside that many times–because if that’s the issue, he shouldn’t be on the pitch in the first place.

As for Petersen, I really don’t think there’s a whole lot of shame in making your group stage debut and looking for all the world like..last year’s Klose. The rest of the team must have thought the same thing too, because for the first 10 minutes of the 2nd half, everyone decided to do an homage to Klose and pass out of their excellent position until they could find someone who’d want to shoot. Of course, whoever that person turned out to be, would be surrounded by yellow by the time it happened. Nils, like everyone else, eventually snapped out of it. There’s things for Nils to work on, but he got better the longer he was out there.

The best player on the pitch for me was Ribery. It’s not the cop-out choice just because Villarreal made life easier for him than many teams would. Jupp covered the reason why quite succinctly in his post-game comments: Ribery’s trackbacks were up to snuff: he was a factor defensively. A complete Ribery, is a very nice player to have indeed, as the scoreline showed.

Wondering about those freaky florescent Bayern warm-ups? Just ask our back-up keeper who also finds time to run Encom..Personally, I CANNOT wait for the Ribery light-cycle.

Bet you didn’t think I could get through an entire Champions League recap without mentioning Arjen Robben. Me either.

With a match on Sunday, the preview bumps to Friday. We ought to have better information about the status of Gomez and van Buyten by then. You can bump around looking for a stream if you care to catch Schalke’s EL match today.

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