FC Bayern Munich advance to the elimination rounds of Champions League competition after securing a victory at PSV Eindhoven, 1:2. The narrow scoreline would not be entirely indicative of play over 90 minutes as the Italian refereeing crew, headed by Gianluca Rocchi, wrongly dictated much of the first half.
Over the years Bayern Munich have been accused of (have been granted) more than their fair share of calls. Jealous fans of rival Bundesliga teams call it Bayern-Dusel, or “undeserved luck”. Most of it can be chalked up to cognitive bias as a superior team will generally get more calls for than against– and I hesitate to bring up refereeing, in general, for that reason. But, when referees dictate the scoreline with crap decisions, it is worth mentioning.
Three officiating mistakes
Out of the three things the Italian crew got wrong in the first half, two went against Bayern, and the third could only be considered a make-up call.
1) Santiago Arias was a mile (actually, a meter) offside; picking up Manuel Neuer’s excellent save on Davy Pröpper’s initial header. And the linesman was looking right at it.
2) PSV’s Hector Moreno hugged Robert Lewandowski so hard (and don’t we all want to?) on a corner kick, with the action completely missed by Rocchi.
3) Lewandowski scores a penalty on what can only be presumed to be Rocchi trying to even things out after Andres Guardado couldn’t get out of the way of the ball in his box.
And three more
Despite his brace, Lewandowski might have scored five. He is the first person in UCL history (since stats started being monitored) to hit the woodwork three times in a match.
Take a bow, Bob.
However you “‘ship” the center-back duo for both the German national team and Bayern, there is a certain, lovely appeal that Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels provide in attack. Bayern was horrible in transitional defense on the evening, but both still managed their duties tracking back from a strange (almost Pep-like!) high press.
Hummels was busier defensively Tuesday evening, but Boateng provided the third sexiest play on the day with a long diagonal pass that caught Lewandowski perfectly.
5.83 km is the distance that Thomas Mueller ran the first half of the match. More than anyone on the pitch. When I pondered this on Twitter, a friend jokingly (not jokingly at all) noted that he was chasing around the shadow of the player he used to be.
For all the Mueller stalwarts out there trying to make a case for his poor play this season, the answer is really quite simple: He probably suffers the worst in Carlo Ancelotti’s 4-3-3 system.
It got better for dear Thomas after Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman came in for Joshua Kimmich and Arjen Robben as he then moved to a more comfortable central role. Yet we still have not seen the best of everyone’s favorite raumdeuter this season.
The lack of defensive action in the middle of the park can be chalked up to…? Thiago Alcantara not on the team sheet? Not very interesting performances by both Arturo Vidal and Kimmich?
As I said before, transitional defense was horrible on the evening, and the dashboard above proves it. But it also shows that when it mattered most, somebody was still there to pick up the ball.
*All stats courtesy of FourFourTwo