As the final whistle blew in Munich, Bayern came out victorious yet again from the clash against Barcelona, like it’s getting a – not too flattering – tradition. However, our game did not show the inferiority of any kind, and if we are even more positive, we should have won this game.
After some shaky minutes at the start, Barcelona took the control into their hands as the first half went on under our dominance. Our pressing was effective in forcing out errors and winning the ball back, which we turned into our possession or quick attacks. In possession, we were composed and skilled enough to retain the ball in difficult situations – majorly thanks to our midfielders’ genius – and escape Bayern’s pressing to advance and create chances to score.
We had the chance. We had serious goalscoring opportunities but failed to convert them into the end product. Football is the game of fine margins, where some nuances can decide the fate of a match and, eventually, that of trophies and titles. Just imagine: if just one of Lewandowski’s sitters, Pedri’s post, or Raphinha’s distant shots went in, that could have changed entirely the course of the game, and even the final result in our favor.
However, the final touch was lacking. The legs shook under the pressure, which could be assigned to the fact that this is still new, let’s say young and unexperienced team on this certain level, and that cold, composed execution – which is said to be assigned with teams with that infamous ‘winning mentality’ – was nonexistent in our play. Ironically, it was that Robert Lewandowski missing chance after chance who had proved his prowess profusely before, interestingly enough, at Bayern.
Pedri, aside from the fact that he missed a chance potentially bringing us back in the match, was perhaps our best player on the pitch. His composure to handle the pressure, the way he defends the ball and escapes pressure with his exquisite close control, and his intelligence and a quick mind to combine with his teammates in tight spaces were all a joy to watch.
Alongside Pedri, Gavi also had a monstrous performance, with his ever-present tenacity and positional prowess. Despite the defeat suffered, with this duo on board, the future of the midfield looks bright for the Garnet and Blue.
But sadly, the game is cruel. If you don’t take your chances, you will be punished, and yesterday this happened exactly. Barcelona was better (or at least equal), and I don’t say it because I’m biased but because of pure stats, and facts that nobody can argue with. More shots, more big chances, more expected goals. Though the Blaugrana failed to score, and we had to pay for our wastefulness.
Accordingly, Bayern took advantage of our lack of effectiveness and exploited a sudden lapse in our defensive structure, took the lead, and did not let it slip out of their hands. The goal, of course, changed the attitude of teams as Barcelona had to push for the result while Bayern could just sit back comfortably and play penetrative counterattacks on a more opened-up defense.
Shortly after, there came the second which visibly closed the substantive questions about the game. Exploiting the high line and huge spaces behind, a quick transition has been converted calmly by Sané. One more huge chance from Pedri, which unfortunately hit the post, and our hopes have definitely flown away. Xavi still tried something desperately to save the unsavable with the substitutions, but then, we no longer had the chance to come back.
Nevertheless, it was a really frustrating result based on the quality of our play. The team does deserve praise for a well-executed game plan but no other can be blamed for being unable to find the back of the net from this quantity of opportunities. That clinical instinct the likes of Bayern München and Real Madrid have was missing from our play, but hopefully, it will be balanced in the future.
It’s disappointing. Not because we lost, it does not matter much from the practical side of things, we are fighting Inter for the second place in the group, but seeing such a performance against a team of Bayern’s caliber, there is no need to worry. It hurts, though, because we were competing and we were dominating for most of the time, and we had the chance to grab the victory but in the end, it slipped out of our hands. We could have won yesterday, and I believe we should have won.
Anyways, at least let this performance encourage us that we are on the right way and that Xavi is doing a good job. Of course, improvement is needed and there is still a lot of work to do, but the direction is right, and if we continue like that, we can achieve great things.