No matter the words of hope and determination coming from the Allianz Arena ahead of Bayern’s quarter-final second leg tie against Manchester City on Wednesday, few people will be giving the German champions any hope of overturning their 3-0 deficit and making it through to the semis. The situation looks beyond bleak, but do Thomas Tuchel’s side have any hope? And if so what?
The image of Monty Python’s’ Dead Parrot’ sketch comes to mind when looking ahead to this week’s Champions League clash at the Allianz Arena and Bayern are the Norwegian Blu that to all intents and purposes is dead. While the shopkeeper insists it is just resting, everyone knows it is defunct, deceased and not longer of this mortal coil.
Should Man City fans be making semi-final travel plans already, or is there actually a chance Bayern can turn this tie on it’s head and produce a great Champions League comeback?
As you would expect midfielder anchor Joshua Kimmich is not giving up just yet. “Against Man City, everyone knows that we need a completely different performance. We all know we can do that, but we have to show it on the pitch every 3 days, not every 2 weeks.
“The performance last Tuesday, at least the first 70 minutes (can give Bayern hope). We had chances, we played very well and controlled the game. Of course, this time it won’t be enough to control it. Fortunately, the game on Wednesday won’t be just 70 minutes.”
Anything can happen it football and 3-0 result or even better is not beyond the realms of possibility, it’s just Bayern are going to have to play out of their skins and hope that Pep Guardiola’s City side have a meltdown. The 3-0 scoreline from the first-leg makes Bayern look worse than they actually were on the night and had Ruben Dias not blocked Jamal Musiala’s goalbound shot or Leroy Sané’s shooting radar been more precise. If, buts and maybes but there are reasons of hope for Bayern.
The Allianz Arena factor
The Allianz Arena has been a fortress for Bayern in the Champions League and the home crowd will do their bit to help inspire the turnaround. Bayern have won all four home games in Europe without conceding a single goal. Of their 18 home games in the Henkelpott since the start of the 2019/20 season, 16 have brought victories with eight them by a margin that would at least be enough for extra time on Wednesday. They have already beaten both Barcelona and Inter at home this season, although City are a different proposition.
The goals Bayern conceded at the Etihad were all avoidable. Errors are part and parcel of football and at this level more often than not lead to punishment in form of goals. An error-free performance from City will see them progress with ease, but it is not beyond the realms of possibility that an early error under pressure and an early goal will energise Bayern and the Bavarians are usually a formidable beast when they smell blood.
So far this season Bayern have responded to defeats in the ideal manner with a win. After losing to Augsburg on matchday 7 they trounced Bayer Leverkusen 4-0. The loss to Mönchengladbach on matchday 21 saw them hit back with a 3-0 win over Union Berlin, while the last league defeat to Leverkusen saw them come back the following game with their Klassiker win against Dortmund.
They gained a semblance of revenge over Freiburg for the DFB Pokal loss by winning the Bundesliga clash days later. However, Bayern didn’t manage to get all three points this weekend at home to Hoffenheim following the Etihad defeat.
It’s been done before
Champions League comebacks are not a rarity and there are plenty of examples of teams turning around seemingly lost causes. Deportivo La Coruña (2003/04 against Milan), FC Barcelona (2016/17 against Paris Saint-Germain), AS Roma (2017 /18 against Barcelona) and Liverpool FC (2018/19 against Barcelona) have all progressed despite a three-goal deficit from the first leg. Bayern will want to add their name to that illustrious list.
Hope is what Bayern have. However they are not facing any old average European side- they are facing perhaps the joint favourites to win this year’s trophy. They showed their quality in the first-leg and in Erling Haaland they have a striker able to score at will (oh how Bayern miss Robert Lewandowski!)
The task is a big one. Correction, it’s a huge one, but not impossible. Fans of a Bayern persuasion will believe those not particularly fond of the Rekordmeister will see the uphill task as just too steep even for Bayern.