AEven a larger rotation around Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting, who continues to hit the target fantastically, has not ripped FC Bayern out of the current flow of success. The Munich team completed a flawless Champions League group stage on Tuesday evening with a 2-0 (1-0) win over second-placed Inter Milan. The German record champions are the first club to win an 18-point preliminary round for the third time in Europe’s premier class.
The goals in front of 75,000 spectators in the Allianz Arena were scored by world champion Benjamin Pavard with his first Champions League goal (32nd) and Choupo-Moting with a dream goal in the corner (72nd). “We want to win every game. We knew it was something special to get six wins in such a strong group,” said Choupo-Moting on Amazon Prime Video, adding, looking at his performance: “I know what I can do. I know that I can help the team with my qualities. It’s been going great for the past few weeks. I’m happy with my goals and assists.” He also “remained positive” against Inter. Then it worked with the goal: “I took heart and thought: I’ll shoot from afar. A great goal.”
Without a few injured and partially rested stars, the offensive game did not always run smoothly in Munich’s seventh competitive win in a row. But Bayern boss Oliver Kahn was right when he said: “The rotation is working now!”
Of course, Bayern also had a bad time because referee Ivan Kruzliak did not give the expected penalty after a handball from Sadio Mané when Nicolo Barella shot a powerful shot, even according to the video images. Bayern will find out their opponents in the round of 16 next Monday when the draw takes place in Nyon.
There are no friendlies against Inter, emphasized Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn. Accordingly, both teams gave nothing. Even the Italians, who had never lost in Munich, didn’t want to conserve their strength. Two long-range shots by Nicolo Barella became directly dangerous (7th and 8th). Sven Ulreich parried the first, Mané blocked the second – albeit with his arms raised. The fact that Kruzliak refused the penalty after this action surprised those involved.
The Munich offensive machine, which had scored an outstanding 36 goals in the past nine games, was struggling. The fact that Nagelsmann rotated his stars Jamal Musiala, Serge Gnabry, Leon Goretzka and Alphonso Davies to the bench and completely dispensed with the ailing Manuel Neuer and Thomas Müller was noticeable.
Things didn’t go as smoothly as in the past few weeks. Bayern were lucky once again when German international Robin Gosens played a perfect cross pass to Lautaro Martinez, who then put the ball over the goal (27′). However, it remained one of the few actions in which Gosens could do self-promotion for a World Cup nomination.
Since the game didn’t do much for Munich, a standard had to help. After a corner from Joshua Kimmich, who was very present, Pavard climbed the highest and gave Inter keeper André Onana no chance with a header. Otherwise there were not too many goal area scenes on the part of the record champions. Kingsley Coman, who is still chasing his top form, tested Onana with a long-range shot (45+2).
Goretzka substitute Ryan Gravenberch showed himself to be ready for the ball and eager to run, even if the big moments were missing. Noussair Mazroui was able to score points on the right wing, while Josip Stanisic found it more difficult on the other side. The Croatian moved into central defense after the break as Davies came on for prolific Dayot Upamecano. With the addition of other stars like Musiala and Gnabry, more momentum and speed came into the Bayern game.
That should pay off. Choupo-Moting provided the highlight of the evening with a fantastic long-range shot. With seven goals from the past six games, the center forward is still the man of the hour. The discussion about a missing nine after the departure of top scorer Robert Lewandowski has fallen silent for the time being.