My biased reaction to Valencia

Posted by Susie Schaaf

All three German teams win in opening Champions League matches, and all three miss penalties. I suppose the German myth has now been debunked. Eh. That's OK. I'd rather have the three points.

Bayern Munich opened their group with a win against Valencia in the Allianz Arena that, at first, seemed to be missing a few pieces. Jupp Heynckes made a few changes to the side that had, so far, been romping through the Bundesliga. Javi Martinez got his first career CL start; the only not-surprising line-up change. The other two were a bit of a puzzle for most supporters as Jupp started Robben (who recovered his fitness in time) on the wing- benching Thomas Mueller- instead of moving him to the playmaker's role, which he kept at Toni Kroos' feet.

The other missing puzzle piece? The entire Suedkurve. They, en masse, decided to sit this one out over a choreo struggle between FCB brass and one of the fan clubs. Well, what can say I? They missed a great match.

My initial thoughts after our 2-1 win over Valencia CF:

The first 20 minutes saw Bayern with a bit of positoning disconnect as players were getting accustomed to each other, still beating out a defensive Valencia side. But, it bore out as they finally got it together with two quick strikes; one from Schweinsteiger, and the first Kroos missile.

While I thought Heynckes was alternately destroying my CL fantasy team (Mueller was my captain, and I started Mandzukic) or wanted all his Spanish speakers on the pitch (Robben, Pizarro, Martinez), I thought Peruvian Claudio Pizarro did really well on the ball, except get himself available to score. Erm. It's what a striker does, yeah?

I also thought Turkish referee Firat Aydinus had a great initial 35 minutes. He called no soft fouls, and let the boys play. However, this would turn in to complete shambles later as... thumbing through my notes... well, after the Kroos free kick, Kroos was fouled in the box, Rami carded with Bayern advantage... Grrrr. It was a fairly easy match to control. He did not do so.

Bastian's header (38), after an exchange with Robben in the box, was only a matter of time, as Bayern had controlled nearly 70% of possession up to that point.

Dante and Boateng, really only bothered a little by Soldado, had a great first half. The match got away for a bit in the second, as Valencia pressed, but I'm inclined to think that's more of a team/substitution thing.

Neuer did well to save twice in succession on 52 minutes punching clear on a Cissohko shot and saving Mexico's Andres Guardado's belter.

Javi finished the match at 69 minutes, making way for Luis Gustavo. The Spaniard finished completing 92% of 50 passes. Not bad for his first Champions League match.

Badstuber to Kroos for another missile? I like it! Toni ended up the match with 4 shots, 3 on target, and one goal. Let the Mueller / Kroos debate rage on!

And, apparently defending set pieces are STILL a problem as Valdez pulled one back from Pereira's free in injury time. Grrrrrrrr. Completely unnecessary. The goal by Valencia puts us in second place (not again!) in our group as BATE put three on Lille.

Bayern Munich needs to stop placing penalties. And start drilling penalties. Sheesh. Poorly done by Mandzukic. (Who, by the way, is on my fantasy team, and came on only to give me negative points. I'm not bitter at all.)

In the end, well done by the Bayern boys, shame about the Suedkurve issue, and Paulaner all around! Yay! I leave for Munich in the morning. Wish me luck at the 'Fest!

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