European champions Bayern Munich won 3-1 at Manchester City in the Champions League last night.
The German champions completely dominated for 80 minutes of the match and City had no answer to it.
First of all I must get this out of the way. Manchester City did play very badly and did not perform to their full potential.
The Citizens will enjoy far better performances in Europe this season, but Manuel Pellegrini got his tactics all wrong in this clash.
Everybody connected with Manchester City must have realised how the Bavarians were going to play in this game. The Bayern midfield is the hub their team, yet City boss Pellegrini decided to play with two up front.
Bayern had an extra man in the centre of midfield and boy did they exploit it to good effect. It was easy to see that City’s central midfielders Yaya Toure and Fernandinho were getting overrun in midfield, but Pellegrini decide not to change his system.
Only when City changed their system late in the game and brought on David Silva did City start to look like a threat to the German visitors. However, by that time it was too little too late for the home side to get anything from the game.
Even the late sending-off of former-City defender Jerome Boateng did not stop Bayern heading home with maximum points. I cannot help thinking that the game may have been very different had City started the game with three in the centre of midfield.
Silva was obviously not fully-fit after only recently returning from injury, but his presence in the role behind the striker unsettled Bayern. It also meant that the Bayern midfield were not free to go forward at will and create more chances up the other end.
I am a big fan of Manuel Pellegrini, but he got his team selection and tactics completely wrong against the best team in Europe.
Despite the change of boss, Bayern Munich have kept great continuity to their team from last season. In previous years Bayern had a habit of making changes every summer, which have destabilised their team.
However, Pep Guardiola arriving in Munich has not destabilised the team at all. In fact the former-Barcelona boss might have added something to the Bayern team, adding an element of tiki-taka to the European champions team.
Last season Bayern were by far the strongest team in the competition and from this display they are still the team to beat in the Champions League. If anything the German champions may even be stronger than last season.
The addition of the much-lauded Guardiola will no doubt add something to the Bavarians play. The signings of the likes of Mario Gotze and Thiago Alcantara will give Bayern even more options in midfield. The rest of Europe could be in major trouble if Bayern continue in their current vein.
The way that Bayern are currently playing the German champions could be in for a period of European dominance of the like they enjoyed in the 1970’s, when they won three European Cups in a row.
Bayern boss Pep Guardiola believes that City will still qualify for the knockout stages. If they are going to make it to the latter stages of the competition then there will need to be an improvement on their performance against the German champions.
City have already equalled their points tally from last season’s Champions League campaign, which was not hard. As I stated in yesterday’s article I believe that City will be better in Europe under Pellegrini.
However, I hope for City’s sake that Pellegrini learns from his mistakes against Bayern. Even at 62-year-old I am sure that the Chilean can learn managerial lessons, Bayern certainly taught City a football lesson in last night’s encounter.
Manchester City were expected to be major challengers for the Champions League this season, simply because of the amount of money they spent this summer. However, if that is how they perform against a major contender like Bayern then they are unlikely to be challengers for the trophy this season.
Can Manchester City recover the Bayern defeat and win the competition?