The meeting with AS Roma at the Allianz Arena was never going to be as spectacular as the record-breaking 7-1 triumph two weeks earlier at the Stadio Olimpico, but FC Bayern would book their place in the knockout stages two weeks early with a calm and measured performance that would only emphasise the gulf in class between the two teams. On a damp night in Munich, Bayern wouldn’t really need to go further than second gear to dispose of a solid but insipid Roma side.
Coach Pep Guardiola would once again make small changes to the eleven that had started against Dortmund on Saturday, with Thomas Müller taking a rest and Arjen Robben out with a stomach bug. Brazilian Rafinha would return on the left of the defensive unit with David Alaba moving into the midfield, while Franck Ribéry would also line up at the start. Roma coach Rudi Garcia would leave Gervinho – by a distance their most dangerous player in the previous encounter – on the bench alongside elder statesman Francesco Totti and England left-back Ashley Cole, while ‘keeper Morgan de Sanctis – clearly traumatised after the seven-goal battering – would make way for Polish international Łukasz Skorupski.
The opening exchanges of the first half would see a far more compact Roma side hold their own in the face of Bayern’s dominant possession game, but the home side would create the better opportunities. Juan Bernat would see his effort cleared by Vasilis Torosidis, and well-struck Phillip Lahm shot from the edge of the box would be easily collected by Skorupski. At the other end Roma would almost catch Bayern with a well orchestrated break, but Radja Nainggolan would panic with the goal at his mercy. The Belgian would hit the deck theatrically under the challenge from Manuel Neuer, but referee Cüneyt Çakır would wave play on.
The Turkish official could have shown the Belgian the yellow card for what was a clear act of simulation, but by the same token Medhi Benatia would escape at least twice for rough challenges. In all, it would make for a free-flowing game.
Seven minutes before half-time Guardiola’s patient tactics would finally pay off, as the impressive Alaba skipped down the left before sending an intelligent cutback into the centre of the penalty area. Ribéry would time his run into the box perfectly before striking the ball low into the bottom right-hand corner of the net from some ten yards with that lethal right foot to break the deadlock.
Franck Ribéry opens the scoring with a calm sweep of his right foot after thirty-eight minutes
It would be much the same story in the second half, as Die Roten continued to dominate the possession and deny their opponents time on the ball. Bernat, Alaba and Benatia would all have half-chances, but the issue would effectively the settled four minutes after the hour by Mario Götze. With the Bayern front line switching around and confusing their opponents target man Robert Lewandowski would turn provider, finding space down the left before sending in a well-timed cross for Götze to dink into the top right-hand side of the net on the volley.
Mario Götze dinks the ball past Lukasz Skorupski to secure the win and with it Bayern’s place in the knockout stages
Bayern would be now be in cruise control mode, but the one real threatening move from the Italian side would bring the best out of Manuel Neuer – who despite having had nothing to do would show just why he is the best goalkeeper in the world. With six minutes remaining the Munich number one would get down low to make a sharp save from substitute Gervinho, before leaping acrobatically to his left to turn away a well-struck effort from Nainggolan. It was nothing short of magnificent.
The final whistle would mark the end of a satisfactory evening for the Bavarians, but things would be dampened somewhat with the sight of Alaba leaving the ground on crutches after suffering knee ligament damage. He is likely to be out for two to three weeks pending further assessment, but will be hoping to make the team when Bayern resume their Champions’ League campaign against Manchester City in the final week of November.
UEFA Champions’ League Group Phase Week 4
Allianz Arena, München, 05.11.2014
FC Bayern 2:0 (1:0) AS Roma
Ribéry 38., Götze 64. / –
FC Bayern: Neuer – Rafinha, Benatia, Boateng, Bernat – Alonso (72. Shaqiri) – Lahm (c) (88. Højbjerg), Alaba (81. Rode) – Götze, Ribéry – Lewandowski
Roma: Skorupski – Torosidis, Yanga-Mbiwa, Manolas, Holebas (46. Cole) – Florenzi (58. Pjanić), de Rossi (c), Keita, Nainggolan – Iturbe (74. Gervinho) – Destro
Yellow Cards: Alonso / –