Today, football enthusiasts were treated to a feast with the thrilling 7-goal match between the Bavarians and the Red Devils in the debut of Group A of the 23/24 Champions League.
Bayern 4 x 3 Manchester United
Bayern Munich started the season poorly after suffering a resounding 3-0 defeat to RB Leipzig in the German Super Cup final. However, after the loss, the team restructured, and the Bavarians have put together a fine campaign in the Bundesliga so far, with 3 wins and 1 draw, firmly led by the enigmatic Thomas Tuchel.
On the other side, Manchester United seems to have not yet found their desired rhythm this season, with only 6 points in 5 Premier League games. There were many transfers at the Devils in the last transfer window, and the team still appears somewhat disoriented.
Both teams took to the field in the classic 4-2-3-1 formation, a setup that allows for good compactness and width, with variations throughout the match.
The Bavarians started with: Ulreich; Laimer, Upamecano, Kim Min Jae, and Davies; Joshua Kimmich and Goretzka; Sané, Musiala, and Gnabry, with Harry Kane up front.
Meanwhile, United began with: André Onana; Diego Dalot, Lindelöf, Lisandro Martínez, and Reguilón; Casemiro and Eriksen; Pellistri, Bruno Fernandes, and Rashford, with the youngster Hojlund in attack.
The game started with both teams studying each other, but early on, Manchester United managed to get closer to the opposition’s area. Just 3 minutes into the game, after applying pressure in the attacking third, Eriksen stole the ball, invaded the area from the left, and found a beautiful pass to Pellistri at the far post. The youngster was about to open the scoring, but Davies, somewhat recklessly but with extreme precision, made a crucial sliding tackle to deny the shot.
The game was very tactical, and neither team could find a way to finish their opportunities. However, after the first quarter of the game, Bayern began to organize themselves better and executed precise short passes in an attempt to break through Manchester United’s previously solid defense. At the 27-minute mark, Laimer managed to carry the ball almost to the byline. The full-back left the ball for Sané, who dribbled towards the center until finding Kane as a pivot. Kane deftly flicked the ball with his heel, allowing the German to take a shot. The ball headed towards the goal, and Onana made a mistake while trying to capture it. It was 1-0 for Bayern.
Who would have thought that the best goalkeeper of the previous Champions League would make a blunder in his debut for Manchester United in the competition? With that goal, Bayern became more comfortable and started passing the ball even faster, especially to exploit the infiltrations of their wingers, as well as Musiala, who began to float more on the field.
In one of these movements, Musiala sped down the left flank, entered the box, skillfully dribbled past Dalot cutting inside, and delivered a perfectly weighted pass to Gnabry. Gnabry received the ball and, with a first-time left-footed shot, found the far corner, making it 2-0 for Bayern at the 31-minute mark of the first half.
Bayern continued to be strong until the end of the first half, both in the overlapping runs of Musiala and on the wings with Sané and Gnabry. At the 44th minute, Sané made a beautiful play on the left, dribbling past the defender cutting inside, and unleashed a powerful left-footed shot that skimmed the post. To the relief of Manchester United, the first half came to an end.
Manchester United started the second half well, especially on the left, with Reguilón’s surges. Rashford moved a bit closer and became an option inside the box. That’s how the first goal for the Red Devils happened. Just 3 minutes into the second half, Reguilón controlled the ball nicely on the left and delivered a good cross into the box. The Bayern defense cleared it, but the ball fell to Casemiro, who made a beautiful touch to Rashford. Rashford, in one touch, set it up for Hojlund, who calmly controlled and fired a strong shot into the net, making it 2-1.
After the goal, United gained momentum, and it seemed they would break through the Bavarian defense again at any moment. However, not everything goes smoothly, and when luck isn’t on your side, forget it. At the 50-minute mark, just 2 minutes after the goal, Manchester conceded a penalty. Kimmich took a long corner kick to the far post for Upamecano, who rose and headed the ball. The ball hit Eriksen’s clearly open hand, resulting in a penalty for Bayern. Harry Kane carefully set it up and fired it firmly to the right of Onana, making it 3-1.
From that point on, the game seemed to be decided. Bayern controlled the game well and grew even stronger after the entry of Choupo-Moting in place of the talented Musiala. The Cameroonian almost scored a sensational goal at the 77th minute. Harry Kane received the ball in the box and headed it to Choupo-Moting, who controlled and unleashed a rocket towards the top corner. However, Onana made a fantastic save this time.
With the entry of Garnacho and Martial in the 81st minute, Manchester United became faster and more incisive, attacking Bayern well from the flanks. At the 87th minute, Martial dribbled the ball on the right and tried to evade the Bavarian defense. He found a good pass to Rashford, who switched the play to Garnacho. The young Argentine dribbled towards the center and found B. Fernandes, who immediately played Rashford at the edge of the box. Rashford managed a high pass to Casemiro, who controlled the ball in mid-air, attempted to cut past the defense, and fell to the ground. Even so, he didn’t give up and, while falling, precisely struck the ball to reduce the score to 3-2.
Manchester United threw themselves forward, desperately trying to equalize, but they forgot that on the other side was a team with many resources that hardly wastes counterattacks. Well, at the 90th minute, Kimmich found a beautiful long-range pass from behind the midfield to the young Tel. Tel controlled the ball inside the box and sealed Bayern’s victory with a powerful shot, making it 4-2.
But hold on, the game wasn’t over yet. Those who thought the match was already decided were mistaken. Manchester United didn’t want to acknowledge that there was little time left and kept trying to score. At the 94th minute, almost at the end of injury time, Bruno Fernandes unleashed a powerful free-kick towards the goal. Casemiro deflected it, scoring one more for the Red Devils. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time left to avoid the defeat.
To make the night even more special for the Germans, Thomas Müller, after coming on in Bayern’s victory, secured his 100th win in the Champions League. He became the third player to reach this milestone, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo (115 wins) and Casillas (101 wins).
1st Round Champions 23/24
Galatasaray 2 x 2 Copenhagen; Bayern Munich 4 x 3 Manchester United
Arsenal 4 x 0 PSV; Sevilla 1 x 1 Lens
Real Madrid 1 x 0 Union Berlin; Braga 1 x 2 Napoli
Benfica 0 x 2 Red Bull Salzburg; Real Sociedad 1 x 1 Inter Milan
Feyenoord 2 x 0 Celtic; Lazio 1 x 1 Atletico Madrid
Milan 0 x 0 Newcastle; PSG 2 x 0 Borussia Dortmund
Young Boys 1 x 3 RB Leipzig; Manchester City 3 x 1 Red Star Belgrade
Shakhtar Donetsk 1 x 3 Porto; Barcelona 5 x 0 Royal Antwerp
Written by João Felipe Miller