opinions | 2015-05-01
The Pep Episodes (VI)
A bizarre cup loss and two pivotal injuries shocks Bayern
"The Triple Shock", went the headline of kicker sports magazine on Thursday, summing up the three unfortunate incidents that happened in Bayern’s bizarre domestic cup semifinal loss against Borussia Dortmund: “Out of the Cup, Robben and Lewandowski injured badly,” it added.
The previous and new league winners, who celebrated their 25th title on Sunday sitting “on the sofa”, as many German newspapers put it, feared the consequences of the cup semifinal; more than the defeat, but the ramifications they had to announce afterwards.
Robben's season is over
The sought-after triple is gone, but the worse news was that Robben’s season is over, as Bayern already confirmed. Lewandowski has broken his nose and jaw, suffered a concussion and is not sure to play against Barça, the doctors will decide before the game. Regardless, Bayern's boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is confident that the world-class striker will feature at the Camp Nou: “I am firmly convinced that he will play on Wednesday,” Rummenigge said. “A mask that will ensure his presence is being made for him,” he added.
But what happend at the cup tie against Borussia Dortmund? Well, quite a lot: It looked good for about 60 minutes; Bayern were cruising to the final thanks to Robert Lewandowski's goal which grabbed them the lead in the first half. But then pretty much everything got out of control: Robben had to be subbed off, injured after a short 16-minute-comeback and has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a muscle injury in his calf. (Once again, the inevitable questions came up: Has Pep Guardiola forced Robben’s comeback too fast? Was it that necessary to sub him in after his month-long absence?). At the end of extra time, Lewandowski got hit in the face by Dortmund's goalkeeper Mitch Langerak.
A grotesque and historical penalty shootout
With Robben’s injury and Thiago’s substitution (he got a little knock, but said it's no big deal), Bayern lost control in a game they had dominated quite easily until then. Dortmund equalized through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and made it to extra time. There, BVB hauled themselves with 10 men to a penalty shoot-out and got as lucky as you could never imagine. Lahm slipped from the spot, Xabi Alonso also slipped, the former BVB hero-turned-traitor Mario Götze missed, then Manuel Neuer - yes, the keeper attempted the fourth penalty - fired the ball against the crossbar. Bayern lost yet another penalty shootout in their own stadium, as they did against Chelsea in the dramatic Champions League final in 2012.
It surely was the most grotesque penalty shootout in recent memory – and a historic one too, since it was the first time in Bayern’s long history that they weren’t able to convert at least one penalty. “A night like a comic strip” - quite a fitting summary by Süddeutsche Zeitung.
After the whistle, Guardiola went to defend his team and hailed their approach. “It was the best game of my era against BVB,” said the Catalan, but many outlets noted that the Bavarians couldn't finish a weak opponent off when they were superior; and after the equalizer, they stumbled for 15 minutes and almost lost against a braver opponent.
Barça versus Bayern: Who fears whom?
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung even noted that maybe Bayern overestimated themselves a little bit. “High from the 6-1 against Porto, Bayern thought they would be the team everybody on the planet fears the most. But maybe that team rather is Barcelona, whom they face next,” the daily newspaper warned. The game against Dortmund really didn't work out like how the German champions must have imagined. “It was the worst possible dress rehearsal imaginable for Barcelona,” writes German journalist Raphael Honigstein for ESPN, pointing out rightly: “Just when Guardiola thought he had weathered his team's injury crisis, disaster has struck to put all his best-laid plans against his former team in doubt.”
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The Pep Episodes are a weekly column about the adventures of Pep Guardiola in Munich by Alex Truica. You can follow him on twitter: @kicker_atr
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WRITTEN BY: Alex Truica
Creator of The Pep Episodes. Has a Bachelor degree in journalism and works as a freelance sports journalist and editor, covering international football.