It’s been a typical Bayern performance thus far at the Etihad Stadium, albeit against better competition. During the first half at Manchester City, the holders have monopolized play, but robust defending at the edge of their penalty area has kept the Sky Blues within one. And if it wasn’t for another Joe Hart gaff, Franck Ribéry might not be on the scoresheet at all.
For as much gushing as we (well, I) have done over Atlético Madrid during the last four days — talking about their unmatched résumé and a tenacity that can beat anybody in Europe — Bayern’s first half performance reminds us who wears UEFA’s crown. Two weeks ago, as we debated which of them or Borussia Dortmund were really the better side, they make CSKA’s visit to the Allianz into a lesson on Guardiola’s vision. Today, that vision has neutered Manchester City, with only the likes of Vincent Kompany distinguishing one of England’s big spenders from the Bundesliga teams Bayern dominate each week.
Elsewhere, Paris Saint-Germain has exerted a similar dominance over visiting Benfica, though they’ve managed to transfer it onto the scoresheet. Two goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a third in five games form Brazilian defender Marquinhos have the reigning Ligue 1 champions up 3-0 on sputtering Benfica.
Real Madrid also has a lead, Cristiano Ronaldo’s 21st minute goal putting the Merenques up on visiting Copenhagen, while Manchester United got a valuable first half goal from Danny Welbeck to take a 1-0 lead into half at the Donbass Arena. Likewise, Olympiacos as used a Konstantinos Mitroglou goal to go up one at Anderlecht (who’ve missed a penalty kick), while Didier Drogba, on Roberto Mancini’s debut, has given Galatasaray a shock lead at Juventus. And in Germany, an injury time goal from captain Simon Rolfes has finally put a marauding Bayer Leverkusen up on Real Sociedad.
Here is your halftime snapshot, with numbers courtesy of Opta and WhoScored.com:
|A||Shakhtar Donetsk-Manchester United||0-1||3-3||1-1||56-44|
|A||Bayer Leverkusen-Real Sociedad||1-0||16-2||7-2||45-55|
|D||CSKA Moscow-Viktoria Plzen (Final)||3-2||18-12||6-5||48-52|
|D||Manchester City-Bayern Munich||0-1||2-9||1-2||25-75|