Boateng bags Bayern points in Champions League clash with City
Be honest, punters. You didn’t have Jerome Boateng as a goalscorer on your betting slip for Manchester City’s Champions League trip to Bayern Munich did you?
A deflected effort at the death from the former Etihad defender left travelling fans and the Premier League champions deflated. Europe’s elite club competition continues to be cruel to City, but that is the nature of this beast.
In the build-up to this Allianz Arena encounter, British TV coverage contained an interview with Vincent Kompany about his old teammate Boateng. The City captain remains great friends with a fellow defender that he also played alongside at Hamburg. This camaraderie may be a little less warm now.
Munich manager Pep Guardiola sent his side out here in as fluid a fashion as the ‘Total Football’ blueprint best associated with Johan Cruyff at Barcelona. The legendary Dutchman took that from his playing days to Spain, and now a Spaniard he coached at the Nou Camp has exported it to Germany expertly.
No such thing as fixed positions at Bayern, with Austrian left-footer David Alaba a typical example. Wing back, central defence and midfield berths were all his throughout this one. There was a certain pragmatism from Guardiola here, as he identified yet another sluggish showing from Yaya Toure in City’s engine room.
Loose, lethargic, laboured; the Ivorian did not relish doing dirty work in midfield, but hardly improved when freed up by the introduction of James Milner. Toure’s fine form last term looks more and more like a flash in the pan.
Joe Hart alone kept City in this group stage game with four fine saves, but ultimately his defence let him down late on. Munich sub Claudio Pizarro – yes, he is still playing – got to the by-line and the visitors failed to clear his high ball, which Mario Gotze used to tee up Boateng.
Bayern, switching between a back three and four-man defence, were given just two scary moments by City – one in each half. Edin Dzeko bent an effort wide on the counter before the break, while Sergio Aguero came off the bench to poke past Manuel Neuer but wide.
Those instances apart, Munich were on top for long periods, thwarted only by Hart and the Spanish referee’s refusal to award them penalties for harsh handball shouts and vintage Arjen Robben antics. City could’ve had a spot kick themselves, as David Silva went down under the challenge of Bayern debutant Mehdi Benatia, yet there was nothing doing.
Manuel Pellegrini, who had to watch from the stands as he completed a touchline suspension, is 3/1 to take his charges to top spot in Group E, and odds-on to advance from this pool at 2/7. City’s next opponents Roma look attractive at 6/5 to reach the knockout phase, however, having put five past CKSA Moscow.