Women’s football: Champions League: FC Bayern is missing something at the top of Europe

Munich’s Georgia Stanway (left) couldn’t put up enough resistance to Noelle Maritz’ arsenal in the rain in London.

Photo: imago/Phil Hutchinson

After the final whistle, Tuva Hansen had to be comforted by team manager Alexandra Milchgiesser. The FC Bayern Munich defender made a fatal mistake in the rain in London in the 19th minute of the second leg of the quarter-finals in the Champions League against Arsenal, which initiated the first goal conceded by Frida Maanum. The self-reproaches were obvious.

To attribute the sobering 0:2 defeat on Wednesday and the associated elimination of the Munich women from the queen class to this action would not go far enough. Much more, the whole team was beside itself in the first half and showed a performance that was surprising after 14 competitive wins in a row and most recently seven successes without conceding a goal. The defense wobbled, made mistakes and couldn’t get hold of Arsenal’s attacking players. When the second goal was conceded by the Swede Stina Blackstenius (26th), the Munich defense also did not look good.

The attack of the Bayern women did not find its way into the usual game and could neither cause danger nor provide relief. Only the good goalkeeper Mala Grohs and the not particularly consistent exploitation of chances by the »Gunners« prevented a debacle up to half-time. »In the first half we simply slept for 20 minutes and were too careless at the back. We had slight play errors, which were then punished coldly. So Arsenal deserved it,” said captain Lina Magull soberly.

Coach Alexander Straus was also disappointed. “We’ve given the game away in ten, fifteen minutes. Things happened to us that don’t normally happen to us,” said the Norwegian. Straus made the change at half-time, and the team then got into the game much better. After last week’s 1-0 home win in the first leg, the Munich team were just one goal away from going into extra time. But despite the fact that Straus brought on two strikers, Jovana Damnjanović and Ivana Rudelić, he failed to pose any real threat to former Bayern and current Arsenal goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger.

Just four days after winning the top game in the Bundesliga against VfL Wolfsburg, the team just seemed to run out of strength. Without the ailing Carolin Simon and Tainara, as well as long-term injuries Linda Dallmann and Giulia Gwinn, Straus also lacked the alternatives to rotate effectively.

The long-awaited step into the final of the Champions League was missed again. In the 2018/19 season, Bayern had made it to the semi-finals and narrowly lost to Barcelona. Two years ago they lost to Chelsea in the last four. “It’s frustrating to be eliminated in the quarterfinals or semifinals like in previous years,” Magull said angrily.

It’s also annoying that there won’t be another highlight game in the men’s big home arena in the semifinals. There still seems to be a long way to go to the top of Europe. However, those responsible are well aware that a lot has to come together in order to be able to play for the title in the Champions League. In any case, the first season under Straus was planned as a season of upheaval, the attack on Europe’s top should be accelerated in the coming years.

For the time being, however, Bayern can fully concentrate on defending their lead in the Bundesliga on the last six matchdays and winning the championship, which is their most important title. The elimination of the triple burden could even be good for the squad, which is particularly thin on the defensive. On Sunday, the Munich team face relegation-threatened SV Meppen, a good opportunity to get back on track after the disappointment in London. Finally, after the international break, on April 15, the semi-finals of the DFB Cup against the defending champions from Wolfsburg are coming up. “We can still achieve a lot this season and will keep fighting,” announced Straus.


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