Winning trophies and Bayern Munich are synonymous right now. For a long time, Europe and World Football have not witnessed such a stronger club, who plays with a ruthless fashion, and even when the game becomes tighter, they just find a way to stay in the game and ultimately win it. The Royal Whites – Real Madrid and AC Milan had such intensity to win with great panache and leave their mark.

But at times, even such teams find the going tough!

Just a few months back, Bayern completed the treble and their UEFA Champions League journey had been nothing short of a brutal display. The next challenge was the UEFA Super Cup clash against the sturdy Sevilla, who are habituated to fight back and make the opposition sweat.

Bayern struggled against a stubborn Sevilla side who had been unbeaten since February – a run that included a record sixth triumph in the Europa League, formerly the UEFA Cup – and when they went ahead through Lucas Ocampos penalty.

Luuk de Jong’s cushioned header reached Ivan Rakitic, and the midfielder – back at the club after re-joining from Barcelona – was barged over by David Alaba, with Ocampos outfoxing Neuer from a no-look spot-kick.

Julen Lopetegui planned to neutralize the unfettered swagger of Bayern by relying on counterattacks with a quick one-touch football.  Then, press the Bayern defense and Manuel Neuer up high, to keep Flick’s men from pushing the defense up the pitch. This keeps Bayern from congesting the field of play, a key aspect of Hansi Flick’s tactics.

Again, defend in a medium-block with enough emphasis on the flanks, to isolate the wingers from the full-backs. This would prevent Bayern from overloading the flanks, and cut off the supply to Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski.

The plan of Lopetegui worked and the German Giants found the going tough, but they bounced back.

Lewandowski failed to beat Yassine Bounou from a one-on-one as Bayern responded, but he made up for that before half-time, laying the ball back for Leon Goretzka to pick his spot and score the equalizer.

Bayern thought they had the lead within six minutes of the restart after Muller teed up Lewandowski, having initially been presented with the chance himself by the Pole, but VAR spotted Bayern’s number nine was offside when first collecting Leroy Sane’s pass.

Bounou denied Serge Gnabry and Diego Carlos blocked the rebound from Sane, who had a goal disallowed himself after Lewandowski was adjudged to have fouled Sergio Escudero in the build-up.

Sevilla responded – Lopetegui masterfully set up his team to find space inside Bayern’s suffocating press, and it paid rich dividends.

While Sevilla did all the right things to shut down Bayern Munich in the wide areas – Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry, who had four goals and two assists between them against Schalke, struggled to spread their wings because the fullbacks failed to inject the attacking intent.

With Lucas Hernandez starting ahead of Alphonso Davies, Bayern struggled to create any real pressure down the left flank. Lucas was defensively decent, but what Bayern actually needed was the pace to penetrate the loading of Sevilla in the flanks.

The best of Sevilla’s counterattacks came in the 87th-minute when Jesus Navas set free En-Nesyri, who beat the Bayern defenders and he had only Neuer to beat and strike the winner. The German goalkeeper took the position sideways when he watched En-Nesyri coming forward, thinking he might have to come forward and use his feet, but quickly switched a rather well-set position when he noticed that En-Nesyri would shoot.

En-Nesyri shot and Neuer’s quick reflexes prompted him to make one of the best saves in his career.

Without a doubt, Neuer is still the best goalkeeper in the world.

The game went to extra-time and Javi Martinez was the unlikely hero as he came off the bench to head in the 104th-minute 2-1 and secure the title.


Bayern overcame the Sevilla scare, but from here Hansi Flick needs to evolve because the rest of the clubs would surely study Lopetegui’s tactics and exploit it to stop Bayern Munich.

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