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Exeunt, Pursued by a Bear: Bayern Munich 3-1 Villarreal

We needed a goal here, Marco.
We needed a goal here, Marco.

Villarreal fell 3-1 to Bayern Munich on matchday 5 of the 2011-12 UEFA Champions League. Franck Ribery opened and closed the scoring, while Mario Gómez remained on form with a questionable tally. Jonathan de Guzmán scored the prettiest goal of the match, but it was not enough for the Yellow Submarine to earn its first points of the European campaign.

Napoli's win over Manchester City ensured that Villarreal was eliminated from Europe irrespective of the result in Munich, so no great harm done there. What is more troubling: the somewhat infantile defensive mistakes that led to Ribery's brace.


Bayern Munich (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Rafinha, Boateng, van Buyten, Lahm; Alaba, Tymoshchuk; Robben, Kroos, Ribery; Gómez.

Villarreal (4-2-3-1): D. López; Oriol, Marchena, Musacchio, Mario; Bruno, Ángel; Pérez, Valero, de Guzmán; Ruben.

The dynamic duo of Ribery and Arjen Robben both started on the wings, pushing German international Thomas Muller to the bench. Ángel López entered the doble pivote, and Joan Oriol played 90 minutes at left back. Mateo Musacchio passed a late fitness test to pair with Carlos Marchena at center back.

First Half:

Bayern got on the scoreboard early. A Marchena error landed at the feet of Toni Kroos in a dangerous position. The run to his right was covered, so he waited for Ribery to enter the picture and hit him with an inch-perfect pass. The Frenchman made no mistake, dinking the ball over a sprawling Diego López. And Villarreal was already playing catch-up.

1-0 Ribery 2'

Two officiating decisions punctuated a spell of Bayern dominance. As has often happened this season, both went against the Yellow Submarine. First, Borja Valero played an innocuous pass on the edge of the box, which was cut out by Philipp Lahm. With his outstretched bicep, in the box. Play on, said the referee, and he gave Borja a ridiculous yellow for a legitimate penalty shout.

On the other end, Anatoly Tymoshchuk bombed away from outside the box and hit the post behind López. Mario Gómez walked in the rebound, but to the naked eye, he was clearly behind the last defender. Replays showed the call was very tight, but in such an obvious situation, you would think that the defender would receive the benefit of the doubt. However, the flag stayed down, and Bayern had a two-goal cushion.

2-0 Gómez 23'

Bayern may have let up a bit, with top spot in Group A staring them in the face. It took Villarreal a long while to get into the match, but Valero and the impressive Hernán Pérez finally tested Manuel Neuer at the end of the first half. Still, not much could have been expected of the second 45 minutes.

Half Time: 2-0

Juan Carlos Garrido's men came out with a new lease on life in the second half. Pérez again burst down the left flank, and the marauding Joan Oriol followed suit. Another solid game going forward from our oft-forgotten left back. An Oriol charge occupied Bayern's center backs, allowing him to pick out an unmarked de Guzmán arriving at the far post. The Dutchman still had it all to do, but he struck a beautiful first-time volley to beat a helpless Neuer. A lifeline?

2-1 de Guzmán 49'

The Yellow Submarine took it to Bayern for a few minutes after the goal, but eventually the tide shifted back to the Bavarians. Wakaso Mubarak came on for de Guzmán, and we were still in the match. But another puerile error consigned us to a fifth consecutive European defeat. This time Bruno Soriano gave the ball away cheaply, and another quick counterattack put Ribery in alone on López. The Frenchman calmly rounded our goalie and beat a despairing Marchena to end the scoring.

3-1 Ribery 68'

With the goal, Marcos Senna replaced Ángel in the doble pivote, and Joselu followed in place of Borja. Ruben had a one-on-one chance with Neuer, but it was not the Argentine's day, and the chance was wasted (see above picture). Our rumored target Ivica Olic created a chance or two for Bayern late on, but the match petered out with the hosts' three points in hand.

Full Time: 3-1

A better performance than against Manchester City, as I expected. Our team has had more time to adjust to the new counterattacking style, so the result was not as ugly. But the childish errors by veterans Marchena and Bruno are worrisome, considering our lack of options at those positions.

Now Villarreal can officially turn its attention to La Liga and the Copa del Rey. Our European odyssey may have ended too soon, but we have learned a few things about the team's character. Onward and upward.