The 2019/20 UEFA Champions League champions, Bayern Munich, began their knockout stages in poor form as they drew a way to Red Bull Salzburg in their first leg of their round of 16 time of the current UEFA Champions League season.
The hosts RB Salzburg went ahead when substitute Chukwubuike Adamu fired in after 21 minutes on the clock. The match winner from the 2019/20 final, Kingsley Coman, scored a dying minute goal to help Bayern set up a nice return leg at the Allianz Arena.
However with the away goals rule now being history in the Champions League and other European competitions, Bayern will have to be at their best to beat a Salzburg team that looks like they are going to be the dark horses in this year’s Champions League title race.
Salzburg started the game on the front foot. However the first chance and save of the night came courtesy of Bayern when Serge Gnabry forced Salzburg keeper Philipp John into a smart save.
In the 12th minute, Noah Okafor had to be substituted due to injury and was replaced by the goal scorer to Chukwubuike Adamu. Bayern summer transfer target, Karim Adeyemi drove at the home defence and laid the ball into the path of American Brenden Aaronson who touched the ball into the path of Adamu to score past Sven Ulreich in the Bayern goal.
The match continued to be an end-to-end affair as both Salzburg and Bayern went at each other forcing saves from both goalkeepers who had to be on the top of their games.
Coman eventually touched in a wonderful flick from Thomas Muller to help Bayern set up a beautiful return leg at the Allianz Arena next Tuesday.
Bayern came into the round of 16 tie on the back of a loss to minnow club VfL Bochum in the Bundesliga last weekend.
Nagelsmann changed his starting lineup from the one that felt had a way to Bochum in the Bundesliga but left Gnabry, Coman, Muller, Robert Lewandowski and Leroy Sane in the team.
Following the terms and to the first leg, Nagelsmann spoke in his pre-match conference and said that he was pleased with his side’s showing at Salzburg.
“Yes, then again in the second half. The first one wasn’t like Bochum, but it was also very error-prone. The goal that was conceded was actually relatively easy to defend,” the German tactician said.
“It was a balancing act in the second half because we defended offensively.”
Nagelsmann also praised Coman who was the source of most of Bayern’s attack in their second half renaissance away at Salzburg.
“He was really good there. He can even cross to Lewy once, so we still have a great chance. Great performance from him,” he said of Coman’s contributions in the game.
As has become typical with most football matches, Nagelsmann also had some words for the referee who officiated the time. Michael Oliver was assigned to the match and before the game began, Bayern had complained to UEFA about the selection of the Englishman to oversee their fixture.
Some of his decisions did not sit well with Nagelsmann and the German mentioned it in his post-match talks.
“The referee tells me that was a wrong whistle! So I ask why we have described this VAR. You let it continue, then see if Leroy shoots the ball into a goal that is only occupied by a field player — and if it was a foul, you take the goal back,” Nagelsmann said of a particular incident involving Sane.
“I don’t understand why we allow offside positions to continue for 28 minutes and then whistle. You could have waited here! That was a 100% chance to score. An incredibly bad decision.” he passionately argued.
Captain of the night, Muller, wasn’t too pleased with his teammates’ performance, but give compliments to the efforts of their opponents.
“Salzburg is a good team,” Muller began. “The atmosphere in the audience was great. That’s how you imagine football. Even if we had to suffer, more than we thought we would.
“Salzburg did well, but I still think we showed a good reaction in the second half, we had several good chances to score.”
Muller also said that his side lacked the courage to finish off their chances against Salzburg, but was happy with the eventual equaliser.
“Sometimes, we perhaps lacked a bit of courage. Especially in the first half, we could have created more chances, but good.
“Sometimes we try too hard to find a good solution. But with Choupo, Lewy, and me, we had three good headers in the end. Then the balls also have to get into the penalty box.”