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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Porto Defeat Leaves Bayern with their Biggest Character Test Yet

At the final whistle, some FC Porto were left lying on the ground, not celebrating, perhaps overcome with emotions after one of the club’s best European results in recent memory.  They had done a job. A great job. Had you, by your own fault or otherwise, tuned in to watch the match at that point, you’d have been forgiven for thinking Bayern Munich had grabbed a routine Champions League win over some lowly ranked team.

But no.

Bayern were second best at Estadio do Dragao despite wearing the favorites tag right from Friday March 20 when the draw was conducted in Nyon and they were pitted against the Portuguese in the Champions League quarter finals.

However, a trio of defensive lapses paid put to their chances of taking control of the tie. As early as the third minute, the Bayern defence started erring. Xabi Alonso, always known to be a cool customer with the ball at his feet, was perhaps too cocky and miscalculated the distance between him and Porto’s Jackson Martinez. The Colombian, making his return after over a month out with injury dispossessed the Spaniard. Both players fell on the ground but Martinez was faster in recovering.

With the Bayern goal gaping at him, the Porto captain made two touches, his third getting him closer to Manuel Neuer. He moved to round off Neuer but who tripped him with a loose right leg with the referee deciding the contact was illegal enough to warrant a penalty. Quaresma stepped forward, sent Neuer to the left while tucking the ball into the right side of the net for a 1-0 lead.

Seven minutes later, the Bayern defence was at it again. Dante seemed to be in total control when he received the ball just yards from the center circle. However, his first touch was poor allowing Quaresma to close him down, rob the ball and race unchallenged towards Neuer and slot the ball home. 2-0.

Thiago Alcantara scored at the back post in another poorly defended goal just before the half hour mark to make it 2-1. That should have proved a vital away goal but Bayern were caught napping in the 65th minute when Martinez was once again gifted after Jerome Boateng miscalculated the flight of the ball allowing the Colombian to slot home and make it 3-1.

Bayern rallied for another goal but Porto held on to ensure Pep Guardiola’s side lost for the first time in Portuguese soil.

In the aftermath of their defeat, Bayern attacker Thomas Muller took a swipe at the Portuguese club accusing them of ‘parking the bus’ but it’s hard to understand his logic given that Porto scored three times and could have had more had Neuer had an uncustomary bad day in office.

You only score when you ‘unpack the bus’ and venture forward.

The Bavarians were held 0-0 away to Shakhtar Donetsk in the round of 16 but were merciless at the Allianz Arena in the return leg slicing the Ukrainians into pieces in a 7-0 whitewash.

Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and Bastian Schweinsteiger met the first leg clash but will most likely be available for selection in the return leg. The Bundesliga leaders will still be favorites to win their return leg clash against Julen Lopetegui’s FC Porto but whether they can overturn a 3-1 deficit is the biggest question.

On account of their defending on Wednesday night though, it might prove to be a monumental task.

And That’s thesteifmastertake!!