Sevilla 1-2 Bayern Munich: 5 Talking Points

Bayern Munich are now halfway through to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League

The quarter-final stage of the UEFA Champions League got underway last night, as two of the four games were played. One of which saw LaLiga side Sevilla host the defending champions and current leaders of the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich.

Both sides headed into the game high on confidence. Sevilla had edged Manchester United out of the competition just under 3 weeks ago, and more recently, had matched Barcelona toe-to-toe in a 2-2 draw - They might even have won, had it not been for a certain demi-god who answers to the name of Lionel Messi - while Bayern had just dispatched of Borussia Dortmund - one of their greatest rivals - in an emphatic 6-0 victory just days ago.

Bayern were certainly the favourites going into the two-legged tie, and by the end of last night's match, even more so. In a heated, foul-filled encounter, it was Sevilla who opened the scoring through Pablo Sarabia (who should've, in all honesty, had his first goal much earlier) in the 32nd minute of the game.

Just 5 minutes later, Sevilla did themselves no favours as they allowed a Jesus Navas-deflected shot to slip into their own goal, giving their German visitors a blessing of an equaliser, and more importantly, an away goal.

Jupp Heynckes' side though, had smelled blood and they ostensibly craved more. The second half saw Bayern create chances aplenty before Thiago Alcantara made the most of a perfectly-lobbed Franck Ribery cross to find the back of the net in the 68th minute.

Fighting a 2-1 deficit at the Allianz Arena will be no small task by any means, and Bayern will remain clear-cut favourites to qualify for the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League.

However, before we start to dream about the second leg, here's a look at 5 key talking points from last night's first-leg match:

#5 The game was lucky to see no red

Daniele Orsat
Daniele Orsato should've been stricter with his bookings

With both sides expectedly giving it all, tempers were bound to flare, and fouls were inevitably going to be made. Referee Daniele Orsato, however, seemed to have decided to stand his ground and not get forced into making an early booking.

From the very get-go, both sides attacked aggressively, with players from both sides going down far too frequently - some upon contact, some for the sake of it. In fact, it almost seemed as if both teams had decided to test Orsato.

By the 12th minute of the game, the commentators were already befuddled as to how no bookings had been made by then. Yes, such was the nature of the game.

Coincidentally, as if on cue, the first card of the game was shown to Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery in the 13th minute after 3 Sevilla players went down in the same stretch of play, within a span of 10 seconds.

Eventually, a total of 5 yellow cards - 3 for Bayern and 2 for Sevilla - was all that referee Orsato was willing to impose. In a game as intense as last night's, either team could've very easily seen red, considering that a total of 21 fouls were committed. (Bayern - 9, Sevilla - 12)

#4 Sevilla's inability to convert chances and hold a lead continues to cost them

Pablo Sara
Pablo Sarabia did score a goal, but he also missed a couple of easy chances

Contrary to how the final scoreline read, Sevilla were the better side in the first half and did, by far, create better chances. The best of which, came in the 20th minute when Pablo Sarabia was put on goal inside the box.

Instead of coolly slotting the ball home, Sarabia decided to try and artistically place it into the top right corner, subsequently going on to miss an absolute sitter that would've undeniably given Sevilla an earlier lead and perhaps, far greater momentum.

The hosts mustered a total of 9 shots, 4 of which were on target - so there's no problem with chance creation. What will deeply concern manager Vincenzo Montella, though, is that the conversion rate just isn't good enough.

Just days after relinquishing a 2-0 lead over runaway LaLiga leaders, Barcelona, Vincenzo Montella's side threw away yet another crucial lead against another big side last night, and with the second leg to be played in a week from now at the Allianz Arena, Montella may not have enough time for damage control.

#3 Is Sven Ulreich good enough to temporarily succeed Manuel Neuer?

Sven Ulreich has had to fill some pretty big boots

Having established himself as the first-team goalkeeper and going on to become a mainstay in the Stuttgart first-team for 5 full seasons, Sven Ulreich moved to Bayern Munich before the start of the 2015-16 season.

Since then, in the presence of Manuel Neuer, Ulreich has had little to do at the Bavarian club. In his two full seasons at Bayern before the ongoing one, making just 10 appearances across all competitions.

This season, though, Neuer's injury meant that Ulreich would have to step up and defend the sticks, and defend he has. He has already made a total of 36 appearances in all competitions, already.

In the Bundesliga, he has played 23 games and has kept 11 clean sheets, conceding an average of 0.78 goals per game, while making an average of 1.39 saves per game.

In the UEFA Champions League, he has played 7 games and has kept just 2 clean sheets. However, here too, he has conceded just 0.78 goals per game, while making an impressive average of 3 saves per game.

So far, he has made the most of the opportunity as Bayern seem to be excelling on all fronts. At the age of 29, he may not be a long-term alternative to Neuer. His biggest test, though, is yet to come in the form of whichever team Bayern will have to take on in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League, if and when they qualify.

If Bayern do qualify and Ulreich can manage to deny the best of the best from finding the back of the net, then there's no doubt that he's not just good enough for the Bundesliga, but also at the European level.

#2 Vincenzo Montella will pray for a miracle or two at the Allianz Arena

Tough times ahead for Vincenzo Montella and Sevilla

After last night's defeat, Sevilla's manager, Vincenzo Montella, is bound to have a few sleepless nights ahead. What will haunt him more than the defeat itself, is the fact that Bayern Munich now have 2 away goals.

Which essentially means that in order for Sevilla to qualify for the semi-finals, they will have to score at least two goals and ensure that Bayern score one fewer than themselves in the second leg.

Except, the problem that now arises is that the second leg is going to be played at the Allianz Arena - where Bayern Munich are nothing short of indomitable.

For context, the last time Bayern lost a home game in the Bundesliga was all the way back on the 3rd of March, 2016 in a 1-2 defeat to FSV Mainz 05. That's more than 2 whole years ago! Over the last 3 seasons, they've played 48 league games at home, won 40, drawn 7 and lost 0. Now that's some home record!

Further, in the same period, barring Real Madrid, no team have beaten them at home in the UEFA Champions League as well. And I mean no disrespect to Sevilla when I say this, but they're no Real Madrid.

The Allianz Arena has brought the best to their knees. It's the one place Bayern Munich are next to invincible, and Sevilla will have to dig deeper than they ever have if they're to overthrow the German kings in their own Bavarian backyard.

#1 Bayern look set to withstand Spanish jinx

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Will the Spanish curse be lifted?

Bayern Munich last won the UEFA Champions League in the 2012-13 season, when they beat Barcelona with an aggregate of 7-0 over two legs in the semi-finals, before going on to beat arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund in the final.

Ever since then, the German giants have seemingly been plagued by a curse of sorts. Not just have they failed to win another European title, but more astonishingly, they have always been knocked out by Spanish sides.

In the 2013-14 edition of the tournament, they were beaten by Real Madrid in the semi-finals. In 2014-15 too, they were knocked out in the semi-finals, but this time, by Barcelona. They made to the semi-finals in the 2015-16 edition of the tournament as well, and this time, it was Atletico Madrid that got the better of them.

Matters only got worse in the last season, when they were prematurely eliminated in the quarter-finals stage itself, by Real Madrid, yet again.

Somehow, Spanish sides have transformed into the 5-time recurring Bundesliga champions' kryptonite over the last few years, and the Bavarians finally seem like they might survive an encounter with a side from Spain. Sevilla may be placed 7th in LaLiga, but they're still Spanish.

Favourites to qualify for the semi-finals, Bayern could still end up facing either Real Madrid or Barcelona, should the two LaLiga giants also qualify.

Whether or not they can go on to break the jinx remains to be seen. For now, Jupp Heynckes and his side have one foot through to the semi-finals of Europe's biggest footballing competition, and in two weeks' time, could force the other one through as well.

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Edited by Amit Mishra
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