Basel Beat Bayern!

German giants Bayern Munich suffered a shock defeat in the first-leg of their Champions’ League second round tie against  Swiss champions FC Basel, at St. Jakob’s Park on Wednesday night. After a fantastically open first half, in which either side could, and probably should, have a scored more than one goal; Heiko Vogel’s side scored a late winner,  at the end of a much tighter second period, to edge ahead in the tie.

Bayern started the game in confident fashion and, initially, had the better of a fabulous first half, which saw both teams playing top class attacking football. Frank Ribery was on top form for the visitors, and he could have had them at least one goal up in the opening fifteen minutes. Ribery’s first effort came after he controlled a dropping ball inside the area, switched it to his right root, and smacked a half volley on target, which Sommer got down well to save at close range.

Xherdan Shaqiri, Basel’s highly rated attacking midfielder, had the next chance, bursting into the box only for Jerome Boateng to steal the ball of his toe after an unnecessary first touch. In a frenetic period, it was Ribery again who had the chance to put the Germans in control. After being put clean through on Sommer, at an angle, the Frenchman attempted to beat the Swiss Under 21s Captain at his near post, rather than going across the goal.

Basel were undaunted by these near misses, and proceeded to create a series of wonderful chances of their own, in a spell which should certainly have brought them a goal. Streller was the first to test Neuer,  an attempted flick finish which the Germany number one was able to tip over the bar. Next came a bullet header from Dragovic, which came back off the post and rolled along the goal line before Badstuber thumped the ball it to safety, Neuer having gotten a vital touch. Minutes later, a flowing move found Park, who fed a perfect ball in between the centre backs to Alex Frei, whose first time, left footed shot, smacked against the Bayern crossbar.

The game began to settle down as the clock ticked towards half-time, but Sommer still had to be alert in goal for Basel, as Bayern threatened again. The Swiss stopper, though, equal to Ribery’s  effort.

In a much tighter second half, there were few clear cut chances. The two managers, obviously unhappy at their teams’ openness, defensively, in the first half, took the necessary steps to ensure that a repeat performance would not occur after the break.

The Germans looked to be gaining the upper hand, and certainly enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the second period, but they didn’t create the same kind of clear cut chances as they had done in the opening 45 minutes. Mario Gomez, Bayern’s record signing, looking for his 66th goal in 68 games, had the visitors’ best chance of the second half when he was put clean through on Sommer, but again the goalkeeper got his angles right and made the save.

The game was won four minutes from time.  Substitute Valentin Stocker scored the vital goal, driving the ball through Neuer’s legs from 14 yards, after fellow substitute Jacques Zoua’s run and pass found him onside and unmarked.

A fantastic win for FC Basel against one of the giants of European football, and bragging rights at least temporarily, belong to the Swiss. The tie is finely balanced however, and Bayern will fancy their chances in the second-leg, especially if Bastien Schweinsteiger can recover in time to play a part. Seven of Basel’s eleven Champions’ League goals have come away from home this season, so they’ll surely feel that they can pull off a major upset, and send the German’s spinning out of Europe.

Marseilles vs Inter Milan (in brief)

Wednesday night’s other Champions’ League encounter saw Inter Milan travel to the South of France to take on Marseilles. The Italian’s, under Claudio Ranieri, are on a terrible run of form domestically, which has seen them drop out of contention in Serie A and put pressure on the manager’s position.

A last minute goal added to Ranieri’s woes as Inter went down 1-0 at the Stade Velodrome. Both teams had had enough chances to win the match, Forlan and Zarate coming closest for Inter, Valbuena and Brandao with chances for the hosts. Ayew it was though, who carried the fight for Marseilles in the closing stages, and, after allowing Julio Cesar to save a headed chance late on, he made no mistake from Valbuena’s 93rd minute corner, nodding in to the far corner from 8 yards.

Inter are by no means out of the tie, with the return leg to be played at the San Siro in three weeks time. However the Italian’s will need to sort themselves out quickly having lost their last three home games, and, it will be interesting to see if Ranieri will still be in charge to do the sorting out. Marseilles will be happy with the win, but will know that they’ll have to play well in the second-leg if they are to secure a quarter final spot.

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