Bayern lose Atletico test again
ATLETICO MADRID 1
(Yannick Carrasco 35)
BAYERN MUNICH 0
When Bayern Munich brought in Carlo Ancelotti to replace Pep Guardiola at the start of the season, the intention was clear.
Domestic dominance was not going to be enough for the Bavarian outfit.
European conquests are also part of the tradition of the club, who have won the continent's top prize five times and reached another five finals.
And Ancelotti is a Champions League specialist.
As manager, he has won it on three occasions - twice with AC Milan and once with Real Madrid.
In the 57-year-old Italian, Bayern saw a candidate that could improve on Guardiola's three successive European seasons of close finishes - they were knocked out in the semi-finals by Spanish opposition on each occasion.
But, in his first big test, Ancelotti came up short.
Against Atletico Madrid yesterday morning (Singapore time), the same side who knocked them out in the last four on away goals last season, Bayern fell into the same trap.
Diego Simeone's side sprung a breathtaking soak-and-strike manoeuvre to inflict a 1-0 defeat on Bayern in their Group D clash, leaving Ancelotti to search for answers in his first defeat as Bayern boss.
His eight-match winning run finally came to an end.
The aura of invincibility was punctured by the superb Belgian Yannick Carrasco, whose 35th-minute strike went in off the inside of the post for the only goal of the game.
Once again, Bayern were caught out, just like they were at the Vicente Calderon five months ago.
Carlo Ancelotti (above)
Ancelotti had travelled to Spain all prepared. His two years in La Liga with Real gave him opportunities to study Atletico and Simeone up close.
The Argentinian certainly did not stray from his 4-4-2 modus operandi.
The hosts closed down their opponents from the front, with their two forwards Fernando Torres and Antoine Griezmann working their socks off to limit the space available to Xabi Alonso and Arturo Vidal.
They sat back and waited for chances to counter-attack, which they did at breakneck speed.
Ancelotti knew this would happen, but still couldn't do anything about it.
For the first time since he became Bayern boss, there was a sense of helplessness.
He was left to lament a lack of "bite and determination" from his own side.
It could have been worse for the visitors.
Before Carrasco's goal, Torres could have opened the scoring but he directed his header from in front of an open goal, onto the post.
Late in the game, Griezmann sent a penalty against the crossbar, after Vidal had clattered into Filipe Luis in the box to concede the spot-kick.
Bayern had chances, too, especially Thomas Mueller and Franck Ribery but, as goalkeeper Manuel Neuer pointed out, Atletico had the "killer instinct".
The defeat in Spain means it is the fourth straight year Bayern, currently top in the Bundesliga, have lost in Spain without scoring a goal.
But it is more than a jinx against Spanish opposition they have to overcome.
Ancelotti must also put an end to their Champions League travel woes, which have seen them win just two out of their last 11 matches on the road.
Atletico provided him with a timely reminder of why he is at Bayern in the first place. His mission is to crack the Champions League code.
Lest he forget.
BAYERN MUNICH'S RECENT RECORD AGAINST SPANISH TEAMS:
- 2013/14 semi-finals: Lost to Real Madrid 5-0 on aggregate
- 2014/15 semi-finals: Lost to Barcelona 5-3 on aggregate
- 2015/16 semi-finals: Lost to Atletico Madrid 2-2 on aggregate (on away goals)