Bayern Munich is into the Champions League semifinals after drawing 0-0 with Sevilla in the second leg of their quarterfinal on Wednesday, advancing 2-1 on aggregate.
The second leg was there for the taking for either side, although Sevilla will leave the Allianz Arena wondering if it could’ve done more to claim a positive result.
Here are three thoughts from the game.
Defences cancel out attacks
In a scoreless draw, the defence tends to nullify the attack, so that is not a surprise. However, considering Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes started James Rodriguez, Thomas Muller, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Robert Lewandowski, it’s impressive that Sevilla’s back line stood firm.
The performance of Sevilla goalkeeper David Soria was vital. Bayern mustered 17 shots, forcing Soria to make six saves. But Clement Lenglet and Gabriel Mercado shut down Lewandowski, who took a number of hard challenges throughout the game. Mercado and Lenglet lack pace, so credit to them for keeping this free-flowing Bayern attack off the scoresheet.
Bayern’s defenders, on the other hand, were tasked with containing Sevilla’s rapid counter-attacks. They were successful in doing so, which is why the match finished in a stalemate.
Sevilla playmakers too crowded
Another major factor in the scoreless draw was Ever Banega, Steven N’Zonzi and Franco Vazquez playing too close together.
Those midfielders are the three distributors in the side. N’Zonzi and Banega completed more passes than any other Sevilla players, per WhoScored.com, while Vazquez is the team’s creative No. 10. Yet all three of them were occupying the same spaces.
Bayern was clearly fine with this approach because with all three of them crowding each other, it was easier to defend. Additionally, Wissam Ben Yedder barely had any touches in the box.
Sevilla coach Vincenzo Montella threw on Luis Muriel and Sandro Ramirez to add more of an attacking presence up front, but neither fared any better than Ben Yedder.
Few European-based players have enjoyed as dramatic of a resurgence as James Rodriguez this season. He arrived to Bayern Munich on loan from Real Madrid in search of more minutes. There were also questions asked about his commitment to Madrid and to soccer in general after he was constantly seen partying on the town.
Since arriving in Germany, Rodriguez has been focused and proven a vital addition for Bayern. So much so that the club is considering signing him on a permanent basis.
Rodriguez was excellent again for Bayern in a deeper role in midfield. His composure on the ball is a key quality for the side. The Bavarians can keep possession, slow down the tempo, or play with more speed and utilize James’s playmaking abilities in the final third.
🇨🇴 James Rodriguez = Bayern's assist king 👌
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 9, 2018
At this stage, Rodriguez should be a regular starter. He’s been in Heynckes’s XI in four of the past five games in all competitions, plus he came on for the injured Arturo Vidal in the first leg in Seville.
The Colombian has become a key player again, which bodes well for Bayern’s chances of lifting the Champions League, not to mention Rodriguez’s country ahead of the World Cup this summer.