It's all about momentum, right? "The Bundesliga is behind us," said Bayern coach Guardiola ahead of Saturday's matchup with Leverkusen. But the Champions League still lies ahead. And Bayern better shape up for Barca.
Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 Bayern Munich
(Calhanoglu 55', Brandt 82')
It's fair to say that Bayern very rarely is defeated handily, but that's exactly what happened on Saturday evening in Leverkusen. There's no other way to put it.
From the first whistle onwards, Leverkusen was in the driver's seat, applying pressure, creating chances - and capitalizing - against a team that seemed a mere shade of the phantom it has been in Germany and Europe over the past years.
Despite head coach Pep Guardiola's admission earlier in the week, Bayern's performance on Saturday was still impressively weak. For 90 minutes, they were dominated by Leverkusen, who is now unbeaten in its last 10 games. Bayern now head into Wednesday's European bout with Barcelona with even less momentum following the shocking loss to Dortmund this past Tuesday in the German Cup.
And, what's more, Barcelona showed what it's made of on Saturday: In La Liga action, they beat Cordoba by a smooth 8-0.
The players Bayern were missing on Saturday were almost enough to field an all-star Bundesliga squad: Robert Lewandowski, Arjen Robben, Frank Ribery, Jerome Boateng, Holger Badstuber, Thomas Müller.
The first goal came in the 55th minute on a free kick by Hakan Calhanoglu who sent a curve ball through the Bayern wall and easily past Manuel Neuer. It was the Turkish midfielder's seventh goal in the Bundesliga season, five of which came on free kicks. For Neuer, however, it was the first free kick the keeper has ever let in between the posts for Bayern in the Bundesliga.
In the 82nd minute, with the expression on Pep Guardiola's face morphing from glum to dismayed, 19-year-old Leverkusen winger Julian Brandt walked a ball up the right side and slid the ball right past Neuer. The ease with which Brandt - who incidentally turned 19 on Saturday - was able to beat the Bayern defence was telling for the entire evening.
The second half was marked with chances for Leverkusen who never really let up the pressure. Far fewer ensued for Bayern, and at each of those shot-stopper Bernd Leno proved solid, stoning Mario Götze on two different occasions as the winger came in untouched.
Resting on laurels? Or resting for Barca?
The first half was much the same, with Leverkusen more or less in control - despite Bayern leading in ball possession.
In the 27th minute, amidst what seemed like minutes of passes that led to nowhere, World Cup hero Götze snuck through the Leverkusen defense and took in a feed from Gianluca Gaudino for a breakaway on Leno. He took the ball past the keeper, but his weak effort was cleared by Tin Jedvaj.
The opening 20 minutes of the game - if the SKY commentators or the reception on Twitter were anything to go by - were an altogether unconvincing presentation of football, with Bayern pressed into their own half as the depleted side attempted to find its feet.
Leverkusen, meanwhile, had a number of chances and even found the net at the 10-minute mark. Alas, the would-be-goal by sniper Kiessling was taken away by the linesman who rightfully saw Kiesling inches offside.
Still, the offside call was a stroke of luck for Neuer, who was completely beaten when Calhanoglu's cross found Kiesling's foot.