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Bayern Halted to Scoreless Draw With Shakhtar

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Image: Guardian Sport
Shakhtar Donetsk 0 - 0 Bayern Munich
Xabi Alonso red card (65')
UEFA Champions League
Arena Lviv, Lviv, Ukraine.
7:45pm GMT Kick-off
Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco
Round of 16

Bayern Munich were left out in the bitter Ukranian cold as Shakhtar Donetsk toughly halted the German juggernauts to a draw in the first leg of their Round of 16 tie.

Hot favourites Bayern couldn't reach the heights of their quality in front of 34,187 spectators at the Arena Lviv, in a game overshadowed by player altercations along with a red card to Xabi Alonso in his 100th Champions League appearance.

Despite being 1,200 kilometres dislocated from their original home—due to conflict near the same regions as the Donbass Arena, the Ukranians were making themselves heard as Teixeira and Adriano got the ball rolling for the hosts.

But, on the pitch, it was Arjen Robben making the noise as he set up Schweinsteiger for a failed attempt at goal. The Dutchman was too hot to handle for Shakhtar, as he danced his way to the final third, before chipping the ball into his relatively unmarked German teammate who slashed wide with a first-time volley. Robben—who was selected in the FIFPro team of the year last month—continued to look like the most deadly force, running to meet a low delivery from the left but trapped within the pile of bodies.

With the bitter cold of a sub-zero Donetsk taking it's toll, the opening minutes of the game were timidly contested. Even though they had little to base it on, the German Champions made their mark on the game, simply by their presence. Any time where one of Pep Guardiola's men took a touch in the attacking half, the orange-and-black-clad players would scurry to defuse the danger.

After ten minutes of football, Arjen Robben made another attempt to put a dent in the contest, ghosting—once again—through the Shakhtar defenders, including a dart past Shevchuk. Most spectators, and in fact Thomas Muller himself, expected the winger to finish his run, but instead he found Bayern's false 9 who scooped it back across goal only finding the hesitated defenders.

As the contest ensued, the frequency of white Bayern shirts bombarding into the box increased. Götze was next to see his shot frantically dismissed from the box, but it was all playing into the visitors' favour, who were comfortable in possession and just awaiting an opening to take their opportunity.

Match official Alberto Undiano Mallenco would bring in some diplomatic skills to settle down the players after events transcended into some fierce arguing over a foul on Ribery. After things had calmed down, the free-kick fell safely into the hands of an alert Shakhtar keeper, Andriy Pyatov.
Franck Ribery was quietened in the first half. Image: UEFA.com
In the subsequent play, Shakhtar—in their first competitive game for 69 days—hurried themselves to the box on the counter through Taison's surge. Bayern players held strongly to bombard Donetsk's entrance, but it was a sign that the game was getting tighter and needed more quality, of which was evidently on the pitch, to spring it into life.

Rafinha was stupidly booked for unnecessarily pestering Luiz Adriano after the Brazilian forward picked up the ball from a challenge. It seemed that, so far, the majority of action was taking place in front of the referee's eyes, rather than the goal. Xabi Alonso was booked soon after taking one for the team with a challenge as Shakhtar strode forward. Dante and Srna got heated with a clash of heads, before the designated free-kick was just about hung on to by Manuel Neuer.

Bayern Munich had the numbers and ability to get into the box, they were just failing to find the incisive pass to open it all up. Alonso's corner was claimed by Pyatov, a long-ball couldn't reach Muller, but with less than half-an-hour played, it was already proving a demanding task for the defenders.

High-pressing almost reaped the rewards as a tackle unlocked Bayern's lethal front-trio. Ribery was through but his pass to Muller was heavy, and the German skied it over the crossbar. Muller would also be the reason why Shevchuck was getting bandages wrapped over his head for a nasty cut sustained from the boot of the German. Soon after a heavy touch from him let the team down as they made moves forward.

While their moves forward were a rarity, when they did, Shakhtar were not too far off the mark with their players. Luiz Adriano unlocked Taison, who bolted down the left, only to be stopped by Alaba. That would lead to another turn for Bayern in attack, where they would finally find some incisive passing.

It fell well to Franck Ribery, but he couldn't keep his shot down and it soared off-target. Robben delivered the ball to Muller who gave a first-time knock-on onto the Frenchman's path, but keeper Pyatov was unfazed by the ambitious attempt.

The half-time whistle marked quite the achievement for Shakhtar, as they stayed tough and gave their counter-parts little breathing room as the game progressed. As for Guardiola's side, they needed the spark that just didn't turn up in the first 45 minutes.
Arjen Robben had the foundations to kick on, but just couldn't in the first half. Image: UEFA.com
Bayern came out showing plenty more positivity in the second half, and there was a penalty appeal waved off as Xabi Alonso believed he was impeded in the motion of taking a shot. They were looking patient but creative, and forced a corner in which a foul was ruled against the Germans.

The problem for them was the insufficient volume of similar play produced. Five minutes from the hour-mark, Luiz Adriano was dispossessed on the turn, after Srna fed Costa for the ball in. It was a slow-burner, like Shakhar's rise to prominence in context of the game.

Xabi Alonso delivered a quality ball into the box through a long-range free-kick, but it swerved astray of goal to summarise the night so far for his side: potential to make it, but not even close to getting there.

Douglas Costa easily could've received his marching orders after elbowing Franck Ribery in a challenge. He got away with a yellow card and once more, some further bad blood was injected into the tie. Luiz Adriano's foul on Xabi Alonso moments later would result in both players down in a heap on the pitch, but eventually they could carry on. 

But the Spaniard wouldn't carry on for long. To add to his yellow retrieved from the first half, a foul from behind on Taison and a second yellow would lead to his dismissal from the pitch, on his 100th Champions League appearance.

Shakhtar, having progressively grown into a game against a lacklustre opponent, now had the advantage of a man to go with it. Still well in the contest, belief began to make the rounds of the passionate Ukranian supporters.

While the game was looking more and more on course for a goal-less draw, a few split seconds of thought otherwise but Arjen Robben scuffed his chance as he broke into the box. Still, the work-load of the hosts was not fully completed, until the final-whistle blew. All to play for in the second leg in Munich.
Media preview
Image: FIFA.com
Reaction, analysis

Things just didn't click for Bayern in the game. Despite being heavy favourites in the run-up to the knockout-stage meeting, they just didn't have the quality to break the walls of their Ukranian counter-parts who, resiliently, fought their way through the first half. 

You could make a case that there was more action in terms of conflict between players than at the goal-mouth, it was bad-blooded and that was typified by Xabi Alonso's red-card, a reckless rush of judgement to go in and receive the second booking.

In the rare times which they broke forward, Shakhtar did well but the gulf in resources surely played their pat. Speaking of resources, the stars of Bayern were extremely below-par, nothing clicked, nothing worked and with all that potential, no results were achieved.

Maybe it was the bitter cold of Lviv. If anyone managed to warm up though it was the hosts who fought hard to really keep in the game even after a 69-day break from competitive football.

In the end, a draw is a fair result for Shakhtar's effort and Bayern's lack of quality on the night.

Player Ratings

Team 
Rating (/10)
Team
Rating (/10)
Pyatov
8.5
Neuer
8.5
Srna
8.4
Alaba
8.5
Kucher
8.3
Boateng
8.4
Rakitskiy
8.4
Rafinha
8.3
Shevchuk
8.5
Schweinsteiger
8.4
Fred
8.2
Bernat
8.2
Fernando
8.2
Alonso
8.2
Costa
8.4
Götze
8.1
Teixeira
8.3
Ribéry
8.0
Taison
8.7
Muller
8.1
Adriano
8.3
Robben
8.1




What does the tie hold when these two teams meet again in Munich in a few weeks? You can certainly expect Bayern to be better.
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Image: FIFA.com
More: Cavani salvages draw for PSG
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TheSportMatrix • We Live For Sport: Bayern Halted to Scoreless Draw With Shakhtar
Bayern Halted to Scoreless Draw With Shakhtar
Shakhtar Donetsk hold out in the cold of Lviv against a 10-man Bayern Munich.
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TheSportMatrix • We Live For Sport
https://www.thesportmatrix.com/2015/02/Champions-League-Shakhtar-vs-Bayern.html
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https://www.thesportmatrix.com/2015/02/Champions-League-Shakhtar-vs-Bayern.html
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