Basle faulty for Bayern

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Fri 25th Jan, 2013

In a clash of the FCBs, Valentin Stocker scored four minutes from time to give Basle an unexpected victory over Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League clash at St. Jakob-Park.

Substitute Stocker was left unmarked in the corner of the area (Rafinha the guilty Bayern defender) and slotted home between goalkeeper Manuel Neuer's legs after excellent approach play by fellow substitute Jacques Zoua.

The late Basle blow gives the Swiss giant killers a precious advantage to take into the return leg on March 13th in Munich - adding Bayern's scalp to that of English Premier League champions Manchester United who they surprised 2-1 in the group stages last December.

It was somewhat of a mystery how the first half remained goalless, with both goalkeepers on top of their games. The home side twice hit the woodwork, whilst French diva Franck Ribery missed two golden chances for the visitors. Bayern started with purpose with Ribery a constant threat in the opening exchanges. Basle's brilliant goalkeeper Yann Sommer twice kept the diminutive Frenchman at bay in the 3rd and 12th minutes.

Neuer also made a tremendous reflex save on 16 minutes, diverting an Alexsander Dragovic header onto the post, and just three minutes later ex-Borussia Dortmund striker Alexander Frei was unluckily denied by the crossbar. Talented Swiss midfielder Xherdan Shakiri impressed for the home side ahead of his big money move to the Bavarian capital this summer.

The second half was a much more circumspect affair, with both teams reluctant to get caught on the break. As coach Jupp Heynckes later remarked, ''it felt like a typical 0-0 game.'' Captain Philipp Lahm did manage to test man-of-the-match Sommer with a snap shot from the edge of the box on 68 minutes, whilst top scorer Mario Gomez was also thwarted by the keeper, who spread himself well to snuff out the danger.

A shadow of his former self, Dutch winger Arjen Robben was strangely subdued throughout. It was a surprise that it was Ribery who was sacrificed for Thomas Mueller after 71 minutes. Ribery then appeared to snub Heynckes after being hooked off, refusing the customary handshake. Chairman Uli Hoeness lost the plot when pressed about the Frenchman's apparent lack of respect for the trainer after the substitution. ''You're all obsessed with this handshake nonsense. This isn't a girl's finishing school. Players sometimes get angry with themselves when they're brought off!''

This outburst by the Chairman signifies how seriously Bayern's season is in danger of de-railing. After slipping to 3rd place in the Bundesliga, this meek defeat also leaves the very real threat of missing out on its own party - the Champions League final is to be staged at the Allianz Arena in May.

CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge also set the alarm bells ringing at the obligatory after game banquet with a stinging warning to the team: ''We need to wake up - work hard and stick together if we are to get out of this mess!''

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