Salzburg Made Things Easy For Bayern Munich
5:44 PM EST on March 8, 2022
To beat Bayern Munich in a Champions League knockout tie, a team has to be two things above all: It has to be talented, and it has to be disciplined. RB Salzburg was neither of those things on Tuesday, and Bayern punished the myriad mistakes by the Austrian side en route to a 7-1 victory—8-2 on aggregate—that sees the Germans move comfortably into the quarterfinals of the tournament.
There's always at least one pairing in the round of 16 that's completely one-sided. Manchester City's 5-0 demolition of Sporting in the first leg appeared to fulfill the theory, and Bayern-Salzburg did not seem to be one of those type of matchups. Salzburg played Bayern extremely tough in the first leg at home, and probably should have won; it took a 90th minute equalizer from Kingsley Coman to bring the aggregate score to Germany at 1-1. You wouldn't have known it watching Tuesday's second leg, though.
A team should work exceedingly hard not to gift Bayern goals, and especially in Munich, but Salzburg did just that, conceding two penalties in the first 21 minutes of the match. Robert Lewandowski is a prolific penalty scorer, so it's not particularly surprising that he buried both, sending Salzburg goalkeeper Philipp Köhn the wrong way each time:
What's more surprising is that those penalty fouls didn't remain the biggest brain farts by Salzburg. Just two minutes after Lewandowski's second penalty, the Polish striker scored once again. I have a hard time giving him too much credit for this one, though; a failed header clearance from Salzburg led to a beautiful, line-breaking pass from Thomas Müller that found Lewandowski behind the defense's foolishly high line, and a charging Köhn could not beat the Bayern man to the ball in time. One deflection off the post later, and Lewandowski had his fifth Champions League hat trick, just nine minutes after his first goal on the night:
If the tie wasn't over at 2-0, it definitely was at 3-0, and Salzburg just sort of broke down from there. Eight minutes after that mess of a Lewandowski goal, Serge Gnabry found room in the Austrian box to slot a ball past left back Andreas Ulmer and through the hands of Köhn, who had a first half he won't want to think about ever again.
One would think that a four-goal lead would lead to a calmer second half for Bayern, but that's not really who this team is. Instead, Bayern scored three more in the second 45 minutes, two from Müller and one from Leroy Sané. The best of the bunch was probably this one from Müller in the 54th minute:
Salzburg gave hope to soccer fans who crave, nay, demand chaos with a stellar opening leg at home, but any reasonable follower of the sport could have and maybe should have expected something like what happened on Tuesday. Bayern is too good, too smart, and too deadly when given free rein to score, and Salzburg making three crucial mistakes in the span of nine minutes killed off any of that hope. There's no shame in losing to Bayern, even badly, but it should never be quite this easy.