A.hen Jérôme Boateng and Joaquin Correa ran after the ball, Alexander Nübel had to be Manuel Neuer for the first time. The game between FC Bayern and Lazio Rome was 13 minutes over when Luis Alberto, the Italian playmaker, passed the ball flat and quickly forward. Defender Boateng and striker Correa dashed off, but Nübel, the goalkeeper, was faster. He caught the ball twenty yards from his goal. Wherever there has to be a goalkeeper to represent Manuel Neuer.
On Wednesday evening, Nübel, 24 years old, did almost everything right in his third game for FC Bayern, but honestly there wasn’t much to be done wrong. His Bayern controlled the second leg of the second leg in the Champions League. In the end they won 2-1 in their own stadium. That was easily enough to qualify for the quarter-finals. They even won the first leg in Rome 4-1. The pairings for the quarter-finals will be drawn on Friday.
Because the game lacked tension on Wednesday, you could concentrate on the side stories early on. One of them: Nübel and his third assignment. If the newcomer was allowed to keep the goal for once in his first eight months in Munich, there were games in which nothing could go wrong. In the first round of the DFB Cup against the fifth division team from Düren (final score: 3: 0). In the preliminary round of the Champions League against Atlético Madrid, when the group victory was already certain (final score: 1: 1). And even if there was a lot at stake in the knockout duel against Rome, one could assume with a clear conscience that nothing would go wrong. The lead from the first leg was big, the risk in the second leg was small. So it should have been easy for Bayern coach Hansi Flick to spare his cold number one, Manuel Neuer – and to set up his number two, Alexander Nübel.
In the end, Nübel only had to hold the ball twice in 90 minutes: a harmless headbutt from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (16th) and a shot by Joaquin Correa in a one-on-one (70th), who was offside before that. When Marco Parolo was able to head freely on goal from five meters in the 82nd minute, Nübel was powerless. A goal that should annoy him, but that he doesn’t have to blame.
The conceded goal didn’t change anything in Bayern’s victory, because they were already 2-0 up at the time. In the 31st minute, Leon Goretzka was fouled in the penalty area by Francesco Acerbi. The referee whistled, the Italians complained, but that didn’t change anything: penalty. Robert Lewandowski sank safely (33rd). In the 72nd minute, Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting, who Flick had come on for Lewandowski two minutes earlier, completed a counterattack with a clever low shot.
That was enough for Lazio. Bayern didn’t play their best game, but they didn’t have to – and the Romans couldn’t. They started without their best striker Ciro Immobile, who only sat on the bench and was not substituted on. Flick was able to replace some of his regular players early on: Boateng, Goretzka, Müller, Lewandowski, Kimmich. A break that you can certainly use. VfB Stuttgart is coming on Saturday.
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