Manchester United versus Bayern Munich naturally evokes memories of ‘that night’ in Barcelona 1999 – Sir Alex Ferguson’s “football, bloody hell” moment, if you will. Perhaps Bayern supporters of a nervous disposition might prefer Arjen Robben’s sumptuous strike to decide the quarter final at Old Trafford in 2010 against those ‘typical Germans’, as Sir Alex so quaintly termed them.
However, I will turn my attention to a lesser lauded affair – but important all the same – as it was the first ever competitive match between the two footballing superpowers in 1998.
The significant game was played in the historic Olympic Stadium (built for the 1972 Olympics) on September 30th in Munich. It’s no coincidence to me that Bayern’s rise to commercial and footballing prominence has coincided very much with their move to the more atmospheric Allianz Arena – purpose built for the 2006 World Cup.
Yours truly was amongst the 55,000 crowd that turned up on a balmy autumnal night in the famous stadium. Around 3,000 travelling United supporters were in fine voice after the customary pre-match lubrication with the local Munich product.
What sticks in the memory for me are four of the worst goals you can ever imagine! Giovane Elber’s opener for the Bavarians was arguably offside TWICE: firstly his cumbersome strike partner Carsten Jancker strayed a yard offside then Elber himself was clearly off – but the linesman failed to spot it and the Brazilian slotted home to put Bayern ahead on 11 minutes.
The legend Lothar Matthäus might still be having nightmares about his calamitous errors for both of United’s goals that night. Firstly ‘Loddar’s’ sloppy pass allowed David Beckham in down the right hand side. Becks did what he did best and crossed perfectly for Dwight Yorke to head in the equalizer on the half-hour mark.
More Matthäus misery followed shortly after the break as he made a botch of a clearance which fell to Paul Scholes to bundle United ahead.
Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld made a double substitution on the hour mark with Göktan Berkant making his debut as a 17 year old for Bayern, whilst Iranian international striker Ali Daei also came off the bench as the home side desperately sought an equaliser.
United, ably marshalled by ‘General’ Jaap Stam and talismanic skipper Roy Keane, were good value for a crucial away win, until the final minute that is, when United’s keeper Peter Schmeichel flew through the Munich air with the greatest of ease only to miss the ball completely. Elber needed no second invitation to tap home into an empty net to secure a precious draw.
The rematch in December at Old Trafford also ended as a draw in Group D alongside Barcelona and the might of Brøndby from Denmark, who had already beaten the German giants a fortnight earlier in Copenhagen in the opening round of fixtures. United’s current assistant coach Phil Neville started alongside brother Gary in the Bavarian capital, whilst Ryan Giggs missed the game through injury but was fit for the return in Manchester.
Ultimately, Bayern topped the group while United snuck through as one of the best two runners-up. Barcelona finished third in the group with their club captain, a certain Pep Guardiola, missing through injury. In 1998, David Moyes had just started his fledgling managerial career at 3rd division Preston North End.
Bayern : Kahn (c), Babbel, Lizarazu, Strunz, Elber, Matthäus, Effenberg, Jeremies (Fink 82), Jancker (Daei 63), Salihamidžić (Berkant 63), Linke
Man Utd : Schmeichel, G. Neville, Irwin, Stam, Beckham, Sheringham, P. Neville, Blomqvist (Cruyff 69), Keane (c)
Manchester United v Bayern Munich
Played: 10 – United wins: 2 – Bayern wins: 3 – Draws: 5
2013/2014 – Champions League quarter-final
1 April 2014: Manchester United 1-1 Bayern Munich
2009/2010 – Champions League quarter-final
7 April 2010: Manchester United 3-2 Bayern Munich
30 March 2010: Bayern Munich 2-1 Manchester United
2001/2002 – Champions League second group stage
13 March 2002: Manchester United 0-0 Bayern Munich
20 November 2001: Bayern Munich 1-1 Manchester United
2000/2001 – Champions League quarter-final
18 April 2001: Bayern Munich 2-1 Manchester United
3 April 2001: Manchester United 0-1 Bayern Munich
1998/1999 – Champions League final (Camp Nou, Barcelona)
26 May 1999: Bayern Munich 1-2 Manchester United
Champions League group stages
9 December 1998: Manchester United 1-1 Bayern Munich
30 September 1998: B Munich 2-2 Manchester United
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