Bayern Munich stuttered to a 1-0 win over Mexican side Tigres in Qatar to claim their second FIFA Club World Cup title and earn their sixth trophy in less than nine months despite plenty of VAR controversy.
In doing so they become only the second team in history to hold six major trophies at the same time - following in the footsteps of Pep Guardiola's Barcelona side in 2009 - thanks to winning the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Bundesliga, DFB Pokal, German Super Cup and now the FIFA Club World Cup.
Joshua Kimmich thought he had opened the scoring in the 18th minute when Javier Aquino’s attempted clearance fell to him and he struck the ball into the bottom-left corner, but a long VAR check ensued that resulted in the goal being ruled out for offside.
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The only possible reason for doing so was surely Robert Lewandowski obscuring the goalkeeper’s vision or making the faintest of touches on the ball while trying to dodge it, but even then it was dubious.
Despite Tigres’ relentless pressing and Bayern’s lack of cutting edge in the absence of Thomas Muller, who missed out due to a positive Covid-19 test, the German side finally found a way through when Benjamin Pavard scored into an empty net in the second half.
That was nearly ruled out too, as Lewandowski was adjudged to have been offside in the build-up to the goal, but fortunately for them that decision was shortly overturned and the goal stood.
It was another dominant but underwhelming performance from Bayern, who created lots of chances while barely allowing Tigres a sight on goal, but given the dry, bobbly pitch and their upcoming Bundesliga match versus Arminia Bielefeld on Monday evening, it is fairly understandable.
Tigres can take some pleasure in being the first CONCACAF team to reach the Club World Cup final and now have a week of rest before their Liga MX Clausura game against Cruz Azul.
TALKING POINT - PITCH ADDS TO QATAR WORLD CUP CONCERNS
It is crazy to think that it was over ten years ago now - in 2010 - when FIFA controversially appointed Qatar as the 2022 World Cup hosts.
Allegations of bribery and corruption plagued their winning bid, while other issues such as homosexuality being illegal in Qatar, allegations of slave migrant workers being used to build stadiums, the extreme climate, alcohol laws and more have further added to the controversy.
While it is obviously a small issue compared to the alleged human rights abuses, if the poor standard of pitches for this Club World Cup is anything to go by then that could also come under fire at the 2022 World Cup. The dry, bobbly and supposedly sandy pitches teams have had to play on have surely contributed to the lack of goals and weakened the standard of football on show.
For example, across the semi-finals, final and third-place playoff only four goals were scored, which is a damning indictment of the pitches and something that urgently needs to be sorted ahead of the World Cup next year.
MAN OF THE MATCH - BENJAMIN PAVARD
Pavard and Alphonso Davies were constant nuisances for the Tigres wide men and full-backs - something evidenced by both Tigres full-backs picking up yellow cards. Pavard was strong defensively, passed the ball well and although his winning goal was not quite as good as his effort for France at the 2018 World Cup, it was still a vital one that has made the trip to Qatar worthwhile despite the strains on his and Bayern's schedule. After mainly being used as a centre-back at Stuttgart, he has cemented himself as one of the best right-backs in the world over the past few years at Bayern.
Bayern Munich: Neuer 7, Pavard 8, Sule 7, Hernandez 7, Davies 8, Kimmich 8, Alaba 7, Sane 6, Coman 7, Gnabry 6, Lewandowski 5...Subs: Tolisso 6, Choupo-Moting 6, Costa 6, Musiala 6
Tigres: Guzman 7, Duenas 5, Rodriguez 5, Salcedo 6, Reyes 6, Pizarro 6, Carioca 6, L. Quinones 5, Aquino 6, Gonzalez 5, Gignac 6...Subs: J. Quinones 5
18' - GOAL!!! What a strike by Kimmich! Aquino's clearance was poor and went straight to him. He had plenty of time and spice to size up a shot and found the bottom left corner perfectly.
20' - IT'S BEEN RULED OUT! Very surprised by that decision, as it appeared to be Salcedo obscuring his own keeper's vision rather than Lewandowski's doing. Maybe there was a slight touch the referee saw on his touchside monitor, but either way that's incredibly harsh and Bayern will have to pick themselves up from that and go again.
24' - SAVED!! Coman has a thunderous strike kept out by Guzman! Bayern are really starting to impose themselves on this game with fluid, attacking football.
58' - ANOTHER GOAL DISALLOWED!!! Lewandowski rises to head Kimmich's pass, but collides slightly with Guzman. The ball falls to Pavard, who scores into an open net, but it's been ruled out for offside! Lightning has struck twice.
61' - GOAL!!! After a long VAR check, the referee adjudges that Lewandowski was in fact onside during the build-up to Pavard's strike and Bayern are finally 1-0 ahead!
83' - CLOSE!! Lovely flick on from Gonzales and Gignac attempts an acrobatic bicycle quick, but he seems to have misjudged the flight of the ball. Maybe a simple tap-in could have done...but another Puskas award nomination could have been tempting.
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