Immobile Magic and Defensive Grit: How Lazio Exposed Bayern's Weaknesses

After the defeat in the Bundesliga against the direct competitor Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich suffered another defeat, this time in the Champions League against Lazio

by Sededin Dedovic
Immobile Magic and Defensive Grit: How Lazio Exposed Bayern's Weaknesses
© Paolo Bruno / Getty Images

A dramatic Champions League encounter at the Stadio Olimpico saw Lazio record an incredible 1-0 victory over 10-man Bayern Munich in their last 16 first leg. Ciro Immobile converted a penalty in the second half to secure victory for the Italian side, while Dayot Upamecan's red card proved crucial in turning the momentum in Lazio's favour.

Despite going into the game as favourites, Bayern's struggles continued after their Bundesliga defeat to Bayer Leverkusen. The wounds from the defeat in the Bundesliga have not even healed, and yet another painful defeat for the Bavarian giants means that the club has fallen into a crisis.

Early chances for Joshua Kimmich and Harry Kane gave promising signs, but Lazio gradually grew into the contest. Luis Alberto forced a precise save from Manuel Neuer, showing the hosts' attacking intent. Lazio did not just defend, but tried all the time to take the lead.

They responded to Bayern's high pressing with even greater pressing. The turning point came in the 69th minute. Gustav Isaksen drew a clumsy challenge from Upamecano in the box, earning the French defender a red card and a penalty for Lazio.

Immobile, cool as ever, he sent Neuer the wrong way to give the home side the lead. In the rest of the game, Bayern tried to do something with the player less, but in the end they did well with a defeat of only 1-0. Regardless of the fewer players in the first half, Bayern seemed to have no idea, they would attack but without a specific last pass and without scoring.

The players of SS Lazio and Bayern Munich line up during the UEFA Champions League anthem prior to kick-off ahead of the UEFA Ch© Paolo Bruno / Getty Images

Bayern, now beaten and chasing the game, were desperate in attack.

Their frustration was compounded by their inability to register a single shot on target throughout the match, which is truly incredible for a team as renowned as Bayern. Despite desperate late pressure, they could not break through a resolute Lazio defence, led by the impressive Francesco Acerbi.

Tuchel under pressure after Bayern's second consecutive defeat

The defeat adds further pressure to Bayern manager Thomas Tuchel, who is already facing criticism after a recent slump in form. Their failure to score in two consecutive games raises concerns about their attacking prowess.

"We started well and had chances," Tuchel admitted. "But our performance dropped inexplicably. We made individual mistakes, lost our concentration and lost our rhythm. That is entirely our responsibility. We will have to analyze this performance and come back stronger in the second leg."

Kane is looking to turn things around

Harry Kane, who had a relatively quiet game himself, acknowledged the gravity of the situation but urged his team to remain positive.

"It's been a tough week," he said. "We created chances in the first half but the red card changed things. We have to fight back; we are still in the Bundesliga race and we can turn this game around."

Harry Kane during warm up against Lazio© Paolo Bruno / Getty Images

Lazio big dream after historic victory

For Lazio, this victory represents a historic moment.

They haven't reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League since 2000, and defeating a powerhouse like Bayern, even with the advantage of a red card, is a significant achievement. However, everything is not over, they will have to travel to Germany to visit Bayern Munich, and at the Allianz Arena they will have to play twice as well if they want to make that historic step forward.

An early goal could secure them the quarterfinals, considering that Bayern will start furiously from the very beginning in order to make up for the one-goal deficit. Lazio's defense will surely face a trench battle, but if they are up to the task as they were in Rome last night, then they have a huge chance.

"We knew we had a chance and we prepared well," said goalscorer Immobile. "We took our chances and now we have the advantage in Munich. We will have to be at our best again, but we believe we can achieve something special."

Racism casts a shadow on the night

However, the night was marred by reports of racist abuse directed at Upamecan on social media.

Bayern immediately condemned the incident, citing its strong stance against discrimination of any kind. This serves as an unfortunate reminder of the ongoing battle against bigotry in soccer and beyond. Italy is facing a major migrant crisis, and these and similar incidents are well known to true Serie A fans, where a few years ago we could witness such scenes every day until anti-discrimination laws were strengthened in Italy.

With the score advantage and the home match secured, Lazio will travel to Munich with a spring in their step. However, Bayern, wounded but with wounded pride, will be desperate to overturn the deficit in front of their home crowd.

The second leg promises to be another tense encounter, as both teams aim to reach the quarter-finals. While for Bayern only winning the title means success, in the case of passing, Lazio will play in the quarter-finals of the Uefa Champions League for the first time in almost 30 years.

Bayern Munich Champions League