Historic Matches - Bayern Munich 2002

DATE: Wednesday 18 September, 2002 & Tuesday 29 October, 2002
EVENT: Deportivo become the first Spanish team to win at Bayern Munich and make it a historic double win at Riazor.

The first two participations of Deportivo in the Champions League, during the seasons 2001/2002 and 2002/2003, impressed Europe. There were double wins against Paris-Saint Germain, Manchester United, Arsenal and an impressing home victory against Juventus. But German teams always were a frustration to the Galicians. In the early nineties both Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Dortmund eliminated Arsenio's men from the UEFA Cup. And Bayer Leverkusen hit six against Deportivo on their way to the 2002 Champions League final. All that changed when the Galicians met the best German club of all times: Bayern Munich.

In the first two editions of Depor's Champions League participation the team reached the Quarter Finals on both occasions. During the season 2000/2001, Deportivo finished first in Group E (first phase) and Group B (second phase) before coming one goal short against Leeds United in the Quarter Finals. During the season 2001/2002, Deportivo finished first in Group G (first phase) and finished second in Group D (second phase) after throwing away the final match of this group against Leverkusen. Manchester United proved to be too strong in the Quarter Finals.

But the name of Deportivo had been written in the European books. In Spain, the Liga and Supercopa were won in 2000 and the team finished second in both 2001 and 2002. In March, 2002 a second Copa del Rey was added to the trophy room after a historic 1-2 win at Real Madrid celebrating their 100th birthday. It were the glory years of Deportivo and the team could afford to spend something during the summer of 2002. Portuguese defender Jorge Andrade (24) joined the squad and Spanish World Cup participant Albert Luque (24) was transferred to Deportivo just before the transfer deadline. Another expensive addition was 'Toro' Acuña, who was signed from Real Zaragoza. Goalkeeper Juanmi and late signing Pablo Amo completed the summer deals. The quality available even permitted Deportivo to give loan deals to Walter Pandiani and Djalminha.

By then a third Supercopa trophy had already been won by a magnificent 4-0 on-aggregate victory against strong 2002 Liga champions Valencia. So, confidence was high when the Liga kicked of on Saturday 1 September, 2002 at home against Betis Sevilla. Deportivo quickly came back to earth. After fifty-three minutes Joaquí­n scored Betis' fourth goal and only the woodwork prevented Deportivo from losing more heavily than 2-4. More bad news came from new signing Jorge Andrade who suffered a serious injury and would be out for several months. Doubts started to surround the team. Little Correalejo were eliminated from the Copa del Rey with a narrow victory (1-2), but some confidence was restored when two goals of Roy Makaay earned Deportivo a victory at Osasuna (1-2). Now Deportivo faced their first match in their so-called Champions League 'Group of Death' containing AC Milan, Bayern Munich and Lens.

Depor's record against German teams was well known back then. During the UEFA Cup campaign of 1993/1994 the Galicians thought they could fix an injury-time loss at Eintracht Frankfurt (1-0) but in Riazor broke themselves against the German wall (0-1). One year later the 1-0 home victory against Borussia Dortmund seemed to be enough when Alfredo scored the 1-1 equalizer in Germany in extra-time. Still Dortmund managed to add two more goals and left Deportivo frustrated. The 3-0 away defeat at Bayer Leverkusen of 2001 didn't exactly take away this feeling. Neither did the 1-3 home defeat some months later which made Deportivo not win a group phase for the first time in their short Champions League history.

And now German Rekordmeister Bayern Munich were awaiting in their Olympic Stadium. European Cup winners of 1974, 1975 and 1976 and winner of the 2001 edition. That same year they added the Intercontinental Cup to their cabinet and had won the German double (league and cup) in 2000. They also had won the German Bundesliga in 1999 and 2001 making it three in a row. And their Champions League record was impressive. In 1997/1998 they reached the Quarter Finals and in 1998/1999 lost a dramatic final against Manchester United (1-2 after they led 1-0 near the end). Only Real Madrid prevented them from playing another final in the season 1999/2000. But they reached the final again, and won at this time, in 2000/2001 against Valencia after penalty kicks. In the season 2001/2002 it were Real Madrid again who blocked their way in Europe in the Quarter Finals.

But Real Madrid never have won a match at Bayern Munich. In fact, no Spanish team had ever achieved this when Deportivo travelled to Munich. And one had to go back to the season 1997/1998 to notice the last European home defeat of Bayern Munich. Back then IFK Goteborg achieved a 0-1 group phase win in Munich, but that didn't hamper Bayer from progressing to the next round. During the past five seasons Bayern played 32 European home matches and betting on the home side was a safe one. They won none less than 25 of them and drew 6. Bayern seemed to have a subscription to beating Real Madrid those years because they did so four times in four matches during the period 1999-2002. Other victims with big names were Arsenal, Manchester United and Barcelona.

This was the situation when both teams met on 18 September, 2002. 'Respect' was what the Deportivo players had when they previewed the match. "But we have nothing to lose", Makaay said. "Bayern are one of the best teams in Europe and they are favourites playing in their own stadium. Again they have build a strong squad and without a doubt they have a big chance of finishing first in this group. Weâ'll give it a shot although it will be very complicated. But we want to start this season well". Defender Donato added that he trusted Deportivo of progressing from this group "despite it's one of the most difficult ones of this year. But we're writing history in Europe and therefore qualification wouldn't be a surprise. We respect Bayern Munich and they know we will try to break their offensive game. It's our plan not to concede any goals and to hit them with counter-attacks."

After twelve minutes into the game the plan already had become a success. Valerón reached Roy Makaay, the Dutch striker brushed off Thomas Linke and left goalkeeper Olivier Kahn chanceless with a low shot to the keeper's left: 0-1. The German goalie had been so impressive during the World Cup 2002 of some months earlier when he and Ballack almost on their own brought Germany into the final. But this time he had to surrender, although Bayern Munich didn't seem impressed. The compact and disciplined Galician team didn't gave them much space, but the Germans seemed in no hurry. Bayern had possession. But Ballack and Hermies struggled to exert their usual influence in midfield as Bayern failed to convert possession into chances. The passing and probing of Valerón, Fran and Sergio provided a constant threat to the Bayern defence while the home side were rarely able to threaten the Deportivo goal. Only after forty minutes did Bayern create their first opportunity to score.

Just before the break it was defender Héctor who ran away from Zé Roberto down the right and crossed low for Makaay to smash the ball past Kahn from close range: 0-2. This did hurt Munich. Especially because they were playing with their best team, including new signing Michael Ballack and top strikers Pizarro and Elbert. Former Germany and Bayern coach Franz Beckenbauer, now Bayern president, was livid and told German television at half-time: "We started as if we were in a training session - we're standing too far off our opponents."

Coach Ottmar Hitzelf reacted during the break. He replaced French defender Sagnol by midfielder Hargreaves and this paid off. Bayern started to put pressure upon Deportivo and the Galicians were with their backs against the wall. Midfielder Salihamidzic was the first to score. Thomas Linke picked out Claudio Pizarro in the box before the ball broke to the unmarked Bosnia-Herzegovnian who made no mistake with a fierce drive from three metres. And seven minutes later the match was equal again when Elber headed a corner from substitute Owen Hargreaves into the net to leave Juanmi (who replaced the injured Molina) helpless. The question now was: who will score their third?

With the momentum now in their favour, Bayern suddenly seemed to be heading for victory, but Valerón and Makaay had other ideas. Makaay scored that third goal, but he only would wear the Bayern start after this season. Bayern Munich made the same mistake of assuming all would be all right. But they had forgotten about Juan Carlos Valerón. The Canarian-born midfielder was in the best form of his life and one week earlier had set up a goal, and scored another, in Spain's important 0-2 victory in Greece towards the Euro 2004 tournament. After seventy-four minutes, the Spanish international's delightful chip found Makaay in space only for the Dutchman to head tamely at Kahn. After seventy-seven minutes, that night in Munich, Valerón collected a clearance of Oliver Kahn and threaded another pass from the centre circle through the Bayern defence to Makaay. The Dutch striker beat the offside trap then the Bayern keeper to fire his third of the game.

Bayern Munich were stunned. No-one could remember a team having scored three goals in their stadium. But the scoreboard reflected what happened that night. Hitzfeld reacted by bringing Kovac and Zickler and Bayern pushed forward. As the clock wound down, Ballack struck the bar with a firm header. But the night belonged to Deportivo, and in particular to Valerón and Makaay.

Still Bayern Munich were not impressed. "A shock?", Jeremies replied to a German reporter. "We only have lost a match." Michael Tarnat claimed Depor's goals had been "somewhat lucky" and Valerón had been given "a little bit too much space. " A German newspaper summarized their statements as "Schlimm, aber kein Drama" (tough, but no drama). Bayern coach Hitzfeld was more furious though. "Some of us will have assumed all would become all right. But after scoring 2-2 and with twenty minutes remaining we just cannot give away another goal. Not one of the Bayern players has shown sufficient form to win a Champions League match. "I'm very disappointed." Midfielder Ballack's comment was simply: "Well, at least we know now that we must win one of our away matches."

Of course, the Deportivo camp was delighted. "This is a deserved victory against one of the best teams in the game and we can be very proud of this. Even tough we had nine injured players, we were able to overcome Bayern." coach Irureta claimed. "This victory will reinforce our self-confidence. But the Champions League has only just started," he warned against too much optimism. Makaay remained the man of few words. "It's nice to have scored three goals here, but I don't care as long as we win matches. The most important thing now is that in Europe they know who Depor are. We already have achieved some big victories, but they'll know us even better now."

When the Ibera flight home landed at the La Coruña airport at four o’clock in the morning, about one hundred delighted Deportivo supporters awaited their heroes. Spanish sportspaper Marca claimed the victory to be "bestial!" while German magazine Bild wrote that "Deportivo danced the flamengo with Bayern. But the victory was a deserved one. Bayern did not even deserved one point from this match." German sports magazine Der Kicker claimed that "the best team won. And the good 25 minutes of Bayern after the break were not enough. Not at all."

Bayern Munich: Kahn - Sagnol (46' Hargreaves), Kuffour, Linke, Tarnat - Salihamidzic, Jeremies (78' Niko Kovac), Ballack, Ze Roberto (81' Zickler) - Pizarro, Elber
Deportivo: Juanmi - Héctor, Donato, Naybet, Romero - Ví­ctor Sánchez (71' 'Toro' Acuña), Mauro Silva, Sergio, Fran (67' Capdevila), Valerón - Makaay (86' Luque)
Attendance: 35.000
Goals: 0-1: (12') Makaay, 0-2: (45') Makaay, 1-2: (57') Salihamidzic, 2-2: (64') Elber, 2-3: (77') Makaay.

Six weeks later Bayern Munich had their chance of revenge. And much had changed at Deportivo since that heroic victory in Munich. Only six days after the legendary Munich win, Italian giants AC Milan silenced Riazor: 0-4. Three days earlier Makaay had scored two more goals to give his side a 2-0 Liga victory against Valladolid. But midfielder Valerón didn't finish that game thanks to a harsh tackle of Valladolid defender Pe?±a. Deportivo are shocked and outraged because of his broken ankle, but had to do without their in-form playmakers during the months after it.

Depor bounced back from the Milan defeat and secured an away win at Alavés (1-2, after a 1-0 score) and at home against Lens (3-1), despite having been 0-1 down. But their fighting spirit cannot conceal their lack of midfield inspiration. Racing de Santander add salt to Depor's wounds by winning 0-2 at Riazor, and worse is still to come. For the first time in many years Deportivo lose three matches in a row: 3-1 at both Villarreal and Lens. In France, Makaay's early goal is cancelled out by the French side with thirty minutes remaining and the match is lost.

This defeat completely changes Depor's chances in Europe. The situation in Group G now is critical with two match rounds remaining. Milan are already qualified with four victories and no loss of points. Lens are now back in the tournament with four points after saving their lifeline against Deportivo, with a home match against Milan in hand. For Bayern the match in La Coruña is crucial too. Their away matches at Lens (1-1) and Milan (1-2 loss) haven't brought sufficient points and their home match against Milan was lost too (1-2). But with a home match with Lens remaining, a victory against Deportivo will completely relive their options.

Bayern have not other option than to win in Spain, then to beat Lens at home while hoping other results go their way. But they risk even missing the consolation of playing UEFA Cup football. Much has to do with their defensive vulnerability, as they have leaked eight goals in Europe so far. According to goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, his coach Hitzfeld's tactics are too adventurous, and the team should concentrate more on defence. The Bavarian club is obviously hurt as discussions appear in public. "He's a goalkeeper," replies Hitzfeld. "He always wants to keep a clean sheet. He probably would like us to defend with nine men. But we brought some new players in ahead of the new season and it will take time before things settle down. I'm not as pessimistic as Kahn." But Kahn has another theory. "The amount of bad luck we have had is just impossible," he claims. "The Champions League doesn't like us this year," says Franz Beckenbauer. "We need a miracle. It's up to them to turn things around in Riazor."

Three days before the Bayern match, Depor receive a boost to morale when their losing streak ends at Rayo Vallecano. Man of the Match, again, is Roy Makaay with two goals. "This victory has given us a confidence boost," midfielder Mauro Silva claimed. "We felt very worried about the situation we were in, but showed that with a positive attitude much can be achieved."

Olivier Kahn, because of an injury, didn't make the Bayern team which stood at the kick-off on 29 October, 2002 in Riazor. But despite the must-win scenario, coach Ottmar Hitzfeld decided to start with one striker: Giovanne Elber. His reasons to keep Claudio Pizarro and Roque Santa Cruz benched were tactical: Bayern aimed at counter-attacking to repay Deportivo what they had done six weeks earlier.

Midfielder Mehmet Scholl had the first chance of the match, but his first-time shot hit the side-netting. But Bayern absorbed Deportivo's pressure well and looked more dangerous when attacking. But during the first half the tide changed. Depor's confidence grew and Makaay tested goalkeeper Wessels on two occasions. The best opportunity of the first half was of Fran, who had been replacing Valerón during the weeks before. But his shot from outside the Bayern box only hit the woodwork. Deportivo now started to dominate the match and had possession on Bayern's half, but this domination wasn't converted into goals. Meanwhile, the Germans were now only forty-five minutes away from elimination if the situation stayed like it was.

Hitzfeld must have noticed his tactics didn't work and replaced Salihamidzic by tall striker Santa Cruz during half-time. But that came too late. Bayern's attitude couldn't be changed around that quickly and Deportivo finally scored their goal. It was winger Ví­ctor Sánchez who blasted a 20-yard shot past goalkeeper Wessels and the situation of the Germans became helpless. Meanwhile, Deportivo now had their faith in their own hands if they maintained this score. Things looked positive for the Galicians, despite the rain, as Bayern looked extremely incapable of scoring goals. Another substitute, Lizarazu, missed the goal by inches. But slowly Bayern left their defence behind and went on an all-of-nothing attack.

With the rain now poring down in Riazor, Bayern scored their equalizer with thirteen minutes remaining. A cross from Scholl was headed in by Santa Cruz who rose high above the Depor defence. This ray of hope inspired Bayern. Elbert almost scored their second when he barely missed Zé Roberto's cross. At the other end Makaay remained dangerous as Bayern surged forward. Santa Cruz then was close to his second goal of the evening, until Makaay struck. The game is almost over as Capdevila escapes on the break and found Makaay. The Dutch striker stayed cool and scored his sixth goal of the tournament. Bayern are out.

As foreseen, Lens have beaten Milan in France and still threatened Deportivo. If Deportivo is to lose points in their next match at Milan, a win of Lens in Munich (who now even hadn't options to finish third) would still mean an exit of the Galicians. Hence the importance of Makaay's late goal.

"These are matches that will be written into our history," Irureta claimed afterwards. "Seeing ones like this, but also fighting and winning it, means it's a great day for Deportivo. Now we must enjoy it. And besides, we have found the spirit of Riazor back,". The coach summarized the match in the following way: "Bayern had a lot at stake against us. And the match was very equal in the first half, when Fran hit the bar. In the second half our first goal came at a good moment, although we fell back and gave them a chance to come back into the match. But in the end the goal of Makaay did justice and gives us much hope for qualifying for the second round."

Meanwhile, Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld found elimination a bitter pill to swallow. "This is a huge disappointment, not just because of this game, but because we have only taken one point from five games," he admitted. "It really hurts the club, but we can't get dramatic about things and it could be that some players struggled to handle the pressure." Hitzfeld refused to criticise his players for their performance against Deportivo, however. "We did everything we could to win, but we were up against a side that never gave anything up for lost. "Deportivo made huge sacrifices out there and they are a side to be taken very seriously," he said.

Deportivo: Juanmi - Lionel Scaloni, César, Naybet, Romero - Sergio, Mauro Silva, Ví­ctor Sánchez (84' Tristán), Fran (66' 'Toro' Acuña), Capdevila - Makaay (90' Donato)
Bayern Munich: Wessels - Sagnol, Kovac, Kuffour, Tarnat (60' Lizarazu) - Jeremies, Ballack (52' Fink), Salihamidzic (46' Santa Cruz), Scholl - Elber, Zé Roberto
Attendance: 32.000 in Riazor
Goals: 1-0: (56') Ví­ctor Sánchez, 1-1: (77') Santa Cruz, 2-1: (89') Makaay.