By FRANCO PANIZO
HARRISON, N.J. — Bayern Munich are heading to the MLS All-Star Game with a little bit of momentum.
Claudio Pizarro scored on a headed effort in the first half and Bayern Munich stood firm defensively to pick up a 1-0 win over Chivas de Guadalajara in an open and feisty friendly at Red Bull Arena on Thursday night.
The German club was in control of its first stateside preseason match for large stretches and outshot its Liga MX counterpart 12-5, but still needed a huge late save from goalkeeper Tom Starke to ensure a victory before next week’s clash with the MLS All-Stars.
“I’m so, so happy for our performance because we are (missing some key players),” said Bayern manager Pep Guardiola. “We have a lot of young, young players, but we have competed very well. That’s why I’m so, so, so proud because I didn’t expect to win our last tournament in Deutschland against Borussia Moenchengladbach and Wolfsburg and we did because the team played with a good attitude and today the same, so I’m happy.”
The decisive strike of the match played in front of 25,023 fans came in the 24th minute. Pizarro, a late addition to Bayern’s starting lineup, met a corner kick from the left from captain Franck Ribery and nodded it past Chivas goalkeeper Antonio Rodriguez.
U.S. Men’s National Team youngster Julian Green was on the match-day roster for Bayern, but did not enter the match as he only recently recovered from an injury.
“He just trained in two, three sessions. He needs a little bit more,” said Guardiola of Green. “The physios are going to tell me when he’s ready, he’s fit to play. It’s a pity because I know he played here with the U.S. National Team and all the people expect to see him, but he has a little bit problem in his knee and that’s why we have to take care him.”
It was an open affair from the onset, and Chivas attacker Angel Reyna had a good look on goal just minutes into the game when he pushed a shot at the top of the 18-yard box wide of the left post.
Bayern would respond with a number of chances, and Pizarro was at the center of many them. The Peruvian striker combined well with Ribery and Roberto Lewandoski, and had two shots that barely missed the mark sandwiched in between his goal.
“From the little we’ve been able to train, things are going well for us as a team,” said the 35-year-old Pizarro. “We won a title in preseason already as well as this game, which I think is important for us, and now we continue to prepare for the start of the Bundesliga.”
The match got testy throughout the first half, with several hard fouls being committed by both teams to make the game look anything but a friendly.
Chivas struggled throughout the 90 minutes to defend Bayern’s speedy flank players and also had a hard time when Bayern combined through the middle with quick passes and electric off-ball movement. But the Liga MX side got into a rhythm when a flurry of substitutions were made in the second half and could have found an equalizer had it been a bit sharper in the final third.
Substitute forward Carlos Fierro missed on a pair of good looks a few minutes apart. He hit a weak shot while running diagonally that Starke easily stopped and was incredibly denied again by a Starke kick save following a perfect cross from Sergio Napolo that perfectly found Fierro open in between both Bayern centerbacks.
“It was an intense game,” said Chivas head coach Carlos Bustos. “We of course can’t be happy with the result, but the performance of the team was good. We stood toe-to-toe with a team of great quality … and we had chances to change the result. What leaves is at peace is that the group is getting better, and for playing a team of this level, we did very well.”
Bayern looked to have taken a 2-0 lead a minute into second-half stoppage time, but the audacious chip from substitute Lucas Scholl that found the back of the net was negated due to an offside call.
The German heavyweights will now head to Portland, Oregon to take on the MLS All-Stars on Aug. 6.
“Now, it’s recover” said Guardiola. “Tomorrow we recover the players that played 90 minutes, 80 minutes and we can train one, two, three session that we need to train in this period. Then we prepare the last game against the MLS All-Stars and I’m pretty sure we are going to see a very, very good game next (Wednesday) in Portland.”
What do you think of Bayern’s 1-0 victory over Chivas? Impressed with the German club’s performance? Surprised by how chippy the first half was?
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