Football is Mathematics, or is it?
Bayern Munich midfielder Xabi Alonso had declared prior to the match against City: “Football is not mathematics. There’s no determined formula where you can buy success.” It seemed that the Basque birthday boy was on a mission to prove his point with his outstanding performance (amongst other things scoring the equalizing goal from a free-kick), right up until the 85th minute where his misplaced pass played in Sergio Aguero who scored and the momentumin the game changed. Fast forward another five minutes and Bayern were looking at their first defeat of the Champions League group stage, when the Argentinean striker completed his hat trick.
Alonso, was trying to emphasise that spending millions on players can’t guarantee success and in a way we agree, but for certain, making the wrong “mathematical” decisions will make it much more difficult. Liverpool where not able to stop Luis Suarez, another super-elite striker, from moving to another super-rich club, just as Spurs couldn’t with Gareth Bale and Arsenal couldn’t with the half-dozen players who’ve made the trek up to Manchester in recent years. City, who paid £38million for the 26 year-old, decided to act in order to avoid similar attractions offering a new five-year contract worth £65m, which the Argentinean readily signed.
One could easily argue that certain formulae do buy football success as, if City had lost Aguero over the summer period, then they would not have managed to beat Bayern on Tuesday night. The same would also argue that the Champions League favourites, Bayern, Real and Barcelona are all structured applying similar formulae such as Alonso referred to when analysing City. The German champions have for years been buying up all the countries’ best talents without any concern about weakening their opponents and consequently, the competition in the Bundesliga. It is apparent, that the final victory is more important than having a competitive and “fun to watch” league. Who can argue with that when internal success translates to European one too?
For all the money both City and Chelsea have spent in recent times, Chelsea have only managed to win just 1 Champions League (2012) and finish runner-up (in 2008) in another. City only managing to qualify form the group stage last season with Barcelona then knocking them out 4-1 on aggregate, compared to Bayern’s win in 2013 and 2 second places in 2012 and 2010.
On Tuesday night, City were out-passed, out-thought and frequently humbled by a Bayern side that were down to 10 men after 20 minutes. Eleven-versus-eleven, Guardiola’s team had been playing their own version of keep-ball and a man down, they continued in the same manner, whilst City, in stark contrast, looked erratic and prone to making mistakes. City though, still have a chance of qualifying for the knock-out stages, if they manage to defeat Roma at the Stadio Olympico (something Bayern made look easy winning 7-1), but when will we be able to say that all the money spent has made them a great European side? I for one, think there will have to be a great deal more mathematical calculations for that to actually happen.