The International Champions Cup has made its way to the United States this year with premier teams from all around the world competing in friendly matches to begin their preparation for their upcoming seasons.
Bayern Munich and AC Milan met in Chicago at Soldier Field Stadium where they held individual training sessions, pre-game press conferences, and played an exhilarating match ending in a draw and followed by penalty kicks that A.C. Milan was able to win 5-3. The attendance that night was 44,826.
This was an important win for AC Milan considering Bayern Munich’s skill. Italian coach Vincenzo Montella referred to the team as one of the best in the world.
“This is a test to see what we want to achieve in the season,” said Montella, “combining both fun and determination is going to lead us to victory.”
But with Bayern Munich’s coach Carlo Ancelotti having previously coached the opposing Italian team, many questions arose regarding his stance on the game that would be played the next day.
“I have no regrets, I considered it very carefully. My decision was very pondered and precise..the biggest issue was that I needed to take a break. I am glad to be here,” said the German coach who admits that A.C. Milan is still a very special club to him and still has a piece of his heart.
The first half was an eventful one with Ancelotti’s new German team coming out strong. The first half, primarily the first quarter, were strongly dominated by Bayern Munich in terms of posession, but despite Bayern ending the half with 68.3% versus Milan’s 31.7% and Bayern outpassing Milan 341 to 153, both teams ended the half with only three shots on target.
A goal was overturned in the 12th minute due to an offsides call after a short cross over the top of the Bayern Munich defense was sloppily knocked away by German goalkeeper Sven Ulreich allowing the Italian striker to follow through on the back post.
This close chance sparked AC Milan’s intensity, which ended up earning them an unassisted goal in the 23rd minute by M’Baye Niang, who beat Bayern Munich sweeper Javi Martinez just outside the 18-yard box, allowing him an open shot in to the back right corner of the net.
Their excitement was cut short, however, when Bayern Munich’s forward Franck Ribéry got a foot on a wide cross from David Alaba in the 28th minute, leaving Italian goal keeper Giacomo Donnarumma stunned.
The speed of play continued to increase, with another potential opportunity by Niang cut short when Bayern Munich’s fullback Rafinha conceded a foul and a yellow card trying to stop the explosive speed of the AC Milan striker in their defensive third.
The yellow proved to be a worthwhile sacrifice when Bayern was able to score a breathtaking goal in the 38th minute by David Alaba who struck the ball with immense power into the back of the net from 35 yards away after being assisted by Philipp Lahm.
In the pre-game press conference, Lahm discussed the importance of age range for the future of their squad.
He notes that there is a wide range of ages on the team – “It’s not just old and young, though, there is a solid middle layer. The youth work has been a big part of Bayern and a big part of the identification of the club. [The older players are] very important to keep them going, we all appreciate them as a part of the team.”
The whole Italian team came into the second half determined and on their toes, scoring a quick goal in just three minutes into the half. A sloppy and unprepared Bayern Munich defense allowed a ball crossed into the box to bounce around a little to long allowing AC Milan’s Andrew Bertolacci to poke the ball past the German goalkeeper tieing up the game 2-2.
Despite their initial shock in the first few minutes of the half, Bayern picked up their game and began creating chances on goal. The 56th minute brought some anxiety for Milan as Xabi Alonso of Bayern Munich was able to dodge the Italian defense and rip a shot that went soaring just outside of the post with AC Milan’s goalkeeper not in position to save the ball if it were on frame.
Another disappointing surprise came for Bayern Munich, when one of their fullbacks deflected a shot by Kucka leaving Ulreich diving the wrong direction.
Tension rose as the game turned 3-2 in favor of the Italian team. AC Milan was able to hold off the charging Bayern offense, until they finally cracked under the pressure and gave away a sloppy foul in the 90th minute of the game earning the Germans a penalty kick that was sunk by Ribéry, sending the game into penalty kicks.
The first seven penalty kicks were swift and clean with even a suave chip by Kucka right down the middle of the goal over a diving Donnarumma. It was until Donnarumma made a marvelous save that set up Bonaventura for the winning shot. The A.C. Milan keeper then went on to win Player of the Match for his breathtaking block against the shot of Bayern’s Rafinha.