Football: Elber Adds Bright Edge to Bayern's Awkward Squad ; Tim Collings in Munich Finds a Brazilian Adapting Well to the Bavarian Ethic
Collings, Tim, The Independent (London, England)
WHEN GIOVANE ELBER went under the surgeon's knife in Munich in the middle of April, few of even the most vociferous Bayern Munich fans would have backed him to make a comeback, let alone a significant one, in the German club's Champions' League semi-final against Real Madrid.
The Spanish champions were, after all, the European Cup holders and widely regarded as the highest-quality team in the competition, virtually unbeatable, it seemed, in the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, and capable of scoring almost anywhere at will.
Elber, however, made light of all that with his performances in the two legs of the Bavarian side's demolition job on Vicente del Bosque's team. Not only did he strike decisively in both meetings, but he also upset Fernando Hierro to such a degree that it would have been little surprise to see the veteran captain of the Spanish aristocrats shown a red card for an act of impulsive retaliation. To say Elber is an awkward customer understates the point. He is a very awkward customer, who scores vital goals and whose skills, never mind his physical presence, have often been underestimated.
"Being able to play again, in such a short space of time after my operation, was incredible," he said before Wednesday night's tumultuous second leg at the Olympic Stadium. "But to score a goal in Madrid was even more incredible. I knew that their goalkeeper liked to stand three or four metres off his line, so I thought it was worth a go. You need a bit of luck at such times and, maybe, I wouldn't have tried if Ollie [Kahn] had been in goal, because it is always difficult to beat him."
Elber's strike in Spain was the foundation on which Bayern built their passage to the European Cup final in Milan on 23 May, making the return leg in Munich a relatively straightforward affair, particularly after he had given his side an early lead with another opportunist strike, this time with a cleverly placed header, after only eight minutes. It was a goal he had promised beforehand when he said he would "try to be everywhere on the field in this match and help the side in both penalty areas - and I hope to score an important goal".
This goal, however, was not only his sixth in the …
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Publication information: Article title: Football: Elber Adds Bright Edge to Bayern's Awkward Squad ; Tim Collings in Munich Finds a Brazilian Adapting Well to the Bavarian Ethic. Contributors: Collings, Tim - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: May 13, 2001. Page number: 5. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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