At times, Bayern Munich players could have believed they were competing in a match between national teams – and not a Champions League tournament game between Europe’s top clubs.
The packed 39,000-seat stadium in Lviv was full of banners in the Ukrainian national colors. Ukrainian fans frequently bellowed “U-kra-i-na” in harmony, and even once, they stood and sang the national anthem.
This was not a typical Champions League game by any standards.
First the score: Shakhtar Donetsk and Bayern Munich tied 0-0. That, in itself, is a victory for the Ukrainian club, which hasn’t played in its own stadium in war-torn eastern Ukraine since July, hadn’t played a competitive game since December and was forced on Tuesday to play in Lviv, hundreds of miles from its home turf.
Add to that the fact that Shakhtar drew a tie against a club that is one of the best in the world.
Bayern Munich, which won the Champions League two years ago, pulverized Hamburg 8-0 in a Bundesliga match last week. It leads the Bundesliga with 52 points, ahead of its nearest competitor VfL Wolfsburg with 44. If the club lacks anything, it’s not self-confidence.