Italians feel the pain as enforcer Gustavo leaves Bayern sitting pretty

It is less than a month since Bayern Munich parted company with their captain Mark van Bommel, yet the Dutchman's crunching tackles are already a distant memory for the Bundesliga champions.

Luiz Gustavo, a young Brazilian who is little known in his own country, gave an added dimension to Bayern when he played in Van Bommel's old position in front of the defence in Wednesday's Champions League first-leg 1-0 win away to Internazionale, who beat the Germans in last year's final.

He needed only a few minutes of the game at San Siro to show that he shares Van Bommel's knack for getting away with tackles that other players might expect to be booked for. Twice he clattered the Inter playmaker Wesley Sneijder with late tackles yet he escaped a yellow card, much to the Dutchman's anger. Sneijder quickly became frustrated, never got into the game and one of Inter's biggest threats had been nullified.

But Gustavo, often used as a left- back rather than a defensive midfielder, showed he has much more than a destructive streak. He had two good attempts on goal in the first 20 minutes and his distribution was superior to Van Bommel's, even if he lacks the Dutchman's leadership qualities.

"Naturally it was a very good Champions League debut for him," said the Bayern coach, Louis van Gaal, who seems one of the few managers bold enough to comment on individual performances. "It was not so easy for him as he often plays on the left side of defence."

Van Bommel, who spent four and a half years at Bayern and was the first non-German to captain the club, left for Milan in January after falling out of favour with the Bavarians.

Many wondered how they would fare without the rugged Dutchman, whose mere presence on the pitch could make opponents apprehensive. Gustavo had arrived less than a month earlier from their Bundesliga rivals Hoffenheim, saying he was ready for anything and that he preferred to play in midfield rather than defence.

His transfer prompted Hoffenheim's coach, Ralf Rangnick, to quit in protest at a decision he said was taken by the club management without his consultation. The 23-year-old is one of a number of Brazilians who have established themselves in Europe without ever being noticed in their own country.

Born near Sao Paulo, he played for two clubs in Brazil's north-east region before signing for Hoffenheim in 2007. He has already said in an interview that he would consider taking out German nationality if offered the chance.

"[I admire the] discipline, punctuality and the way people always behave properly and honestly," he told Bayern shortly after his move. "If you agree something with someone here, it's honoured, whether it's an invitation to dinner or a contract. Unfortunately, it's not like that in Brazil."

scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape