Bayern 3-1 Arsenal: Player Ratings and Analysis

Dennis Grombkowski

I don't usually do these, because they give some of our more rancorous commentors a chance to hoot and complain. But I'm watching the replay right now, and it somehow feels appropriate. All I ask is that, if you're going to complain, at least read the whole post all the way through before you do. And note that there's a poll at the end.

First, a brief review of our grading system (this is important, because the grades might not mean what you would take them to mean:

F - awful, did nothing right, should have been left in the dressing room

D - below average. Mistake-prone, or anonymous when we needed him to assert himself, or both. But not so bad that it was embarrassing; a novice viewer might not understand why he was so bad. A "D" is just run-of-the-mill poor game.

C - straight average. Nothing catastrophic, nothing terrible, but no great positive plays. This could also conceivably be a guy who made several good plays but one awful mistake, etc. LISTEN UP: a "C" is NOT "bad." It just means "average, for him."

B - above average, solid, "yeah, he played well" match. More than just "avoided mistakes" - to get a B, you have to be assertive and really look to throw yourself into the game, and then do it with at least some effectiveness.

A - excellent. Did everything right, exceeded expectations, made great play after great play. Even a casual fan who watched the game would say, "man, that guy is amazing."

There are plus (+) and minus (-) grades between each one, which should hopefully be self-explanatory. There is no A+ though. A is as high as you can go - this ain't my crappy-ass law school.

Ready? Here we go.

Mandzukic: B

The goal was maybe a tiny bit lucky, but he still had to make the long run to get there. Was pretty threatening at times, and he had a pair of close misses in the first half. If that slicing header had gone in, he'd be at an A- or an A, and probably MotM. He was hard for Arsenal to stay with, and even when they did, he dragged defenders around and opened up space

Kroos: A-

That goal was even better than it looked: it's tempting, on the full volley, to try to send a screaming line drive up into the corner. But he digested the situation instantaneously, realized that a low shot or a bouncer to the near post would be a better shot, and adjusted accordingly. Also had several precise passes and covered a lot of ground - when Ribery wanders from one side to the other, Toni is usually the one who drops back a bit and serves as ballast.

He had one play in the 2d half when a loose ball was right within 3 yards of him, and someone (Rosicky?) came from further away and beat him to it, leading to a spell of possession for Arsenal. But I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he was exhausted.

Ribery: B-

Upon watching the replay, he wasn't quite as excellent as I thought the first time around (although a B- is still respectable). He covered a ton of ground, but he had the ball stolen from him pretty egregiously at one point, and his dribbling game was just OK (by his own high standards). Still, he's a force: Arsenal definitely knew where he was and he made their defense readjust several times.

Mueller: B

Who Scored has him ranked higher than Kroos, but I think Toni's goal was better. Mueller's goal was nice, too, but had a certain element of "right place, right time." Did all of the usual Mueller things: made dummy runs to distract defenders, knew how to get to an open spot when a teammate needed help, and drew at least 2 fouls that I can remember. His reckless sliding challenge to earn a yellow brings him down a slight bit.

Schweinsteiger: C+

A few good passes and no horrible errors, but pretty much just an average game from Bastian's standards. Even looked a tiny bit gassed in the early 2d half, when Arsenal was maintaining possession. Had one free kick that came semi-close, but couldn't get it to bite the we he sometimes can.

At about 49 minutes, there's a poor play where he had a semi-break down the right side, with Mueller further out to his left. He took an extra dribble rather than pass to Mueller, who would have had a chance to either race into goal or give it right back. Then, just when the defense had readjusted and it seemed like Bastian might have actually had a path to goal, he THEN decided to pass out to Mueller and had it deflected. At the time, we were up 2-0, but it looked a few minutes later like it could come back to haunt us. Let's move on before I decide to change this to a straight-up "C."

Martinez: B

Who Scored has him at the lowest passing percentage of our middies and forwards (at a pedestrian 73 percent), but I still think he had a very good, above average match. Had at least 2 genuine defense-to-offense interceptions; not just getting in the way of an Arsenal pass to break it up, but actually going from "Arsenal has the ball" to "holy shit, now Bayern is pushing forward" in a single touch.

His tackling was just "solid," not amazing, but that's partly because there were stretches where we were happy to let Arsenal eat up possession 50 yards from the goal, especially when we were already up by 2. If we'd had a need to be more aggressive in going after the ball with crunching tackles, I feel certain that both Bastian and Javi would have had the ability to do so.

Lahm: B+

Had a good defense-to-offense interception of his own in the first half, kept Poldi bottled up pretty good, and prevented Walcott from doing anything on a 1-on-1. He was also pretty useful getting downfield and feeding the forwards. Goes from a B to a B+ because of the assist on the last goal; although that had an element of luck, he still had to put it somewhere where Mandzukic could get near it.

Alaba: C-

Harsh? Well, I have high standards for him. Got caught out of position for Arsenal's early chance down the flank, and that stumble-and-collapse sequence later in the first half was pretty ugly. Made up for it a bit by making himself useful going forward and by a good poke-steal from Walcott in the second half. And his energy was good (as usual). Still, against a more ruthless team, he might have cost us a goal.

Dante: B

Just a normal Dante match - which is to say, he tackled well, shut down that side of the field and smothered several opportunities for the opponent. This guy has become a rock on the back line. You can tell that Neuer really trusts him, too. One instance in which he tried to clear a ball and knocked it right to an Arsenal player keeps him from MotM consideration (along with the fact that we had several other guys who played great).

van Buyten: A-

I know I'm biased, but man, he was everywhere. Had a few great interceptions, including one that led to an immediate break for Bayern. Used his bulk to control the area, and even moved fairly quickly in choking off some Arsenal passing options. The only blemish was that free kick, which I think wasn't even his idea to take it (and even then, he scrambled after the ricochet to almost create a chance).

Neuer: C

Classic "good cancels bad" rating. Horrible play on that corner, and the kind of mistake he's certainly been coached against. His 2 subsequent reaction saves preserved the win, though, and I sure wouldn't trade him for Szczesny.

Robben: A-

All the usual good (speed, energy, touch) and none of usual bad (selfishness, predictability). The pass that led to Lahm's assist is one he wouldn't usually make. I know he wouldn't want to hear it, but he's actually very effective in that super-sub role: once the opposing defense has finally gotten used to Mueller's cagey, cerebral game, turning Robben's speed and agression loose on their flank is brutally effective.

Gustavo, Gomez: Incomplete

Neither played 20 minutes, so I'll let then off with "Incomplete" ratings. And yes, for Gomez, that's a let off.

Fox Sports: D-

Unlike some observers, I don't think Gus Johnson was terrible, and I like his energy, but he made a few mistakes. The other guy was pretty poor (not even knowing how to pronounce "Bayern" or "van Buyten?"). And the mistakenly-attributed first half yellow card to Mueller was a nice touch.

Man of the Match:

You tell me. In the poll. Below.

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