When Bayern Munich clinched the Bundesliga in record time, the real question for the remaining game in the league was how prominently the youth team products were going to feature. That question was particularly relevant in the case of 18-year-old Danish jewel Pierre Hojbjerg. He had clearly bypassed whatever education was possible in the fourth division a long time ago, but the ability to make the jump to the first team was always a looming question.
Saturday's 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund was his official welcoming to the main stage. Locking down a right flank while facing the attacking threats of Marco Reus, Kevin Großkreutz, and Marcel Schmelzer is no easy task for the likes of Rafinha and Philipp Lahm, let alone for an co-opted defensive midfielder.
He registered 112 touches over 102 minutes of play, with a 78% passing percentage (and a shot!) while staring down the barrels of Europe's most formidable press. Any player in the world would probably be happy with that performance. But on top of that performance in possession and attack, it was his defensive contributions that were truly astounding as he registered 18 defensive actions, including 6 tackles and 9 recoveries in locking down the entire right side in conjunction with Jerome Boateng.
More then his impressive performance against Borussia Dortmund, it's the ability to show the tactical awareness and flexibility to be a highly important, and re-toolable, piece for Pep Guardiola that has Pierre Hojbjerg situated to be the next big star on this Bayern Munich team. One of the biggest barriers to youth promotion and development isn't the technical skill, but the mental discipline and situational awareness that underpins high level tactical play. His performances against Augsburg and Braunschweig were impressive in their own rights (despite the loss to Augsburg) and provided a thorough underpinning to his ability that allowed Guardiola to be confident in his selection on Saturday. It was Hojbjerg's biggest question mark coming down the stretch. Could he make the jump from the Regionalliga to the Bundesliga tactically, or was he potentially resigned to another season in the reserves (hopefully, in the much more competitive 3.Liga) ?
His performance on Sunday showed that he is ready contribute to the first team. Pierre-Emil Hojbjerg has arrived.