In an international break with injury concerns that made several toss and turn at night, there was a silver lining. Bayern Munich players scored seven goals, including three separate Doppelpacks. Here are the top performances from Bayern's November international break:
Top 5 Performances
1. Arjen Robben, Netherlands
He would have been at the top of this list even before he doubled his money against Latvia over the weekend. Even though Guus Hiddink assigned him to the right flank in both of the Netherlands' matches, he was in command of the attack. It did not matter how many players Mexico and Latvia threw at him; he found a way to make them look silly, and combined with his mates to create acres of space in the final third. He is a key player as the Oranje shifts once again to a younger attack.
2. Xherdan Shaqiri, Switzerland
International breaks for Shaqiri has turned into an opportunity to prove himself on a high stage. He took advantage of that against Lithuania and Poland, recording two goals and two assists combined. When the Swiss opened their lead against Lithuania, Shaqiri got to show off his swift elusiveness and fancy footwork. For a player that has developing spatial awareness, he got in terrific positions to score, resulting in his goals. Logging performances like this is positive, but it comes once again in low-leverage situations, and he thrived when the matches opened up and he had space to move. That said, his showing will increase club attraction to his services.
3. Mario Götze and Thomas Müller, Germany
It was not the brightest of international breaks for the Nationalelf, but Götze and Müller made the two weeks a bit more bearable. They were the ones with the ideas when Germany ran out of them, both exchanging runs in the penalty area with not a lot of room to work with. The two of them scored against Gibraltar with fantastic spatial awareness and clinical finishing. Considering their background in adaptive build-up play, both dropped into the midfield to help start the play.
Germany manager Joachim Löw gathered a lot of new faces this time around, but both Götze and Müller had a rapport with their teammates that others could not establish. Even in the 22 minutes Müller played against Spain, the interplay between the two was the best on the pitch. They are becoming an inseparable couple for club and country, a partnership that could shape both of their careers in a very positive way.
5. Robert Lewandowski, Poland
No, he did not get on the scoresheet in any way, but he is not in a position to with Poland. His movement and his inventiveness were arguably the best of Bayern's players, and the only reason he did not find the back of the net was because service of his countrymen was severely lacking. He held up the play beautifully to allow his compatriots to arrive in the attacking third, attracting attention to himself to create space for his mates. Unless he faces an opponent that he can conquer all by himself, Lewandowski's performances with the national team will be similar to these ones.
Recapping the Rest
Jérôme Boateng and Manuel Neuer, Germany
Facing the amateur caliber of Gibraltar, Boateng and Neuer got to play much higher up the pitch than they do normally. Boateng essentially played as a holding midfielder in what developed into a 0-5-5 formation from Germany, while Neuer moved from pseudo sweeper to pseudo center back. Their contributions were minimal, but Boateng launched some memorable shots while Neuer made yet another spectacular save on a bodacious, ridiculous attempt from Liam Walker. Both eventually departed international duty early due to injuries – Neuer with knee pain, Boateng with a calf sprain.
Juan Bernat, Spain
When La Roja took on Belarus in the Euro Qualifiers, Vicente del Bosque elected to stick with Jordi Alba to insure his sides 3-0 victory. He did make it up to Bernat though, playing the 21-year-old a full shift in Spain's friendly against Germany. He did manage to get in the offensive third once or twice, but his main duty was to staple down the flank as Nolito and Isco weaved in attack. He appears comfortable in his country's colors, a good sign for his national team prospects in the future.
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Denmark
Although Morten Ollsen called in the 19-year-old to the Danish team, Højbjerg did not play a minute. He was not even on the team sheet in Denmark's friendly against Romania. No reports of an injury or an early return to Munich has surfaced.