The true mark of a champion is finding a way to win when the chips are against you. During Wednesday's Champions League match with the
back-to-back English Premier League champions Manchester City, Bayern were far from a full and healthy squad available to them.
Bastian Schweinsteiger, Holger Badstuber, Thiago Alcantara, Franck Ribery, and Javi Martinez all missed the match due to injury. Mehdi Benatia made his debut for Bayern and was just coming into match fitness after missing the entire preseason. Arjen Robben and Rafinha received their first minutes since returning from injury.
Here are four performances that stood out for me, in no particular order.
Making his debut on the season after recovering from an injury, Rafinha put in quite the shift along the right side. While he showed signs of rustiness in some of his long distance passes, Otherwise, playing in the wingback position that evolves from Pep Guardiola's 3-4-3/3-5-2/4-2-3-1/4-3-3 (You get the point.), Rafinha did quite well in tracking back and aiding Mehdi Benatia along the right side of defense.
Of course, Jerome Boateng has to be mentioned here thanks to his spectacular goal to win the game for FC Bayern. However, it's not just his goal that deserves credit on the night. Boateng was a rock in the center of the three man backline. He constantly cut out through balls and did very well with his passing out of the back to build attacks. Plus, he got forward quite well on the night. On the whole, it was a fantastic performance for Boateng, and he rarely put a foot wrong.
David Alaba is the perfect player for the way Guardiola wants this team to play. The Austrian started the match on the left side of the back three. However, through the match, he found himself doing link-up play between the defense and the attacking midfield and in the attacking midfield. There were several times during the match where Alaba would be around the Bayern penalty area breaking up an attacking, passing the ball away, and then receiving a pass on top of the City penalty area for a shot. Alaba was great.
Finally, Xabi Alonso was superb. Since making the move to Munich, Alonso has started every match in the center of midfield, and he's put in excellent performance after excellent performance. He seems to see the entire field from every angle and almost always chooses the correct pass. You need a curling pass across the field up the field about 30 yards? He hits hit. You need a pass with the outside of his foot through traffic to hit a runner? He hits it. Alonso is currently conducting this team, and he's doing a spectacular job.