It's once again my honor to pick the Man of the Match from Bayern Munich's 2-0 victory over Köln on Saturday. Today, the award goes to Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso. He's very clearly the conductor of the Bayern Munich engine at this point in the campaign, and it's helped the team exert control over the midfield in every match.
The next time Bayern play keep an eye on Alonso in the middle of the park. Yes, we've spoken before about his near pinpoint accuracy with his passes, but that's not what you should pay attention to next time. Keep your eye on Xabi when he doesn't have the ball. Nearly every time, he's made himself available to receive a pass from the Bayern player with the ball at his feet. It's not flashy, but it's an invaluable skill in Guardiola's style where your defense is possession.
.@XabiAlonso touched the ball 206 times today - a new BL record. The previous highest was 187 (@Thiago6). Well done! pic.twitter.com/I3a6D4IwI1— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) September 27, 2014
This trait is exactly why Alonso shattered Thiago's record of the most touches in a single game from last season. He makes himself available to receive a pass from the defense before linking up with the offense. How much so? According to Bundesliga.com, Alonso played 175 passes and received 175 passes, and as expected, the majority of them were to your three starting defenders. With Alonso dropping deeper next to Jerome Boateng in possession, the majority of his passes were to David Alaba and Rafinha into space in attempts to start the offense.
Alonso's play is allowing Bayern to let Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thiago Alcantara completely work their way back to fitness before returning to the squad. When they do return it also now allows Guardiola the opportunity to rotate world class players in the midfield and know that the team quality won't drop very much as a result.
We'll be back tomorrow with how the community rated players following the match and who you selected as the man of the match.