A lot of drama ensued over the international break, most of it coming in the final matches of qualifying for the UEFA European Championship. The drama didn't stop there though, for no one probably expected Brazil and Argentina to both lose their first World Cup qualifying matches.
Wherever the drama took place, Bayern Munich players were a big part of it. Group D had most of the action of course, Germany and Poland hanging on to finish first and second despite dropping more points than they would have liked. The international break also saw Arturo Vidal and Douglas Costa square off for the first time as teammates, and Joshua Kimmich made an even stronger case to his first team organizers.
Here are the top performances from the international break, as well as the other occurrences that transpired involving Bayern's best stars.
1. Robert Lewandowski, Poland
No goals had more magnitude in this last round of qualifying than Lewandowski's. He was not just scoring goals, but was scoring goals when he needed to score goals. His movement was on point, his finishing was emphatic, and the attention he commanded helped unlock a stingy Republic of Ireland defense. This man is lighting up the football world, and it does not matter what crest is on his chest.
2. Arturo Vidal, Chile
There may be questions on whether he should have played or not, but no one can fault his efforts when he was on the field. Watching Chile dominate in midfield, and one can see why Jorge Sampaoli did not keep Vidal on the bench. As he has done at the club level for years, he was doing everything in midfield for his country: directing the play, making late runs, hunting down dribblers, and unleashing challenging shots. Oh, and the give-and-go he had with Alexis Sanchez was pretty fun to watch too.
3. Manuel Neuer, Germany
His chances to shine did not come very often with Germany's possession, but he showed up many of the times he needed to. Only two goals went into his net, one coming from a well-executed counterattack form the Republic of Ireland's Shane Long and the other on a fire cracking volley from Georgia's Jab Kankava. He was the true last line of defense in many of the saves he made, ensuring Germany stayed in each match they struggled to extract points from. Germany has several issues they have to iron out before the Euros, but Neuer showed he was not one of them.
Joshua Kimmich, Germany U21
The caveat of the U21 level may apply here, but that should not take away from the outstanding week he had with the DFB-Junioren. He excelled in the high playmaking role Horst Hrubesch thrust him in against Finland, even getting on the scoresheet. He returned to the deep-lying commander against the Faroe Islands, and watched as his compatriots put six goals past the small island nation. Kimmich showed how versatile of a midfielder he can be, an attribute bound to increase his chances at playing time.
Thiago Alcântara, Spain
His return to the national team was not as big of a deal as Diego Costa's exclusion from it, and his stud performance came in a match that did not matter. Nonetheless, Thiago deserves praise for the showing he put in against Ukraine, especially since he was combining with players he has never played with before. In a side filled with fantastic playmakers, his combinations and passing was a step above. Unfortunately reckless challenges and a tackle that could have lead to a second yellow card removes him from the list.
Thomas Müller, Germany
Needing to execute more of a playmaking role for Die Mannschaft, Müller did what he could to facilitate Germany's attack. It was not his fault Marco Reus, Mesut Özil, and Ilkay Gundogan did not finish off the chances he created for them. He did have a goal from the penalty spot to reward his efforts in the international break, but his time with Germany could have looked much better if his compatriots did a better job finding the target.
The biggest storyline of this international break was Bayern's continued injury misfortune. Both Mario Gotze and Kingsley Coman had to depart their respective qualifiers with muscle injuries, leaving Bayern thin in the wing position once again. Götze will hope to regain full fitness during the Winterpause in January, but fortunately Coman's injury is not expected to keep him out for too long.
The other injury scare came from Douglas Costa, who had some scary collisions with Chile's Francisco Silva and Venezuela's Tomás Rincon. Both times he was able to walk it off, even though he looked a little gimpy doing so. He certainly was able to recover, for he was only substituted once in both of the qualifiers he played. He also stayed on long enough to pick out Ricardo Oliveira on another sharp delivery.
Jérôme Boateng played both of Germany's games, though his performances were not of the "standout" variety. He came forward at the right times, and even had four shots in the two matches to show for it. He could not recover in time to stop Long from getting the breakthrough goal for the Republic of Ireland, but he was trying to put out the flames Mats Hummels ignited when he got torched. Boateng used this international break to reestablish his standing as Germany's most important defender.
The man with the least amount of qualifying pressure was David Alaba, who played 155 minutes for Marcel Koller and Austria. He sat deeper in possession than he usually does with Austria, letting Martin Harnik and Marko Arnautović drive the play forward from the flanks. He was there to switch the play and help Julian Baumgartlinger shield the back four.
The Bayern players will slowly return to team training over the next few days, some having to recover from the injuries they suffered in the international break. The team will form up to prepare to travel to Bremen on Saturday.