Jersey Swap: Ron-Robert Zieler and Timo Baumgartl. Zieler and Baumgartl were two of the chief contributors to keeping things level at 0-0 for as long as Stuttgart did, until Thomas Muller broke the deadlock in the 79th minute. Zieler racked up a total of 6 saves on the stats sheet, the most prolific of which came in the first minute of stoppage time when he did incredibly well to parry away Robert Lewandowski’s chipped shot that was on its way in. His save on Corentin Tolisso’s effort in the 36th minute was equally as impressive as he did well to make himself large and severely cut down Tolisso’s angle. Baumgartl, for the most part, was a rock in Stuttgart’s back line for the majority of the 90-plus minutes with his terrier-like tenacity and last-ditch challenges. He had the joint most tackles of any player in the match (5) alongside Santiago Ascacibar and was also 100 percent with his aerial duels (total of 3).
Tip of the Cap: Mats Hummels. After being an unused substitute for Bayern’s last two league matches, Hummels put in a massive shift at the Mercedes Benz-Arena. Alongside Jerome Boateng, Hummels was a rock in Bayern’s back line and proved again why he is the club’s best center back. His aerial presence was immense, winning 8 defensive and 2 offensive aerial challenges. He made a total of 4 interceptions, 3 important clearances, and alongside Rafinha, he was 100 percent with his attempted tackles. Although it wasn’t the most eye-catching performance from Hummels, it was the type of efficient shift that’s required if Bayern want to keep clean sheets, especially away from home. Also, a very happy 29th birthday to Mats!
Golf Clap: Joshua Kimmich. Kimmich was everywhere once again. Derek Rae just about summed up Kimmich’s performance with his commentary midway through the first half when he alluded to the fact that the 22-year old can be utilized in almost any position. In addition to constantly racing up and down the right channel, Kimmich drifted centrally at times, got well forward, and was pretty wise with his distribution. Not for the first time this season, he boasted the best pass completion rate of anyone else on the pitch, recording a rate of 93 percent and also had more touches on the ball than anyone else (total of 98). There’s really nothing this kid can’t do, to be quite honest, and his performance against Stuttgart illustrated how many hats he can wear.
Standing Ovation: Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller. As far as work rate and movement off the ball, where has this Lewandowski been all season? A goal was arguably the only thing missing from this positive performance against Stuttgart. More than any other match this season, he was checking back to receive possession, holding the ball up in Stuttgart’s third, and even tracked back at times for defensive duties — quite the rarity from Lewandowski. His final product could’ve been better, still not entirely sure how he didn’t convert the chance in the 91st minute after Zieler had initially saved James Rodriguez’s chipped effort. When Muller came on in the 65th minute for Tolisso, a bit more spaced opened up in Bayern’s attack, as if often the case when Muller plays in behind Lewandowski. He scored Bayern’s goal in the 79th minute, slipping in between two of Stuttgart’s defenders in the penalty box and he did incredibly well to control Kingsley Coman’s driven pass with his right foot and fire home with a venomous left-footed strike. A well-worked, well-deserved goal for Muller.
Thomas Muller loves playing Stuttgart.— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) December 16, 2017
His 7th career goal against VFB (but only his 2nd of this season) gives Bayern a late lead. #VFBFCB https://t.co/HtkSXDKvll
Meister of the Match: Sven Ulreich. #SvenTheWall is trending on Twitter for a reason. Plain and simple, Ulreich literally saved three points for Bayern, putting a firm right hand to Chadrac Akolo’s penalty to deny the Congolese striker. Jupp Heynckes’ beaming smile immediatley following Ulreich’s save underlined just how massive of a three points this was for Bayern, who will now end the Hinrunde atop the Bundesliga by at least 10 points. As important as Ulreich’s stoppage time penalty save was, the rest of his performance was solid as well. Ironically enough, it was Akolo whom he also denied in the 7th minute with a fantastic save, diving down to his left and getting an outstretched hand on the driven effort. He also was commanding in his penalty area for set pieces and looked pretty comfortable with his distribution out of the back, an area where he has showed some shakiness in the past.