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Five observations from Bayern Munich’s nervy 3-1 win over Hannover

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It was a much tougher game than the scoreline suggests, but Bayern got the job done.

MUNICH, GERMANY - DECEMBER 02: Salif Sane of Hannover (l) fights for the ball with Thomas Mueller of Bayern Muenchen during the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Hannover 96 at Allianz Arena on December 2, 2017 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Salif Sané fights for the ball with Thomas Müller, Allianz Arena, December 2, 2017.
Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images

#1: Thomas Muller had a triumphant comeback, but his demons still haunt him

It might sound strange to say this, but Bayern Munich is not Bayern Munich without Thomas Muller. For all the superstar attackers and midfielders on the team, it’s somewhat poetic that the young lad from southern Bavaria remains the club’s most impactful player in attack. Donning the captain’s armband in his return from injury, Muller delivered a masterclass performance, injecting life into an attack that had been growing stale in recent weeks.

Slotting back into his usual place behind the striker, the World Cup winner was quick to make his presence felt, delivering the assist for Vidal’s opener. He remained a threat throughout the game, assisting Robert Lewandowski on a goal, which was later disallowed by the video assistant, and creating the chance that led to Kingsley Coman’s equalizer.

However, there were issues. On at least three occasions, Muller found himself in a good position to shoot yet chose to square the ball to a teammate. All three chances were wasted opportunities that could have cost the Bavarians in what was a very close game. It is clear that Thomas Muller is still struggling from the lack of confidence that has plagued him since early 2016. Jupp Heynckes has his work cut out to get Bayern’s raumdeuter back to his best.

#2: Kingsley Coman is such a beast, and he’s getting better

I feel like I’m repeating myself. Kingsley Coman has been so good this season, mentioning him in the observations seems like cheating. What’s next? “The grass was green.” “James has a great smile.” “Jupp Heynckes is amazing.” etc. Coman having a good performance is becoming such a regular occurrence that it doesn’t seem worth mentioning.

However, today’s Coman performance was one with a difference. The Frenchman’s greatest failing this season has been his final ball — attack after attack squandered by a misplaced cross or a fluffed shot. Not today. Coman delivered lethal cut backs and crosses in the final third, missing out on multiple assists due to some profligate finishing from his teammates. He completed an incredible seven dribbles, more than the rest of the team combined, and Robert Lewandowski should thank him for the penalty he won, otherwise the Pole didn’t look like scoring on the night.

Bayern may have found its Franck Ribery successor.

#3: Mats Hummels is good

Is there a better central defender in Europe than Mats Hummels right now? Paired with his world cup winning partner Jerome Boateng, the German delivered another solid performance in central defense. Conceding a goal on a corner was unfortunate, but there wasn’t much he could do about that.

Up next is Neymar, Mbappe, and Cavani. Is Bayern’s defense ready to face them? Not quite, but Mats Hummels’ current form gives the Bavarians a fighting chance.

#4: Rafinha is underappreciated

How many teams have a third choice left back (who is also a second choice right back) as good as Rafinha? Go ahead, name them. I’ll wait.

Rafinha put in a solid but not spectacular shift in yet another outing at left back, with Bayern grappling with injuries to both David Alaba and Juan Bernat. The Brazilian was invaluable defensively, making timely blocks and clearances on dangerous Hannover attacks. In attack, he was less successful, severely hampered due to playing on the side of his weaker foot — but it didn’t matter as Kingsley Coman made up for it.

With David Alaba making a return to fitness, Rafinha is unlikely to feature against PSG. However, the presence of a backup like him demonstrates how strong Bayern are on the bench, and the team is lucky to have him.

#5: What does this mean for PSG?

It was a good match day for Bayern Munich. Dortmund drew and Hoffenheim smashed RB Leipzig 4-0 (and Bayern loanee Serge Gnabry scored two goals). However, one important question must be asked: Are Bayern ready to face PSG?

Clear words from Jerome Boateng: “If we play against Paris like we did in the first half today, they’ll shoot us down.”

Paris Saint-Germain suffered their first setback of the season today, a 2-1 away loss to Strasbourg. Their opponents weren’t exactly a powerhouse either — Strasbourg are in 14th place on the league table. The signs look promising for Bayern, who are still healing from a slew of injuries sustained in recent weeks. However, Manuel Neuer and Thiago Alcantara will be missed, and David Alaba’s fitness remains questionable. Can the Bavarians pull off the win at home?

Poll

Can Bayern Munich beat PSG at home?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    Yes, and they’ll win the group.
    (119 votes)
  • 69%
    Yes, but they won’t win the group.
    (386 votes)
  • 8%
    No.
    (47 votes)
552 votes total Vote Now