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Match awards from Bayern Munich’s 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in Der Klassiker - Pokal edition

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Jerome Boateng celebrates his goal, December 20, 2017.
Photo by A. Beier/Getty Images for FC Bayern

Jersey Swap: Christian Pulisic. This a case of wishful thinking/future planning. It is easy to imagine swapping Pulisic for Frank Ribery as the inverted winger on the left side. It is not even scary to think about breaking the club record transfer fee to bring Pulisic to Bayern this summer, sign Ribery and Arjen Robben to one-year extensions as they both realize they are Jedi Masters who can complete the training of Pulisic and Kinglsey Coman so both promising players can fulfill their destinies. Zero apologies for the Star Wars analogy.

Tip of the Cap: David Alaba. He was full of menacing pace and combined with Ribery to really provide well-connected play on the left side. When he is fit, Alaba is an interchangeable and indispensable part of the Bayern squad. Jupp Heynckes has been able to deploy him with increasing versatility, and more importantly, link up with Ribery, whose deficiencies are masked by Alaba’s to cover for him, draw attention and let him play a worry-free, lung-busting 60 minutes.

Golf Clap: Niklas Sule. The young German giant paired with Jerome Boateng to give Bayern an imposing pair of center backs at both ends of the field. Sule’s thunderous header off the cross in the 12th minute rebounded right into the path of Boateng, who cooly finished his own header for the opening goal. Sule, playing in place of an ill Mats Hummels, has been a rock-solid addition for Bayern. He is dangerous on set pieces, deceptively fast and an accurate passer. Three traits often associated with Hummels but have also been tagged to Sule with each passing performance.

Standing Ovation: Thomas Muller. There is a school of thought that Muller would eventually find his raumdeuter form and interpret and exploit the space that made him equal parts dangerous and unique in attack in his Bayern (and Germany) career. The fact that Muller is rounding into his space-interpreting best under Heynckes is a convenient and easy answer. The truth is, Muller at his best feeds on confidence, finding his way into and out of trouble and finishing off scoring chances with delicate chip-shot finishes. As a matter of fact, here is a recent one:

Meister of the Match: Jerome Boateng. Fearsome. Frightening. Full of confidence. It is easy to describe Boateng’s play in many ways, but this was a complete performance. Boateng scored his first goal in 75 games with a well-placed, powerful follow-up header to Sule’s effort off the crossbar in the 12th minute.

Boateng also got himself between a last-minute shot by Alexander Isak to help cement the win. It was the bookend to brilliant performance that Boateng seems poised to deliver with more consistency as he thrives under Jupp Heynckes as opposed to languishing in the purgatory between injuries and Carlo Ancelotti’s whims.