Bayern was destined to win no matter who claimed the victory in today’s Confederations Cup final between Germany and Chile, but it was the upstart German team around Joshua Kimmich and Sebastian Rudy that beat an experienced and dangerous Chilean side led heroically by Arturo Vidal.
The match lived up to expectations, as Germany weathered a barrage of attacks and pressing in the opening minutes of the match to score the only goal on a single lapse by Chile’s Marcelo Diaz.
The decisive moment occurred in the 20th minute: Diaz all too casually received the ball near the edge of the penalty box. Under pressure from Lars Stindl, he was caught at unawares by Timo Werner. Werner drew away goalkeeper Claudio Bravo and passed to Stindl, who merely had to tap the ball into the goal.
Each of Bayern’s players in the match - Kimmich, Rudy, and Vidal - were vital to their respective teams. Vidal tested Germany’s Marc-André Ter Stegen from range and created multiple chances for teammates. He battled ferociously in the midfield, and was one of the primary reasons why Germany struggled to maintain possession of the ball at all. On defense, Vidal also cleared away a dangerous ball in Chile’s penalty area early in the second half.
It was around then that Vidal clashed openly with teammate Joshua Kimmich, who briefly left the field after a foul in the 56th minute. Shortly after returning to the game, the hot-headed left-back provoked a confrontation with Claudio Bravo after Bravo brushed past him just beyond the goal line. Bravo responded by bumping heads with Kimmich. Words were exchanged and a tussle broke out between the two sides. Even Jogi Löw became involved, coming off the sidelines.
In the midst of the fray, Vidal gave Kimmich a sharp shove and accompanied by some choice remarks. Bravo, Vidal, and Kimmich all were shown the yellow card.
Tempers simmered on both sides and the game took an ugly turn that yet again exposed the ongoing flaws of VAR (video-assisted referee). Receiving a long pass that threatened to turn into a German attack, Timo Werner was roughly brought down by Gonzalo Jara. After initially calling a foul, the referee opted to have the play reviewed by VAR.
Although the cameras showed Jara deliberately elbowing Werner in the jaw - which should have resulted in a red card and his ejection - Jara received only a yellow card and play continued. Werner, who has been booed incessantly by German fans for his dive against Schalke this past season, was ironically perhaps too quick to get up.
Sebastian Rudy’s qualities were on display as the match wound down. He had had what should have been an assist to Leon Goretzka in the first half, but his defensive play was key in preserving the victory for Germany. He made a tremendous tackle on Alexis Sanchez in the 72nd minute to defuse a dangerous attack orchestrated by Vidal and Eduardo Vargas.
Kimmich in particular played well as the match came to a close. Fantastic passes by the right-back put Germany in a position to score twice - including a chance on a header that captain Julian Draxler just could not bring down. Bayern’s future center-back Niklas Süle entered the game in the dying minutes as a defensive replacement. Chile battled relentlessly, as a flurry of yellow cards were shown, but Germany held on for the victory.
The bragging rights for the Confederations Cup thus go to Kimmich - if he dares to use them back in Munich.