After so many weak and unconvincing performances for Bayern, it was absolutely crucial that Niko Kovac find a way to pick up valuable points against Freiburg. Throughout the first ten minutes, it seemed likely that the record champions would easily win and even cut into that goal differential deficit to Borussia Dortmund. However, as the game went on, it became evident that Freiburg would not go down easily. They deserved the point, and here are some players deserving of match awards:
Jersey Swap: Lucas Höler
After keeping Bayern at bay for over an hour, Christian Streich decided that it was time for his team to finally take some risks and string together some attacking sequences. It wasn’t until the 89th minute that his decision payed off. Christian Günter got forward, played in an excellent ball, and Höler was there to put it past Manuel Neuer. To put that attack into perspective, that was Freiburg’s only shot on target for the entire game.
Tip of the Cap: Serge Gnabry
The main takeaway from this game was that Gnabry was able to grab his first goal as a Bayern player. He was very energetic every time he was on the ball. The problem was that, more often than not, that energy worked against him and he lost the ball. If only some of the many corners he drew led to goals, he might have received a standing ovation (and Bayern would have won).
Golf Clap: Renato Sanches
Leaving players like Goretzka and Müller on the bench, Kovac showed a large amount of faith in the Portuguese international today. Sanches had some promising attacking runs, but was largely contained by the Freiburg defense. It was definitely difficult, especially when Freiburg was stacking eleven men behind the ball at all times, with five or six in the box. Sanches is definitely more effective in games that are a little more opened up, so when Bayern plays opponents more like Dortmund and Champions League opponents, expect large contributions from the 21-year-old.
Standing Ovation: Joshua Kimmich
With Thiago out due to injury, Kovac turned to Kimmich to fill the vacant number 6 position. Kimmich hadn’t played there for Bayern since the 2016/17 campaign, but he more than held his own this game. A big issue was whether or not Thiago’s replacement could remain disciplined and stay back in position. Throughout the vast majority of this match, he did what was expected of him. He may not have supplied Thiago’s unmatched quality on the ball and in its distribution, but for right now, the usual right-back is a viable option for Kovac.
Meister of the Match: Niklas Süle
It’s important to note that besides the one shot on target (which was also the one goal for Freiburg) allowed by Bayern’s defense, it was otherwise a strong and dominant game for Süle. Earlier in the match he was strong while challenging the opposition in possession, and was able to retain possession when he had the ball. Despite the draw, he looked great and continued his great run of form, which is important when the other center backs on the team are constantly injured or unavailable, namely Jerome Boateng.