Despite a defensive lapse that has become all too common, Bayern Munich are returning to form. In their second win on the bounce, the Bavarian giants marched to the beat of the same drum for the second consecutive game. Under-fire manager Niko Kovac seems to have rallied the troops, and he can thank his young core for providing the spark on the night.
Jersey Swap: Max Kruse
Max Kruse not only provided the assist on Werder Bremen’s only goal of the match with a pinpoint cross to Yuya Osako, he also served as Bremen’s main creative source all night. He had a knack for making incisive passes that stretched the Bayern defense and had the Bavarian giants holding their breath. A solid all-around display for the German striker.
Tip of the Cap: Thomas Muller
This was almost a vintage performance from the Raumdeuter. The German international continued to find himself and his teammates in dangerous positions through intelligent movement and passing. His interchange with Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski gave the Bremen defense fits for most of the match. Four key passes and an assist on Gnabry’s second goal highlight just how effective Muller was with the ball at his feet, but two disappointing efforts earned from brilliant off-ball movement kept Muller from earning a nod for Meister of the match. With an expected goal tally of just under one for his performance, it is safe to say that he would like one of his opportunities back. Despite disappointing finishing, his creativity when he is on the top of his game is vital to the Rekordmeister’s attack.
Golf Clap: Kingsley Coman
Man, was it great to see Kingsley Coman back on the pitch. He probably did not expect to get such an extended cameo, but the young Frenchmen responded admirably coming off the bench cold for the injured Franck Ribery. The crafty winger looked like a man on a mission, taking on the Bremen defense and injecting a degree of pace that Niko Kovac’s side has missed so dearly. The attention he drew on the wing opened up the middle of the park, and allowed David Alaba to break free with dangerous overlapping runs. With a cross, a key pass, and 5 dribbles, Coman’s presence has the potential to resurrect a Bayern attack that has been bereft of ideas at some points throughout the campaign. The return of the king couldn’t have come sooner.
Standing Ovation: Serge Gnabry
After a relatively slow start to the campaign, the German winger is growing into his role as a primary creator for the Bavarian attack. The crafty attacker packed the stat sheet, putting up 2 goals, 4 dribbles and 1 key pass, his impact in the final third cannot be understated. Gnabry was employed in a more central role, constantly exchanging with Thomas Muller on the right. He was a main benefactor of the work put in by Ribery, Muller and Coman, which helped to put him into dangerous positions with time and space to operate. Although Gnabry may not be able to serve as the focal point of an attack, when Bayern play to his strengths he will make the opposition pay, something that was on full display against Bremen.
Meister of the Match: The Midfield Pivot
In sticking with the true definition of Meister, this award had to go to the midfield pairing of Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich. Although Goretzka was the less impressive performer on the night, his 88% pass accuracy, 3 long balls, 1 dribble, 1 interception and 1 tackle really don’t tell the story of the match for the 23-year-old midfielder. As someone who has been prone to poor positioning and a tendency to get caught out on the defensive end, the German international played his role in the double pivot perfectly, dropping between the two defenders and moving on a string with his German partner. His disciplined performance allowed Kimmich to create from the back and drive into the offensive end, while he also made a few strong runs into the opposition box and was unlucky to have a shot deflected from the top of the box. His stats are average, but his awareness and discipline were pivotal to Bayern’s attack and defense.
Joshua Kimmich put on an absolute masterclass in the midfield today. With 4 key passes (FOUR!), a 93% pass accuracy, 5 accurate crosses, 10 long passes and an assist that was not credited to him on Gnabry’s first goal. The German-international looked like the second coming of Xabi Alonso with the ball at his feet. Not to mention a solid defensive display, his pinpoint corner delivery and an effort with his weaker foot that went just wide. He truly pulled the strings in the center of the park and constantly found the Bayern attackers in dangerous positions with precision passes. The German defender may have just cemented himself as the spine of the German and Bavarian midfield. The future Bayern captain’s versatility is proving to be a key for a resurgence under Kovac, which continues to raise questions over his best position and Die Roten’s needs in the transfer market.