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BFW Roundtable: A look back at the 2018/2019 Hinrunde

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We look at some of the best, worst, and funniest moments from the first half of Bayern Munich’s season.

FC Bayern Muenchen v SL Benfica - UEFA Champions League Group E Photo by Alex Hassenstein/Getty Images

Bayern Munich certainly had their fair share of ups and downs during the first half of the season, but thankfully they ended on a high note, having won five of their six matches across all competitions in December. As the season has now reached the halfway point, and the Bundesliga enters its winter break period, we wanted to take a look back at the some of the best and worst moments for Bayern during the hinrunde.

MVP of the Hinrunde

Chuck Smith: Robert Lewandowski. With 22 goals and five assists across all competitions Lewandowski has exhibited the exact kind of form that Bayern needs from its star striker. You could make strong cases for Joshua Kimmich, Thiago Alcantara, and Thomas Muller when it comes to how valuable each player is to the team’s output, but Lewandowski is an unmitigated threat to each and every opponent that Bayern faces.

John Dillon: Joshua Kimmich. Yes, Lewandowski has an astounding number of goals, but I think Kimmich has been even more important to Bayern Munich this season. He has played the most minutes on the team after Manuel Neuer (Neuer: 2340; Kimmich: 2271; Lewy: 2125), but both as a right-back and crucially as an attacking midfielder, when Niko Kovac had no other options while Thiago, James Rodriguez, Corentin Tolisso all were injured, while Leon Goretzka played rather as Kimmich’s defensive counterpart and Sanches is just too raw. And in the Bundesliga, Kimmich is Bayern’s second-best scorer (11th overall, tied with Augsburg’s striker) Alfred Finnbogason) with 9 assists and a goal. That versatility and production make him the most valuable man on the pitch.

Schnitzel01: For me, MVP is hands down Robert Lewandowski. Even when the Hinrunde came with a plethora of obstacles and setbacks, he never failed to contribute. He works himself off day in, day out and has directly contributed to 47% of Bayern’s goals. Moreover, he looks really happy on the pitch and that’s a bonus.

MUNICH, GERMANY - DECEMBER 08: Robert Lewandowski of Bayer Munich celebrates after scoring his tam's first goal during the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Muenchen and 1. FC Nuernberg at Allianz Arena on December 8, 2018 in Munich, Germany.
King Lewy
(Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Best moment of the Hinrunde

Chuck Smith: The English Week wins over Hannover 96, RB Leipzig, and Eintracht Frankfurt. With the first half of the season marked by peaks and valleys, it was great to see the first half end on such a high note. Hannover is a pest of a team that can muck up a game for anyone, while Leipzig and Frankfurt are two of the best teams the Bundesliga has to offer. For Bayern to be able to close out the first half with three consecutive wins after some of the struggles it had faced in October and November was huge. The team was able to battle through injuries and show that it had officially settled in under Kovac, embracing the double pivot alignment and looked ready to make a serious run at Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, along with presenting a true heavyweight challenge to Liverpool in the Champions League.

John Dillon: Renato Sanches’s incredible Champions League start against his home club SL Benfica was spectacular. Kovac made a gutsy move in starting the youngster in this important Champions League start, and Sanches rewarded his coach’s confidence with a Meister of the match-worthy performance, capped off by an important goal in the second half. The home fans stood and applauded their son for scoring against them. Bayern’s players had never seen anything like it, and I certainly had not either.

Schnitzel01: The players and management coming out to show their solidarity and their support for Kovac in what was a tough spell. This ‘mia san mia’ is what really defines us. This was a close one, since another great moment was BOTH Thiago and Coman coming back from injury in the same game, but since I don’t want to jinx them, I’ll go with the former.

How good has Sanches been this season under Niko Kovac?
Getty Images

Worst moment of the Hinrunde

Chuck Smith: The trash fest in Berlin. The loss to Hertha Berlin was bad for a lot of reasons, but mostly because it showed that there were a lot of things wrong with the team and how it was adapting to Niko Kovac. Everyone knew there would be an adjustment period, but prior to that point there was nothing that looked seriously alarming. Against Die Alte Dame, however, Bayern looked confused and hapless. Worse, Kovac looked confounded and grasping for answers. The poor performance laid the groundwork for the horrid run of play we would see later in the Fall.

John Dillon: Bayern’s disastrous performance against Fortuna Düsseldorf — throwing away a 2:0 lead and ending with a 3:3 draw against a team that should be back in the 2nd Liga next season — led the front office to call an emergency meeting with some of the most senior players on the team. Bayern had put in a spirited performance in a 3:2 loss away to Dortmund and had beaten AEK Athens 2:0 two weeks earlier, but the result completely took the wind out of their sails and called into question the team and, critically, the coach yet again. Things fortunately turned around, but at the time, it looked like Bayern was about to implode.

Off the pitch, the front office’s ill-advised (anti-)press conference is easily the winner.

Schnitzel01: [Corentin] Tolisso’s season ending injury. This season really could’ve been a defining one for Tolisso fresh after winning the world cup. Quite unfortunate that he had to get an ACL tear on his debut match, where he even scored a goal. Hope he has a swift recovery. We could really do with some Tolisso long rangers.


Funniest moment of the hinrunde

Chuck Smith: Mustache time. Joshua Kimmich, Serge Gnabry, and Mats Hummels all took their facial hair very seriously and it has provided a constant chuckle any time there is a closeup. I always like to relate the squad’s mustache game to an 80s Buddy Cop flick with Kimmich and Gnabry playing the roles wild and reckless rookie cops trying to find their way to solve a complex case with Hummels as the grizzled veteran Sargent trying to lead them down the right path.

John Dillon: I make no secret of the fact that I’m a big fan of Rafinha. This guy, who’d be a starter at any number of great clubs, has spent his prime at Bayern as the backup to two world-class right-backs, Philipp Lahm and Joshua Kimmich. His spectacular goal against Eintracht Frankfurt and hilarious dancing celebration at the very end of the Hinrunde simply cracked me up. I can’t think of anything else that made me laugh out loud like that did.

Schnitzel01: Is there anything funnier that Thomas Mueller pulling out a karate kick for a first time knockout in a UCL game? It became a meme sensation on the internet and even trended on twitter for a day or two.

Yay or nay on Kimmich’s ‘stache? ‘Twas a CLOSE battle!