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Match awards for Bayern Munich’s bad 2:1 victory over Wolfsburg

A few understated performances kept this ugly effort by Bayern Munich from teetering out of control.

Wolfsburg's Belgian goalkeeper Koen Casteels (Up R) vies with Bayern Munich's Spanish midfielder Javi Martinez (Up L) during the German first division Bundesliga football match VfL Wolfsburg vs FC Bayern Munich at Volkswagen Arena on February 17, 2018 in Wolfsburg, Germany.
Koen Casteels vies with Javi Martinez.
Ronny Hartmann/AFP/Getty Images

Jersey Swap: Yunus Malli. Malli was lost at Wolfsburg until his former coach at Mainz, Martin Schmidt, was appointed. Since then, Malli has returned to the starting XI and found his form. Today, he gave his team an early 1:0 lead by providing an assist off a short corner-kick to Daniel Didavi, who had the good luck to be marked the diminutive Juan Bernat (who was also standing behind him) at the far post on a corner kick. Malli and Didavi had all of Wolfsburg’s three shots between them.

As a footnote, it’s worth noting how spectacular and spectacularly unlucky left-back Gian-Luca Itter was today. He successfully made 9 out of 10 tackles and generally made Arjen Robben look silly for most of the match. The only two times Robben got past him resulted in goals for Bayern.

Tip o’ the Cap: Thiago Alcantara. He's back. Thiago at last made his comeback and put in a solid hour of play, making a team-high 5 tackles from the midfield and doing his best to push forward his lethargic, confused teammates. Thiago made the difference between a frustrating match and utter chaos, as his fellow midfielders Corentin Tolisso and Sebastian Rudy struggled constantly to contribute meaningfully to the game.

Golf Clap: Thomas Müller. It defies all logic, but when Thomas Müller is on the pitch, goals happen. Within minutes of coming on in the second half, Müller fooled Wolfsburg's defense by looking over at midfield and then sending the ball up the sideline to Robben, who was able to find the extra inch of space he needed to find Wagner in the box. Müller breathed life into a team that looked as if it was cruising toward a 1:0 loss.

Standing Ovation: Sandro Wagner. Traditional strikers are team players, and for much of the match Wagner’s team—in particular, an anemic and overmatched Franck Ribery and Robben—gave him nothing to work with. But once real chances fell his way, Wagner proved his quality. He expertly put away the only decent cross that Robben managed to deliver to him.

Wagner’s excitement was palpable. He’s a team player prepared to do his job. With better service, he could have made this match less of the embarrassment it was.

Meister of the Match: Javi Martinez. Javi was the only player today who played competently for a full 90 minutes. It’s frightening to imagine what could have happened in the first half if he had played as poorly as the rest of the team. Fortunately for Bayern, Javi put in an outstanding 90 minute shift in his first game at center-back since the return of Jupp Heynckes, constantly intercepting Wolfsburg’s attempts to drive forward and clearing away danger.

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