Jersey Swap: Abdou Diallo. Diallo, as well as the rest of the rest of the left side of Mainz’s squad, undoubtedly benefitted from Bayern’s unorthodox lineup today. Joshua Kimmich’s absence was palpable in the first half, and Mainz did their best to take advantage. The surprisingly vital and exciting Mainz attack started with Diallo who was consistently pushing the ball forward and creating opportunities for a Mainz side desperate to stay up. By far the best player on the pitch for the home team.
Tip of the Cap: Corentin Tolisso. Matches are won and lost in the midfield, and Corentin Tolisso was the midfield MVP today. Playing on the right side of Bayern’s 4-3-3, he had a seemingly bottomless well of perfectly-timed crosses; it felt as if it was only a matter of time before one of those passes would produce a goal. He played very well with the ball at his feet all day and he was often the cog of Bayern’s counter-attack.
Golf Clap: Mats Hummels. Bayern’s back four faced a startlingly potent Mainz attack, and it was Mats Hummels who anchored a group that bent but did not break. Hummels was seemingly everywhere whenever the ball was in Bayern’s third. In the sixty-first minute he delivered one of the best tackles you will see this year, preventing the aforementioned Diallo from scoring on a set piece and prevented another goal in the eighty-third minute with a brilliant header.
Standing Ovation: Franck Ribery. Thirty-one minutes in and Bayern had no shots on goal. One minute later and Bayern had one shot on goal and one goal, thanks to none other than the human embodiment of class, Franck Ribery. It always warms the cockles of my heart to see King Franck in the starting lineup, and my cockles were burning after his opening goal. All day, Franck looked more like he was twenty-four than thirty-four. Ribery continues to age like a fine Bourdeaux, and as always he was a delight to watch.
Meister of the Match: James Rodriguez. Just eleven minutes after Ribery gave Bayern the lead, James Rodriguez made it two shots on target and two goals, and what a goal it was. A fantastic first touch and beautiful volley saw him one up Ribery. God, just watch it on repeat:
JAMES! The Colombian doubles Bayern's lead in Mainz just before halftime. What a goal. https://t.co/le3eCDzWBw— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) February 3, 2018
James delivered a perfectly-timed pass to Sandro Wagner minutes into the second half and would have had an assist to add to his score sheet had Wagner been able to finish, as well as a couple more goals if not for great saves from Robin Zentner. All day, James played as well as he has since his star-making turn in the 2014 World Cup.