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Match awards for Bayern Munich’s frustrating 0-0 “win” against Sevilla FC

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Who deserves the most credit in this ugly battle against Sevilla FC? Defense.

MUNICH, GERMANY - APRIL 11: Rafinha of Bayern Muenchen grabs hold of Pablo Sarabia of Sevilla in the moments preceeding his injury during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg match between Bayern Muenchen and Sevilla FC at Allianz Arena on April 11, 2018 in Munich, Germany.
Rafinha lays it on the line for Bayern Munich, April 11, 2018.
Photo by Adam Pretty/Bongarts/Getty Images

It wasn’t pretty, but it’s pretty nice to advance. Bayern Munich collectively were far from their best in this match, playing to a scoreless draw despite what on paper looked like a very aggressive lineup. Who stood out amid the crowd of “meh”?

Jersey swap: Éver Banega. We missed Banega the first time around, and I’m not at all sorry that we did. He was arguably the best man out of both teams today, driving Sevilla’s offense forward and contributing four key passes and a game-high five dribbles. He might also have been on the receiving end five times as well, but that hardly mattered from Sevilla’s perspective. Their game was to play aggressively, get forward, and take their chances. It almost worked.

MUNICH, GERMANY - APRIL 11: Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Muenchen injured during UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg match between Bayern Muenchen and Sevilla FC at Allianz Arena on April 11, 2018 in Munich, Germany.
Robert Lewandowski is treated by team Dr. Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt.
Photo by Lukasz Laskowski/PressFocus/MB Media/Getty Images

Purple Heart: Robert Lewandowski. It was apparent from early in the game that a big part of Sevilla’s game plan was simply to take Robert Lewandowski out. He was fouled mercilessly throughout the game, until he finally had to make way for the ever robust Sandro Wagner, when it was clear that Bayern’s best bet was to play for a scoreless draw. He was fouled five times by my count and injured himself below his left while colliding with Gabriel Mercado in an aerial duel. Rest up, Lewy, and get healthy for the semis.

As for the other awards, with the exception of Rafinha, you can consider these rankings fairly equivalent. It was quite hard to decide who was better, when everyone seemed mediocre.

Golf Clap: Arjen Robben. Robben did his utmost to spark Bayern’s offense, but for all his effort, nothing seemed to go his way. Robben was a constant threat and lead the team in shots (5), but they were all unfortunately off target. Still, his chemistry with Joshua Kimmich and his astute play up front created chances for others where he could not capitalize on his own. Robben also contributed a total of 4 key passes (tied with Kimmich). It was just one of those days, though, as Sevilla managed to keep their heads and defend compactly.

Standing Ovation: Mats Hummels. Hummels was a rock in defense on a day when Bayern truly needed it. Hummels guarded Bayern’s rear and frequently pushed forward, even taking a shot himself. His positioning and reliability at the back helped maintain Bayern’s composure, even as Sevilla frequently tested it. Somehow along the way Hummels managed three dribbles (tied with Ribery), but what really was impressive were his team-high four clearances. Clearing danger in this overall defensive match was key. Hummels clearly could appreciate the bigger picture.

Meister of the Match: Rafinha

That’s right: Rafinha. It is safe to say that without Rafinha’s heroics, Bayern would have conceded, and then who knows what might have happened. But Rafinha is not the Meister for me because of his one danger-defusing tackle. Perhaps more than anyone, Rafinha came ready to play and push forward. At some point during the first half, I found myself chuckling at him as he jumped up and down waving his arms waiting for Jerome Boateng and then Mats Hummels to pass the ball to him so he could launch an attack.

MUNICH, GERMANY - APRIL 11: Rafinha of Bayern Muenchen holds his shoulder after injuring it during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg match between Bayern Muenchen and Sevilla FC at Allianz Arena on April 11, 2018 in Munich, Germany.
Rafinha, wounded in action, April 11, 2018.
Photo by Adam Pretty/Bongarts/Getty Images

That attitude translated into his defensive effort as well. And for the record: what natural right-back thrust into the role of backup left-back would have performed as well as Rafinha? With Juan Bernat out of form (possibly injured?), Jupp Heynckes had no alternative but to cast his lots with Bayern’s most underappreciated, but arguably most valuable bench player. Four decisive tackles later, including a game-saver that almost sidelined him with a frightening shoulder injury, and Rafinha rewarded that confidence with a decisive performance in the Champions League.

I have no idea whether he might accept a one-year deal to stay with Bayern next year, but if he leaves, Bayern Munich will be the less for it.