Bayern put in a competent performance to secure an away victory over Sevilla in the Champions League quarterfinals. Having had the bulk of possession and serious goal threats, Bayern naturally have a good deal of optimism leading into the second leg.
Jersey swap: Pablo Sarabia. Sevilla could count themselves lucky to be present in their first Champions League quarterfinals since 1958. Sarabia’s 32nd minute goal lifted the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán fateful and, at least for the next few minutes of the game, had the team dreaming of entering the history books. The game changed, but Sarabia showed that he can be depended on in midfield and that many top teams would be lucky to benefit from his services.
Tip of the hat: Rafinha. Not a game changer per se, but the Brazilian native’s entry in the second half helped create avenues for Franck Ribery and galvanized Bayern’s offense. The need to bring Rafinha, however, raises some questions about Juan Bernat’s ability to handle his duties in such important games. Bernat was guilty of losing his man before Sevilla’s goal before he was replaced by the backup right-back after the first half.
Golf clap: Javi Martinez. Always dependable whether leading in front of the defense or creating chances at the other end, Javi Martinez proved once more to be a vital part of Bayern’s game, making a spectacular last-man clearance to prevent Sevilla from scoring. His achievements may not always be as newsworthy as some of those of his colleagues, but he remains a trusty member of the squad.
Standing ovation: Franck Ribery. His speed and technique caused havoc on the flank. If Bayern are still considering the Frenchman’s future with the club, tonight’s performance should serve as a reminder to his importance. Ribery caused the first goal of the night, causing an own-goal off a deflection by Jesus Navas. After that, the game tilted in the Germans’ favor, and Ribery remained hot until he made way for Robben late in the match.
Meister of the match: Thiago Alcantara. It’s difficult to choose the player of the match in a game in which the winners did just enough to cruise to victory. Still, Thiago would be the most obvious choice, scoring the game winner and putting his exceptional skill to good use. Thiago recorded a team-high 5 dribbles (tied with Sevilla’s dynamic Joachín Correa) while somehow also maintaining 92% pass accuracy—surpassed only by Arturo Vidal (95%) and Joshua Kimmich (93%). Here is a player Bayern needs to be at his best if they are to achieve the success they so desperately want this season.
Bayern aren’t through yet. Sevilla has proven to have enough class and experience to give any European team a run for their money. However, the second leg played on German soil should catch Bayern at their best, looking to win and preparing for the momentous task that should await them in the semi-finals.