Now that a significant portion of the Bayern Munich contingent has been dismissed from the World Cup, it seems like an appropriate time to take a close look at how some Bayern players — and team Germany footballers as well — helped or hurt their own personal stock at the World Cup.
For this purpose, we’ll use an simple rating scheme of “winners” and “losers” to various degrees.
Bayern Munich players
Robert Lewandowski (Poland): HUGE LOSER
This was it. Lewandowski finally had the chance to show the world (you know, that vast place outside of Germany) exactly what the RL9 brand was all about: high performance and lots of goals. Instead, he was shut out and blamed his teammates. If Lewandowski hoped to show the Real Madrids and Manchester Uniteds of the world exactly what they were missing, he left them yearning for more Harry Kane.
Joshua Kimmich: LOSER
It’s not that Kimmich didn’t showcase his skills, it’s just that he did so to the detriment of his team. Kimmich was one of the players who was expected to show the world his talent at his first World Cup. But Kimmich just did not play to his full potential. He looked scarily one-dimensional for long stretches of time, which will be something to monitor moving forward. For now, he remains the Bundesliga’s best kept secret.
Niklas Süle: WINNER
Süle was arguably Bayern’s top performer for Germany. Joachim Löw only went to Süle after Jerome Boateng was forced to miss the South Korea game (two yellow cards vs. Sweden), and Antonio Rudiger had proven to be a shaky replacement for Mats Hummels (neck injury) against Sweden. Süle might have been Germany’s best purely defensive center back (at least in the group stage) and made the most of his opportunity.
Jerome Boateng: BIG LOSER
Boateng looked like a shell of his former self and has neither the consistency, precision, or make-up speed he once had. His shocking performance againts Sweden, culminating in a yellow-red sending off drew ridicule from soccer critics. Currently seeking employment elsewhere this summer, Boateng did almost everything one could imagine to tank his transfer value.
Sebastian Rudy: WINNER
Like Süle, it is possible that Rudy actually benefited from his lack of playing time. He got the start against Sweden and played 30 spirited minutes before his nose was broken. And still Rudy was champing at the bit to keep playing. At the very minimum, he got the chance to show Niko Kovač and any other interested coach that he can man the pivot effectively.
Manuel Neuer: LOSER
This one hurts. Neuer did not look as quick laterally after returning from a devastating foot injury. He looked . . . slow and awkward at times. Perhaps rushing back before he was 100% was not the right call, especially with the immensely talented Marc-André ter Stegen sitting on the bench.
Thomas Müller: LOSER
People will definitely put an onus on Müller for not scoring, but will also overlook the fact that Löw chose to keep the Bavarian on the wing rather than move him inside to help create offense. In the end Müller will be faulted for his lack of goals, despite not really playing that poorly. Such is the life of the man who was the largely the face of one of Germany’s most successful periods of time.
Mats Hummels: LOSER
Hummels has had a propensity for being the guy closest to the player who scores against his team (unfortunately for both Bayern and Germany). It’s not that Hummels was bad (genuinely he wasn’t), but having to cover so much for the lack of defensive help against Mexico and with his ill-timed neck injury preventing from playing against Sweden. The steady central defender was just limited in his ability to show his true class. Not to mention all the headers he missed against South Korea.
Leon Goretzka: NOT RATED
Goretzka was inexplicably kept on the bench for most of the tournament despite being precisely the type of player that Germany needed. When he did play, Löw put him on the wing (?!?) as if Germany were playing some sort friendly against Trinidad and Tobago (no offense).
Other Germany players
Timo Werner: LOSER
This was supposed to be Werner’s breakout. Instead, like Lewandowski, he was shut out just as he was on the cusp of becoming a big-time transfer target. Werner did some excellent things and proved he can be a force on the wing, but ultimately he will be measured for his goose egg on the score sheet. He is still a prodigious talent, but he needs to move to a big club this summer or have a gargantuan season for RB Leipzig to prove he can make plays against top competition.
Marco Reus: WINNER
Reus was dynamic and creative for Germany and played physically enough to shed his label as a “Mr. Glass” type of player. If I was a big club that needed an energetic offensive presence, he would certainly be on my shortlist (though it would be doubtful he leaves Borussia Dortmund). It’s a shame that Reus’s chance to play in the World Cup at long last for Germany was wasted.
Mesut Özil: LOSER
Every claim that Özil was an emotion-less talent that lacked proper urgency was justified by his play from the friendlies through the three group stage games. His skills are phenomenal, but he lacks the necessary passion and verve to make people believe he’s really invested. It’s not that he’s lazy; it’s that (it appears) he just doesn’t care.
Julian Brandt: WINNER:
Brandt played with more ferocity and also with a more vibrant attacking mentality for Germany than he seemingly did for Bayer Leverkusen this past season. Brandt truly is one of Germany’s rising stars and did just enough to solidify his position as a roster mainstay moving forward.
Toni Kroos: WINNER
It was not the banner effort that Germany needed over the course of three games from Kroos, but everyone will remember that extra time goal against Sweden. Kroos’ reputation will not suffer despite the team’s failure.
Julian Draxler: LOSER
Draxler had a fair amount of detractors heading into the tournament, and he did nothing to help change their minds. He is a skilled and versatile player, but could not make enough of an impact to give anyone an overall positive feeling about his play.
Sami Khedira: LOSER.
It’s going to be a long time before anyone can explain what types of pictures that Khedira has of Löw.
Leroy Sane and Sandro Wagner: WINNERS
No guilt by association for these two. While Germany’s left wing was covered well enough between Marco Reus and Timo Werner, we will forever wonder whether Sandro Wagner might have scored on one of the many chances that Mario Gomez headed into the keeper’s hands or off target.
When Sandro tells me he's the best German striker just kidding bro pic.twitter.com/XW1GVxkaDt— Jerome Boateng (@JB17Official) April 6, 2018
Wagner had just as many goals from his couch as Werner and Gomez did.