After a dominant first-half performance, defensive ineptitude, poor finishing, and deadly counter-attacking by Leverkusen may have cost Bayern Munich a chance at the title. While Borussia Dortmund dropped point against Eintracht Frankfurt, the Bavarian giants blew a major chance to close the gap.
Jersey Swap: Leon Bailey
Credit must be given to Peter Bosz and the Leverkusen attack. After enjoying early success in pressing Bayern, it seemed as though Bosz’s men were fading until a second-half blitz overwhelmed an abysmal defense. Leon Bailey spearheaded the charge, scoring a worldie of a free-kick and terrorizing the Die Roten defense all match. Kimmich and Rafinha struggled to keep up with the crafty Jamaican who continued to create chances and take men on. His tireless 83-minute performance was representative of the effort and quality of Leverkusen’s second half.
Tip of the Cap: James Rodriguez
It was great to see James Rodriguez inserted into the starting line-up after a long spell out injured. He served as the metronome of the Bavarian attack in the first half, consistently picking out passes and creating from an attacking midfield position. Two key passes and three dribbles on the night indicate just how involved he was. Unfortunately, a poor end product from his teammates proved costly.
Golf Cap: Kingsley Coman
Wow, this man is fast and is almost unguardable when he has the ball at his feet. It was an incredibly active display from the young Frenchman, with four dribbles and two key passes to go along with a couple solid efforts on goal.
The Leverkusen defense were bereft of ideas to contain the winger, but, unfortunately, he did not make them pay. Coman was dispossessed four times, in addition to a handful of poor crosses, leaving much to be desired in terms of end product. He really seems to struggle crossing with his left, and as Tom Adams said on the BFW twitter, he holds onto the ball a little too long. He is still shaking off the rust and his quality is undeniable at such a young age.
Just play your crosses earlier, Coman! #B04FCB— Bavarian Football Works (@BavarianFBWorks) February 2, 2019
Standing Ovation: Leon Goretzka
Goretzka continued his good run of form, adding another goal to his Bundesliga tally when he connected with a wonderful cross from Thomas Muller to finish off a perfectly timed run. The German-international put in a complete performance in a deeper role, with three interceptions, two accurate long balls, and a threw ball, but Kimmich’s poor performance in midfield hindered his ability to get forward. A blocked header late in the game could’ve provided the equalizer, but he continues to put himself in dangerous positions. The free-transfer has settled nicely.
Meister of the Match: Thomas Muller
Thomas Muller put on a vintage display, showing just why so many Bayern fans would like to see him and James Rodriguez start alongside one another. His relentless pressing and good hold-up play allowed Bayern to cope with the Leverkusen press early in the first half.
He always looked dangerous in possession, putting in a whopping four key passes, including his pinpoint cross for Die Roten’s one and only goal. Similarly to James, the poor end product of his teammates proved costly for Niko Kovac’s side and prevented him from racking up two or three assists. His movement with Robert Lewandowski and his Colombian midfield partner proved threatening, but nothing more than that, as the record champions look unlikely to add to their tally of Bundesliga titles.