Bayern Munich Respond
I don’t think any rational human being would argue that Mainz even attempted to play football today. It appeared as though Sandro Schwarz set up his side to sit back and hit on the counter, but what was supposed to be an organized defense, was not.
That being said, Bayern Munich took advantage of Mainz’s defense frailty in a relentless attacking display, in which the center backs even tried their luck in the final third. Twenty-two shots and six goals got the Bavarian giants back on the front foot, following an abysmal attacking display against Liverpool. Although this season has been defined as a transitional one, those players that are on their way out have something to prove, that much was clear today.
Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Muller are key
Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Muller reminded everyone why they were so missed in the second leg against Liverpool. Although it wasn’t the sharpest display for the Raumdeuter, his movement and energetic pressing helped to unlock James in a way due to the effective interplay between the two. Two key passes, an assist and three successful tackles are representative of a solid display from the German, who has reasserted himself as one of Bayern’s most creative attacking options.
Joshua Kimmich put in an equally energetic shift, patrolling the right flank, making incisive passes and overloading the Mainz defense out wide. With 2 key passes, 2 dribbles, 2 accurate crosses, and 4 long balls, it is absolutely shocking that the German right back (or midfielder, if you’re Jogi Low) did not tally a single assist.
The importance of this pair to the Bavarian attack cannot be overstated. Another year of “what ifs” as Bayern are eliminated from the Champions League.
Another wasteful display (yeah, I know they scored 6)
Despite an impressive final goal tally, clinicality remains an issue for Die Roten—outside of James Rodriguez, of course. The Colombian international put in an efficient display, netting a hat-trick in only 6 shots. The Bayern playmaker’s only misses were shots from distance that challenged the opposition goalkeeper. Whether James is in a Bayern Munich jersey next campaign remains to be seen, but this was arguably his best performance in the red and white.
Unfortunately, Rodriguez’s finishing didn’t quite rub off on his teammates. Following Robert Lewandowski’s gorgeous finish to kick off the scoring, his form in front of goal left a lot to be desired. The Polish hitman put two sitters right in to Florian Muller, one of which fell to the feet of Alphonso Davies who side-footed it home.
ALPHONSO DAVIES!!!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) March 17, 2019
The 18 year-old Canadian scores his first goal for Bayern and becomes the youngest scorer for Bayern since Roque Santa Cruz in 1999 pic.twitter.com/54AC6Jg5Sr
In addition to poor finishing from Lewy, Bayern relied on quite a few attempts from distance and failed to play an accurate final ball on a few occasions. When a team sits deep it is easy to rely on quantity over quality, but this can breed bad habits against tougher opposition (i.e. Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool). The Bavarian giants need to focus on precision and accuracy in preparation for a run of big matches that will decide the title and the DFB Pokal.
It’s time to play the youngsters
Alphonso Davies put on a show of versatility and youthful verve in his 35 minute cameo—featuring as a left back and right winger. The young Canadian international finally looked at home in the Bundesliga, taking on defenders, getting in behind and keeping pace with a fast-paced passing style. One goal, one dribble, one tackle, one interception and a perfect passing rate make for an impressive display as the 18-year-old grows into his role as one of the top prospects in world football. Oh yeah, he is also the first Bayern player born this century to score a goal and the youngest Bayern scorer since Roque Santa Cruz in 1999. Not too shabby.
Alphonso Davies!— DW Sports (@dw_sports) March 17, 2019
✅ First ever goal for Bayern Munich
✅ First ever Canadian goalscorer for Bayern
✅ Youngest Bayern goalscorer (18) in 20 years
✅ First Canadian goalscorer in the Bundesliga since 2013 (Marcel de Jong)
@AlphonsoDavies #FCBM05 pic.twitter.com/TqjL5hVluk
Unfortunately, Niko Kovac did not opt to utilize Renato Sanches or Lars Lukas Mai off the substitutes bench, while also leaving Woo-yeong Jeong out of the squad altogether. Yes, Bayern are in the midst of an historically close title race, but it is time to see what these young players can do. If we cannot trust Sanches in major matches down the stretch, there is absolutely zero reason to keep him on the books. If Kovac and Co. are unwilling to see what these young prospects can provide in the Bundesliga and DFB Pokal, it will be impossible to transition to a future without the core from 2013. It’s time to lay the foundation for the future. It’s time to play the kids.
It all comes down to Dortmund
The Bavarian giants extended their lead atop the table only in terms of goal differential. A last-ditch victory for Borussia Dortmund on Saturday keeps the two Bundesliga titans tied on points with a pivotal clash looming on Matchday 28. With both sides returning to form, a victory (or defeat) in the head-to-head match-up will likely decide who brings home the Meisterschale.
MIA SAN MIA!