Jersey Swap: Michael Esser
Another Bundesliga matchday and another opposition goalkeeper making life difficult for Bayern Munich. Although full credit must be given to Esser for his 11 saves, Bayern yet again lacked a clinical touch in front of goal. The Hannover keeper held the Bavarian giants at bay for large portions of the match keeping his side within striking distance. It was especially impressive considering just how poor the defensive organization of Hannover was throughout. The record champions underperformed their expected goals tally by almost 2.5 goals. Bayern have a finishing and an opposition ‘keeper problem.
Tip of the Cap: Leon Goretzka
The German midfielder did not put in his most dynamic display as a part of Die Roten’s midfield pivot, but his attacking contribution was key to putting away Thomas Doll’s men. The German midfielder played in a much more advanced role alongside Thomas Muller due to Bayern’s dominance in possession. His activity in and around the box created scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates. Both Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski drew attention away from the former Schalke-man, which allowed him to flourish. He finished off his chance brilliantly and could have bagged a couple more goals. Although his finishing left a lot to be desired this afternoon, he was a key cog in the attack, scoring the match-winner.
Golf Clap: Kingsley Coman
Kinglsey Coman was perhaps the most impressive player of the front-four throughout the match. The French winger seemed the most up for it and he is really coming into his own following extended absences due to injury. Six dribbles, three key passes, and two assists highlight just how impactful the 22-year-old was. He really has everything an elite winger needs. He took on defenders with the ball at his feet, provided quality service, and demanded the attention of the defense throughout the match.
Standing Ovation: Thiago Alcantara
Thiago’s elegance on the ball continues to go unmatched. Bayern’s Spanish midfield maestro dominated the match from deep in the midfield with his distribution, defense awareness and willingness to carve up the defense while charging forward. The Spaniard contributed three key passes, two dribbles, a tackle, and two interceptions, but his ability to set the tempo of an attack that looked like it just might stall at various points in the match was key. The midfield metronome was just that with a 94% pass accuracy on 110 (!!) passes, two accurate crosses, and seven accurate long balls. He refused to allow his side to let off the gas and his presence continues to be vital to Bayern on both ends of the pitch. He might just be the player of the season for Niko Kovac’s side.
Meister of the Match: Joshua Kimmich
Joshua Kimmich is the best right back in the world and it isn’t particularly close. The German international only walked away with a single assist, but he easily could have bagged three or four if his teammates capitalized on his excellent service. The 24-year-old contributed nine key passes, which is absurd even by his standards, five accurate crosses and three accurate long balls. Thanks to Bayern’s dominance in possession, Kimmich played both out wide and centrally in more of a midfield role. His versatility in possession and tireless work rate created opportunities moving forward. It is not often that a right back is the most creative force in the side, but Kimmich has continued to dominate matches as a full-back. Let’s not ignore his solid defensive contribution of two tackles, a clearance, and an interception. He has really grown as a defender throughout the campaign, upping his stock as one of the world’s top players.
Honorable Mention(s): Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery
In a sloppy affair, 36-year-old Franck Ribery grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and finished off the match. His cooly taken goal calmed the nerves of Bayern fans and proved that he can still get the job done.
Oh, was it nice to see Arjen Robben back on the pitch, or what? As the illustrious careers of Robben and Ribery draw to a close, it has been heart-breaking to see the Dutchman sidelined by mysterious injuries. Seeing Robbery contribute to a double on their way out is the perfect way to send off two legends of the game.