Disclaimer: Picking awards for Bayern players was VERY difficult. There were a bevvy of players deserving of an award.
Jersey Swap: Takefusa Kubo
Coming on as one of eleven halftime substitutions from Zinedine Zidane, Kubo was a real bright spot for Madrid in the second half, and there weren’t many others in the second half. The youngster was tidy in possession and displayed some exceptional close control on a handful of occasions to get out of tight situations when Bayern were closing him down in possession. He also had several dangerous balls that came close to unlocking Bayern’s back-line and create credible chances for either Vinicius Jr, Luka Jovic, or Rodrygo, who were playing in advanced positions. If anyone was going to make a difference for Real, it was Kubo, and they were lucky to have scored on a free kick that resulted from a very questionable red card call on Sven Ulreich.
Tip of the Cap: Corentin Tolisso
For this one, it’s tough to not just put the three-pronged pivot in midfield from the first half of Corentin Tolisso Thiago Alcantara, and Renato Sanches, but it was especially refreshing to see Tolisso have a solid performance, which was highlghted by his goal. He was a resourceful presence on both sides of the ball for Bayern and his understanding with both Thiago and Sanches was evident on the pitch. Tolisso knows when he’s able to roam forward and join in on the attack based on where Thiago and Sanches are and vice versa. That’s something that will be so effective for Bayern this season if/when Sanches starts in the midfield over Javi Martinez.
On his goal, which came in the 15th minute, he timed his run to perfection to meet David Alaba’s cross with his right foot and follow up to slot home the rebound after Thibaut Courtois had saved the initial effort.
Golf Clap: Benjamin Pavard
Pavard was one of the four halftime substitutions made and slotted into the right back position, sending Joshua Kimmich up to a defensive midfield role. The Frenchman’s athleticism was on full display down the right channel, making a handful of recovery runs tho cut of developing attacks from Madrid. One of his best moments came midway through the second half when he sprinted back to get in front of Vincinius Jr., who had beaten the rest of Bayern’s back line with a clever forward run. Pavard timed his sliding tackle to perfection and proceeded to get up quickly and distribute the ball forward. He almost provided a fine assist to Sarpeet Singh as well, but Singh put the effort just wide of the near post. All in all, it was a solid performance from Pavard and he defended far better than he did against Arsenal.
Standing Ovation: Renato Sanches
It was a breathe of fresh air to see Renato Sanches have a good performance. He showed all of the tools in his locker in this match. He showed great strength, didn’t concede possession cheaply, and his decision making seemed to be far better than it normally is. His confidence just seemed to be there, which is something that he’s usually struggled with. He was taking players on, tracking back defensively, muscling players off the ball, and making wise decisions with his passing. One of his best moments of the match was captured during our “Live Tweet” of the match where he out-muscled Luka Modric, spun off of him, and continued on his forward run before playing it off to one of his teammates. It was a massive FLEX moment (pun intended).
You could hardly doubt his passion and intensity, too, as it was on display when he got into it a bit with Dani Carvajal after feeling that the Spaniard had taken him down inside the box.
Meister of the Match: Manuel Neuer
Plain and simple, Neuer made a handful of key saves in the first half to keep Madrid off of the scoresheet. The result could’ve been far different had he not made said saves. He made a questionable decision early on, when he tried to chip a pressing Karim Benzema and wound up kicking the ball out for a corner kick, but he vindicated himself by making so many crucial saves throughout the first 45 minutes. It was what we like to call “vintage Neuer” with the quality of saves he was making; not only getting in front of the shots, but punching them clear from danger as well. One of his best saves came shortly before halftime when he kept out a venomous shot from the top of the left corner of the box from Eden Hazard. A well deserved “Meister of the Match” performance from Neuer.