Bayern Munich has entered the new decade with a few question marks lingering over them:
- How will the team compete in three different competitions with all the ongoing injuries?
- Will an inexperienced coach lead the team to any silverware this season?
- Should Bayern have acted differently last summer and should they spend big in this winter transfer window?
Nevertheless, after a month of winter rest, all questions were put on hold for 90 minutes and Bayern’s Bundesliga campaign was off again. The opposing coach: Jürgen Klinsmann, who managed Bayern for 10 months in the 2008/09 season and has now returned to German football. Joining Hertha on the 27th of November, Klinsmann has gotten off to a decent start, winning two games, drawing two, and now losing two — one against Dortmund and the other today.
Hertha played defensively and seemed satisfied to keep the game scoreless. Bayern, who seemed stale and lethargic in the first half, awoke in the second and was deserved winners. Here are BFW’s match awards from the game:
Jersey Swap: Dodi Lukebakio
Hertha had in total seven shots on goal, one on target. Their main attacking outlet in the game was the underrated 22-year-old Belgian — though Bayern fans will remember the hat-trick he scored for Fortuna Düsseldorf last season... Scoring four and assisting the same amount, Lukebakio has been one of the few impressive regulars for a Hertha side that has struggled this season. Today, Alphonso Davies did a good job canceling out the Belgian’s speed, but Lukebakio proved to be a nuisance throughout the first-half.
Tip of the cap: Manuel Neuer’s winner mentality
I could have given the tip of the cap to any Bayern player, because every player in the starting eleven had a solid game. However, the level of professionalism that Bayern’s number 1 has is simply incredible.
Jump back to the World Cup 2014, when Oscar scored Brazil’s consolation goal in the famous semi-final against Germany. The game had been over in a competitive sense for an hour when Oscar broke-through the German defense and finished off his run with a fantastic finish. Given that the score was 7-1, no German supporter cared and there was no chance of a comeback.
Manuel Neuer was furious. He wanted to keep a clean sheet.
That scene crossed my mind today when Hertha broke through against the run of play when the score was 4-0. Neuer, who had not been called upon for 85 minutes, made an incredible save with his right arm. The level of professionalism it takes for a goalkeeper to retain that focus, even when the game is won, is fascinating. Today Neuer got his clean sheet and deservedly so.
Golf clap: David Alaba
I’ve said before that the silver lining to Bayern’s injury-crisis is seeing the young Canadian Alphonso Davies exceed expectations with his fantastic performances as a left-back. Although David Alaba has had more experience at the center-back position than Davies had in the left-back, the Austrian should really be credited for all the great displays he has given in a position he is not entirely used too.
Bayern’s defense was solid throughout the entire game. The few times it was called upon, both Jerome Boateng and Alaba did superbly. Alaba’s speed serves as a great back-up whenever the high-line is exposed. Though Bayern was mostly in control today, Alaba’s center-back performances are yet another silver lining to Bayern’s injury crisis.
Standing ovation: Thiago
From a player that needed a good showing, Thiago’s performance was a joy to behold. You could tell how much his beautiful goal meant for the Spanish international, who ran directly to the traveling Bayern supporters.
Defensively, Thiago played well and made a couple of crucial interceptions in the first half. His passing and tball-technique were typical “trademark-Thiago” and his display today will have Bayern fans asking for more of the same.
Meister of the match: Ivan Perisic
Another player who needed a good game. Perisic was the only Bayern player in the front four who was consistently dangerous throughout the game. His crossing and ability to “uncomplicate” his game proved lethal in today’s win. Surprisingly good with his head and ability to get far up in the air, Perisic caused two goals today with his aerial ability. His header-pass to Thomas Muller broke the deadlock and forced Hertha to play a 4-4-2, which subsequently gave the Bayern midfield the space it needed in the final third.
Perisic is not the most skilled out of Bayern’s wingers, but he has the ability to create chances and today it paid off. He was bought as a depth player who could give positive performances in games like today, and it was pleasing to see make a major difference in Bayern’s great second half.
Man of the match:— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) January 19, 2020
84.8% pass accuracy
4 key passes
[Editor: All hail Ivan the Pretty Good!]