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Five observations from Bayern Munich’s 4-0 thrashing of Atletico Madrid

Bayern Munich dispatch Simeone’s men with ease, showing that they’re ready to defend their title with all they’ve got.

FC Bayern Muenchen v Atletico Madrid: Group A - UEFA Champions League Photo by Sebastian Widmann - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Never question Hansi Flick

When Bayern Munich revealed their lineup for the game, many people were dumbfounded to see a 4-3-3. Corentin Tolisso joined Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka in midfield, while Thomas Müller was shifted to the wing. In addition, Alphonso Davies started on the bench for the second game in a row, even though plenty of analysts expected him to be a key asset to unlock Atletico Madrid’s defense.

As usual, Flick proved everyone wrong. After a slow start which saw the Spaniards get a couple of good attacks in, Bayern settled into a steady rhythm which they maintained for the rest of the match. The three-man midfield completely eliminated any advantage the Colchoneros may have had in the middle, allowing the Bavarians to dictate the tempo of the game with ease.

Once the midfield battle was won, the rest of the game practically became a formality. Bayern’s skillful attackers sliced through Simeone’s well-drilled defense, while the Spaniards struggled to get a sniff at goal (outside of a brief spell after half time). In some ways, it reminds me of what Pep Guardiola did back in 2016, where he benched Thomas Müller for Thiago Alcantara to try and take Atleti’s midfield out of the game. Hansi has now done one better, by keeping to the doctrine that “Müller always plays”.

With every piece of the puzzle working in tandem, Bayern smashed one of the best defenses in Europe — and without Robert Lewandowski having to score a goal.

Kingsley Coman continues his sublime Champions League form

After scoring the UCL winner against Paris Saint-Germain last season, Kingsley Coman continues to prove doubters wrong with yet another incredible performance on the biggest stage. Starting as the only true winger in the XI, you’d think that the Frenchman would struggle with extra attention focused on him. Coman, however, ran rings around the Atleti defense with his pace, finishing the game with two goals and one assist.

Check out our match awards for a more in-depth look at his performance. Before this season, many thought that Coman would be relegated to the bench once Sane arrived. Now, it seems that Bayern’s starting winger spot is up for grabs once again.

Bayern’s defenders have a 50-50 performance

While Bayern Munich managed to keep a clean sheet against Atlético, the defense wasn’t quite as airtight as the scoreline suggests. Niklas Süle and Lucas Hernández were sublime as usual, bullying Atletico’s attackers with their superior pace and physicality.

Luis Suárez will probably have nightmares of today, as he spent his entire game getting casually out-muscled by Bayern’s gentle giant. Meanwhile, Joao Felix and Marcos Llorente never stood a chance against the Bavarians’ record signing, as he made the left flank a no-go zone for Spaniards.

The same cannot be said of David Alaba and Benjamin Pavard, who weren’t quite as solid as their compatriots. Alaba had a mixed game, with a relatively solid defensive performance marred by the occasional error here and there. Pavard was also solid but not spectacular — he didn’t really provide much attacking threat down his flank, and was not as solid defensively as we’ve become used to in the past. These two players were key to Bayern’s treble last year, so let’s hope they get out of the slump they find themselves in.

Is Alphonso Davies in trouble?

FC Bayern Muenchen v Hertha BSC - Bundesliga
Alphonso Davies has now started two games in a row on the bench.
Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

Lucas Hernández completely shut down Atlético Madrid on his side of the field, and it’s his third great performance in as many games. Hansi Flick has nothing but praise for the Frenchman, which makes you wonder what’s going to happen to Alphonso Davies.

The Canadian was a key player in the treble winning campaign last season, with his pace feared by teams across Europe. He has now spent two games in a row on the bench. It’s really hard to know what’s going on with him, as Flick could easily move Lucas to the center-back spot next to Süle and bring Phonzie back in the XI. Does this mean the coach has changed his mind about the player? Is the defensive stability that Lucas provides considered more valuable than Davies’ incredible dynamism?

Phonzie’s situation will need to be monitored in the coming weeks. If he is indeed in Hansi’s doghouse, that would be a huge shame. The boy is so much fun to watch, every game he doesn’t play feels like a game wasted.

The UCL has no clear contenders so far

This is not an observation on the game, but rather the season so far. The Champions League doesn’t seem to have a clear favorite yet, or at least, no clear favorite outside of Bayern.

Barcelona and Manchester City are probably the teams that are doing the best at the moment, but they’ve had their fair share of trouble in their respective leagues. Real Madrid just suffered a shocking loss to Shakhtar Donetsk, while PSG fell to a mediocre Manchester United side. Chelsea leak goals like a sieve. Liverpool just lost Virgil van Dijk for the season. Meanwhile Juventus lack a clear playing style and philosophy under Andrea Pirlo (which could still change, to be fair).

Every big team seems to have its fair share of cracks, which makes this the most unpredictable Champions League in some time. Many will say that Bayern are favorites, especially after this performance against Atlético. But even we lost to Hoffenheim a few weeks back, and things change very quickly in football. This time last season, no one rated us as a contender. So it’s gonna be interesting to see who steps onto the pitch in the final next season — maybe the competition will surprise us.

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