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Five observations from Bayern Munich’s stunning 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen

The best player in the world got the ball over the line, letting Bayern Munich end the year with only a single defeat on record.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga for DFL Photo by Alexander Scheuber/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

Bayern Munich are the definition of “Mentalität Monsters”

There’s a lot going wrong at Bayern Munich at the moment. Injuries are piling up, fatigue is taking its toll, and the defense leaks goals like a sieve. However, in spite of that, this team just keeps getting results.

There’s an adamantine mentality in this squad. Guys like Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, Joshua Kimmich — it doesn’t matter if the chips are down, they’re always going for it. There’s just no concept of “settling” for anything. It’s almost baffling to watch. Bayern had no right getting as many points as they did from these last six or seven games. You just can’t do that when you concede early every single time. But this team just doesn’t let up. No matter if the clock’s ticking down, no matter if the opponent has possession — the players WILL find a way to make something happen.

Bayer Leverkusen probably don’t know what hit them today. They were cruising into halftime at 1-0 up when Lewandowski banged one in from a Muller assist. Then, in the second half, they were more than ready to settle for a draw when David Alaba forced a turnover on the edge of their box and Joshua Kimmich immediately pounced and threaded it through to Lewy, who got the equalizer. Both goals came well into stoppage time in each half. Both goals left the opponents sucker-punched.

Teams around Europe will watch this team with deep apprehension. Bayern Munich may be a perfect juggernaut, but you can never count these guys out.

Jamal Musiala is more special than we realize

Subbed in for Leroy Sane in the 68th minute, Jamal Musiala continues to show that’s he’s one of the best young talents in the world right now. The English youngster is blessed with a blend of speed, technical skill, and work rate that makes him at home on the pitch alongside World Cup winners and Champions League winners.

Musiala shows all the signs of being an amazing player in the future. His ability to hold the ball and find the correct pass under pressure is already on par with his peers. In fact, he’s arguably performing better than some of Bayern’s starters right now. When it comes to dribbling, he doesn’t just know how to dribble, he knows when to do it. He has the decision-making of a player at least five or six years ahead of him in development. The shot where he hit the post was so calmly taken, it would make most seasoned forwards blush.

Hasan “Brazzo” Salihamidžić and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge need to get this kid on a permanent contract ASAP. Bayern have someone special on their hands. Kudos to Chelsea for selling him to us for free. We’ll take good care of him.

Leroy Sane had a bad game, but it’s okay

Bayer 04 Leverkusen v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga
Leroy Sane was simply not good enough against Leverkusen, hence why he was subbed off early.
Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Speaking of Musiala, let’s talk about the guy who got subbed off for him. Leroy Sane’s ego probably took a beating tonight, as he was forced to come off despite being brought on as a substitute for the injured Kingsley Coman.

Honestly, you can’t fault Hansi Flick for his decision. Musiala was just better at everything compared to Sane. The former Manchester City man did not have his head in the game — he was out of sync and off-pace with his colleagues.

However, this does NOT mean that he is a flop, like some on the internet and the media like to claim. People need to remember that this is a tough team to get into, and Sane is at a difficult point in his career. He has all the pressure of being the “star signing” in attack, and he spent all of last season out injured with an ACL. He’s slowly learning the ropes. Things will look bad right now, but that hardly matters in the long run.

Look at Lucas Hernandez — he was labelled as a flop in his first season, and spent his time either injured or benched by David Alaba. Now, Lucas is one of Bayern’s best defenders. The simple fact is that players don’t always immediately click at a new club. Thiago Alcantara, Robert Lewandowski, Arturo Vidal, Serge Gnabry — the list goes on. All those players needed six months to a year to adjust to this team. Sane will have his chance, he just needs to keep at it.

Benjamin Pavard is officially in the doghouse, and Sule might keep him there

Bayern Munich’s right-back situation is quite dire at the moment. Both Benjamin Pavard and Buona Sarr have simply not been good enough, which has prompted Flick to move Niklas Sule to the flank for some stability.

The move worked out for the coach, as Sule was solid in his station. Despite being matched up against the electrifying pace of Moussa Diaby, the big German kept his cool and had the right flank on lockdown all game. He was also good going forward, pushing up at the right moments and helping get the ball up the pitch in the manner that Flick’s system demands.

In short, Sule was everything that Pavard hasn’t been this season. This new chain of events will worry the Frenchman, because it effectively means he’s lost his spot. In Sule, Hansi Flick has found someone who can do the job at right-back, Pavard will now need to work hard to get back on the starting XI. His ability to do so may determine his future at Bayern Munich.

2021 needs to be better

2020 was an amazing year for Bayern, and it certainly ended on a high note. But, with a short break coming up, Hansi Flick needs to start work to address the cracks that began to show in recent weeks. The defense needs to be tightened. The midfield needs an overhaul. Bayern need to reconfigure their press.

The team was clearly on a downward slide near the end of 2020, and it cannot be allowed to continue in 2021. For Bayern to win another Champions League title, the flaws must be addressed as soon as possible.

Miscellaneous observations

  • Jerome Boateng had a quietly good game at center back. Let’s hope Jogi Low was watching, especially since German NT player Jonathan Tah made an awful mistake leading to Lewandowski’s winner on the other end.
  • I didn’t mention Serge Gnabry in the main observations, but he was almost as bad as Sane. Guess this is what happens when he doesn’t get a London team as a pick-me-up. Shame that Arsenal aren’t in the Champions League this season.
  • Having someone like Alphonso Davies presents unique advantages for Bayern’s defense. Any player quick enough to get past him will never be able to control the ball at that pace, and the kind of long ball it takes to catch him out almost always sails into Neuer’s hands instead. Hitting the sweet spot between being able to match Davies’ speed AND not over-hitting the ball is insanely difficult. With Lucas Hernandez and Manuel Neuer cleaning up after him, it’s becomes almost impossible.
  • Corentin Tolisso is running out of time. He needs to start showing better performances or he’s gone in the summer.
  • What is going on with Marc Roca? Why doesn’t he get any chances? He can’t be that bad, can he?

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