Bayern Munich faced off against Bayer Leverkusen in their last match of the year. It was a game of high stakes and high intensities as the top two teams in the table fought tooth and nail for first position. Leverkusen game out of the gates blazing, almost overwhelming the current champions. It took Bayern almost a whole half to wake up and gear up for the challenge.
The second half seemed to be a completely different affair as Bayern matched the intensity and tenacity of Leverkusen. Sorely missing the duo of Goretzka and Kimmich in midfield, the visitors struggled but managed to step up in the 93rd minute to grab the win. It was a far from a perfect win by Bayern, but one that was deserved. Here are the match awards:
Jersey Swap: Patrick Schick
With the exception of Jonathan Tah and Leon Bailey — who is yet to be returned from Alphonso Davies’ pocket — all the other Leverkusen players had a great day on the pitch for most of the match. Schick gets the Jersey swap for his stunning volley that gave Leverkusen the early lead. The home side used the lead excellently for the entire first half — forcing Bayern to make bold, difficult passes that Leverkusen would interfere to counter attack and completely break up any sort of rhythm for Bayern.
Schick made life difficult for the Bayern defense, constantly making dangerous runs and could have been involved in another goal or two. Although Schick didn’t play a great role in the home side’s buildup with just 9 passes completed, his movements were crucial for the rest of the speedy Leverkusen attack to play off of. He will be disappointed his team didn’t take at least a point from Bayern.
Der Kaiser: Alphonso Davies
Still fresh from his injury return, Phonzie stepped up when Bayern really needed him to. With the likes of Moussa Diaby, Leon Bailey, Florian Wirtz, Bayern needed the raw speed and power of Alphonso Davies to own the wings if they were to not lose against the Werkself.
Making a total of six recoveries, the Canadian was vital in shutting down one of Leverkusen’s biggest threats, Leon Bailey. With help from Lucas Hernandez, Davies shut down their side of the pitch to the opposition. His seven duels won demonstrate his work rate today and it was essential for Bayern’s win.
Diaby’s cross in the second half was the only chance that slipped past the Canadian, who otherwise had a very decent day in the office. In attack too, he chimed in with three great crosses but none of them were capitalized on by his teammates. Solid stuff in a difficult game.
Fußballgott: Joshua Kimmich
The beast is finally back! It was great to see the 25-year-old return to the pitch after his knee injury in Der Klassiker against Borussia Dortmund. Almost a month ahead on his return schedule, Hansi Flick and co. couldn’t keep this monster out of action for too long.
This award is fairly obvious as Bayern didn’t have a midfield until Kimmich’s substitution. Making a near instantaneous impact, Kimmich took over leading the charge in the rear half of the team from Müller. His sheer will to pressure and win the ball from Jonathan Tah lead to the winner from Robert Lewandowski.
Corentin Tolisso has been failing to take these big game opportunities and stamp them with consistent performances.
David Alaba is far from being a DM of Bayern’s requirement — but, there were several instances in which Alaba showed good awareness that is needed for the DM position. Maybe more chances in the midfield will give David and us a better idea of how that move could work out or not.
Der Bomber: Robert Lewandowski
Lewandowski would have easily won the MOTM award if not for Thomas Müller filling in for three roles today. Lewy and Müller were undoubtedly Bayern’s standout performers today.
One of Lewy’s underrated qualities is his linkup play. The 32-year-old forward constantly read the team’s need for additional men to handle Leverkusen’s high pressure and dropped back often to help move the ball forward.
Jonathan Tah’s collision with his own goalkeeper in the final minutes of the first half gave Lewy room to score a free header and equalize. Another mistake by Tah would later lead to the second goal, as FIFA’s Best Footballer capitalized on his chance and scored the winner.
Meister of the Match: Thomas Müller
The vice-captain delivered a brutal and brilliant performance against a very intense Leverkusen side. The fact that Serge Gnabry and Corentin Tolisso were having such poor games and yet Bayern winning the game, showed how hard Müller was carrying Bayern today. His presence in midfield and the wings while also trying to open up spaces made up for the deficiencies in Bayern’s performance.
Creating four chances, making one interception and four ball recoveries, Müller was quite literally everywhere on the pitch today. He had even tracked back to right back a couple of times to help out in defense and holding Leverkusen to the single goal. His cross to assist Lewy in the final minutes of the first half boosted the team morale which helped the team to come out strong in the second half.
All in all, a leader’s performance from the Raumdeuter.