Jersey Swap: Leopold Zingerle
The Bayern academy graduate was easily Paderborn’s best player today, making a number of wonderful saves that would have tipped the game in Bayern’s favor otherwise. His point-blank stop to deny a rare Bayern corner goal and his one-on-one save against Robert Lewandowski (albeit off his weak foot) were just two jewels in a performance that brought Bayern to the brink and might have made them pay with a bit of luck. Zingerle also performed a bit of sweeper-keeping against Kingsley Coman late in the second half, something that his counterpart in the Bayern goal failed miserably in. Zingerle played more like Manuel Neuer than Neuer himself did today, dare I say.
Bonus: A shoutout to Paderborn as a team today: they were absolutely magnificent.
Tip of the Cap: Alphonso Davies
The Canadian youngster put in another great performance and justified time and again why he is Bayern’s current starting left-back. His lightning-fast runs were the main reason why Paderborn’s fast counterattacks were nullified today. If you take a look at Dortmund’s 3-3 draw with Paderborn a few months ago, their goals were mainly the result of slow backtracking by BVB’s defense. Although Bayern’s defense was far from perfect today, they were quick to close down Paderborn’s counterattacks when necessary, and Davies was at the forefront of that. You could not ask for a better left-back in the Bundesliga at this moment, if we indeed consider David Alaba a full-time center back now.
Golf Clap: Joshua Kimmich
Kimmich was everywhere today, literally. He started the game in central defense alongside Alaba, and helped anchoring the midfield trident defensively going forward. He made a few great clearances that stopped Paderborn from countering and was also in charge of the heavy midfield press that led to Bayern’s plethora of chances in front of goal. Once Alvaro Odriozola was subbed off, he switched to right-back for the first time in quite a while and delivered a performance that reminded so many fans why they want to see him back in that position. With quick attacking runs and good backtracking, Kimmich delivered on all points that his Spanish predecessor sadly did not. A good game in both defense and midfield — can’t ask for much more.
Standing Ovation: Serge Gnabry
Bayern’s only recognized winger in the starting lineup was one of the few bright spots in attack in an otherwise rather mellow first half. Gnabry scored Bayern’s opener in the middle of a sea of defenders, poking home an accurate finish into the far corner. In the second half, he paraded down Paderborn’s left flank and delivered two brilliant assists for Lewandowski to score. He may seem to be having a slightly off season according to some, but Gnabry thus raised his goal tally this season to ten in the Bundesliga, not to mention eight assists, with five more goals in the DFB-Pokal and the Champions League. Fingers crossed that he can boost his tally even more against Chelsea this coming Tuesday.
Meister of the Match: Robert Lewandowski
Was there any doubt? Bayern’s star striker made sure his team took maximum points today with two well-taken finishes at crucial points in the second half. The Pole has now scored a whopping 25 goals in 22 league games, three more than his tally in the league for all last season. But it was not just his two goals that earned him the MOTM award. Lewandowski covered the entire final third, be it the flanks or the middle, and opened up chances for his teammates as well. Now this may just be because the left flank was not functioning properly (cough cough Philippe Coutinho), but Lewandowski’s work rate has grown significantly over the past couple of seasons. He’s becoming more and more of a fully well-rounded forward, and all we have to do is just sit back and enjoy it.