There is no question that Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry each bring amazing talent to the pitch. With that talent, however, comes great fragility.
Okay, frequent fragility.
With Coman slightly banged up entering Bayern Munich’s UEFA Champions League quarterfinal match against FC Barcelona, Hansi Flick did what he has had to do numerous times this season: lean on veteran Inter Milan-loanee Ivan Perisic to fill the void.
Not surprisingly, Perisic rose to the occasion with a fantastic showing.
A beacon of stability on the flanks this season when called upon, Perisic arguably scored the most important goal of the season for the Bavarians. After David Alaba’s regrettable — and preventable — own-goal, Barca had Bayern Munich scrambling and under immense pressure. The familiar sense of doubt — and maybe even some *gasp* fear — had seeped into many Bayern Munich fans.
Enter the Croatian Ice Man.
With veteran guile, Perisic recognized an aggressive drive into the box by Serge Gnabry, overlapped the pacey German to the outside, accepted a deft no-look pass, and fired an incredibly tough shot from a difficult angle at Marc-André ter Stegen, which the Barca goalkeeper found too hot to handle.
Perisic’s tally gave Bayern Munich a 2-1 lead and a boatload of confidence for the rest of the match. The 31-year-old’s big game experience helped boost Bayern Munich’s resilience and powered the way for the eventual 8-2 beat down that was to follow.
Bayern again!— Champions League on CBS Sports (@UCLonCBSSports) August 14, 2020
Ivan Perišić blasts a left-footed strike and once again the German giants have the lead. pic.twitter.com/uzCRyP6cCG
While some might have had their doubts about Perisic’s form entering the season, and some more were wary of how he would perform against Barcelona, the Croatian showed exactly why Bayern Munich acquired him the in the first place.
It was for this time, this moment.
When one of the team’s franchise wingers was unable to start, Perisic provided the solid and effective presence the squad needed. Sure, he probably could have added two more goals to his personal score-sheet, but those misses do not matter. It was his lone goal that affected the game and it was his presence that helped change the direction of the contest.
Maybe he was “Ivan the Pretty Good” for most of the season, but against FC Barcelona, he was absolutely “Ivan the Great.”