After a slow and shaky start, Bayern Munich came alive as a unit to score four goals against Schalke and bag all three points in the Veltins Arena. A little dose of luck plus a huge Manuel Neuer ensured the clean sheet while Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Müller lead the attack. Here are the game observations:
Leroy Sané slowly but surely integrating into Bayern’s playing style
Difficult would be understating Sané’s adaption ever since his move to Bayern in the summer. A year-long injury, preceded by lack of minutes under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City only made his integration into this high pace Bayern Munich side all the more grueling.
Despite a slow start to life at Bayern, Sané worked his socks off, even going as far as to skip vacation to work with the coaching staff. Though there is still some way to go, the Essen native’s hard work has paid off if his recent performances are anything to go by.
Sané being an out and out attacker, it was only a matter of time for him to settle into Bayern — where there has always been strong emphasis on playing through the wings with speed. What has been a pleasant surprise however is how quickly he has improved his defensive side of the game. Leroy has been proactive in pressing forward and helping out his teammates nonstop while being subjected to counters.
With his partner in crime Serge Gnabry currently not firing on all cylinders, the 25-year-old’s improvement will be crucial especially in the knockout stages of the Champions League where chances will be far fewer and defenses sealed shut.
The Captain has perhaps been Bayern’s most important player this season. Injuries, players out of form, fatigue, packed schedules, coming off of the high of winning the treble, no season break — it hasn’t been fun for the Bavarians this season. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Manuel Neuer has single handedly held on to the top spot for the club. Crucial saves almost every game, stopping momentum shifts or preventing the opposition from running away with games — Neuer’s done it all this season.
Schalke came up against Neuer early on but failed to put at least two great chances away where they could have had huge momentum shifts and put Bayern in a troubled spot. Manu made a total of 3 saves against Schalke, all of which were vital for the victory.
Neuer’s heroics saw him keep a second consecutive clean sheet and his record 197th Bundesliga clean sheet in total surpassing the legendary Oliver Kahn(196).
Exceptional performances from Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Müller
Kimmich and Müller today were a class above the rest of the players on the field. The game was going back forth with almost similar scoring chances for both teams, but Kimmich and Müller’s stellar offensive work was the difference for Bayern especially until the hour mark.
Kimmich had a mind boggling 8(!) key passes, providing a hattrick of assists. Completing 9 out of 11 long balls, he constantly found his teammates in dangerous positions. Making a total of 9 ball recoveries and completing 87 percent of his passes, Kimmich ran the middle of the park with 119 touches. Poor luck in front of goal aside, it was a superb day in the office for the 25 year old.
Space Interpreter turned Assassin, Thomas Müller’s exploits today against Schalke were a throwback to his older prolific goalscoring days.
Slipping into dangerous positions time and time again, Müller was an absolute nuisance for Die Knappen to deal with. Winning 4 out 5 aerial challenges, he completely disrupted the opposition’s defense plans and movements. His brace was a well deserved token for an excellent performance.