Bayern Munich looked really good today. Hoffenheim came out all guns firing in the same way they did in the reverse fixture, hoping to force Bayern into making errors that could be exploited via quick counters, and their plan almost seemed to work at the beginning.
This time however, Flick was well prepared, and the team soaked up all the pressure, before starting to fire away like a group of assassins, launching wave after wave of attacks. The passing was great to watch, the attack was fluid, but the defense started in nervy fashion once again, only to be bailed out by the incredible ManWall Neuer on multiple occasions.
This was a performance showing Bayern’s resolve, fighting mentality and team spirit. This was a statement win, and the 4-1 score-line seems poetic, given Bayern lost to Hoffenheim by that exact same margin in the reverse fixture. A very tough match for the awards, but anyways, here are the players who made it to the podium:
Jersey Swap: Andrej Kramaric
Kramaric was his usual self, heavily involved in Hoffenheim’s every foray into Bayern’s half. His passing was quick and precise, and he was successful in splitting the defense multiple times with his awareness. He scored Hoffenheim’s only goal with a clinical finish, off a move which he initiated.
Honorary mention - Oliver Baumann: Had a very good game, making numerous superb saves to deny Lewandowski, Kimmich and Müller on multiple occasions, and a save of the season contender to deny Sane’s curling effort. Unlucky to have conceded that many, he definitely kept the score from being far more lopsided.
Der Bomber: Robert Lewandowski
Lewandowski was spectacular today. He was marked out well by Hoffenheim at the beginning, but slowly grew into the game and was soon back to his usual form, with great flicks, superb off the ball movement, amazing vision and another well taken goal. He also assisted Müller’s goal with some delightful footwork and great skill, and was unlucky to not have 2 more goals to his name, courtesy of Baumann.
Fuẞballgott: Joshua Kimmich
Kimmich was everywhere. It is quite possible that he stepped on every blade of grass on the pitch at least once today. His passing was great, he served as an outlet to teammates under pressure, and pressed the Hoffenheim midfielders tirelessly. Kimmich assisted Bayern’s first with an absolute peach of a ball, and also helped in the build up towards some of the others. In short, another complete performance from the in-form midfielder.
Der Kaiser: Benjamin Pavard
Pavard, in my eyes, was more or less the definition of rock solid today. This is more like the Pavarrrrrr we’ve known from last season. He was good going forward, but more importantly, he was very good at the back. Boateng and Alaba gave Bayern a lot to worry about at the start of the game, getting caught out during Hoffenheim’s quick counters multiple times, but the right side was relatively silent today because of the work the Frenchman put in.
Granted, both Boateng and Alaba grew into the game as it progressed, with the former scoring Bayern’s first, but the best defender today was quite clear, at least to me. Pavard’s tackles were well timed, and his positioning was much better. Very unlucky to have had a superb goal ruled out (I was screaming ‘PAVARRRRRRRRRR’ at the top of my voice when that rocket went in) but nevertheless, he can be very happy with his shift. Let’s hope he only goes up from here.
Meister of the Match: Manuel Neuer
This needs the least explanation. Neuer kept us in the game in the first 25 minutes with two out of this world saves. He closed the space on Bebou instinctively and made himself as big as possible to deny the winger an early goal, shortly after which he made a good save against Kramaric, who was lurking behind the Bayern line.
In the second half, Neuer was even better. He denied Baumgartner a goal with a save from point blank range, and made a brave forays outside the box to help the Bayern defense. He was also always in time to clear any danger, and showed a lot of composure. The highlight of the game came in the dying moments of the match, when Nordtveit controlled Kramaric’s feed and sent a powerful curling effort towards goal, that looked destined to go in. However, Neuer had different ideas. His reflexes turned out to be even quicker, as he made a stunning save, diving and stretching wide to push the ball just wide.
This man is on fire right now, and as long as he retains his form, only good things will happen for Bayern. Sadly for Nuebel, it looks like a loan move might be the best option if he wants any game time.
Marc Roca: Would’ve certainly had an award today, had he not picked up a yellow card right at the start of the second half. He was very sharp during the first 45 minutes, dominating the midfield area, spraying passes with great accuracy and helping with the defense. He won back the ball several times, and even had a good effort saved by Baumann. Solid outing.
Thomas Müller: Doing his Raumdeutering as usual. A very well taken goal, very active up front and made some good defensive challenges. Generally showed a lot of awareness, and was willing to drop back into a deeper role whenever required.
Kingsley Coman: Very active up front, and looked dangerous every time he was on the ball. Assisted Bayern’s 3rd and 4th and was great as usual. His form should give Bayern a lot of confidence moving forward, especially with regards to the UCL.