If you know the format of the BFW’s match awards series, you know that I am in a bit of a conundrum. Bayern Munich’s players did not have a good game, Borussia Mönchengladbach’s players had a fantastic game. Bayern has played worse games as a team, but it was a poor individual performance.
Jersey Swap: Florian Neuhaus and Breel Embolo
I can already hear the public outcry from my decision: ‘’What about Jonas Hofmann and Lars Stindl?!’’
Yes, Hofmann scored twice and Stindl brilliantly cut through Bayern’s defense like a knife cuts through butter, but overall, I was so incredibly impressed by Florian Neuhaus and Breel Embolo. I couldn’t choose between the two, and I refuse to choose between the two. Both played their roles to absolute perfection and was, in my opinion, the best players on the pitch.
From giving away a penalty— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) January 8, 2021
To scoring the winner
Redemption and relief for Florian Neuhaus #BMGFCB 3-2 pic.twitter.com/VtN1Id2Atv
As mentioned in my observations (go check them out if you haven’t already done so), Florian Neuhaus was given a more offensive role than usual in this game. With Christoph Kramer and Denis Zakaria as the defensive midfielders, Neuhaus got the freedom to roam the midfield and become the attacking outlet in the midfield trio. His ability to always move the ball forward with his passing was truly remarkable. What was even more remarkable was that he often didn’t have too many options when looking to move the ball forward. Gladbach sat deep for most of the game and Jonas Hofmann, Lars Stindl, and Breel Embolo were the only pure attacking options for them.
So why did Gladbach manage to win the game? Neuhaus passing was key, but so was Breel Embolo’s build-up play. He bullied Niklas Süle today with his impressive athleticism and dynamic speed. Embolo was the reason why Gladbach was able to turn defense into the attack so quickly. He either held the ball for another player or was able to turn around with the ball himself. Lastly, he was everywhere. He wasn’t only centrally positioned on the pitch but often helped out either Stindl or Hofmann on the flanks. A fantastic performance from a striker that didn’t score or assist.
Der Kaiser: Tanguy Nianzou
This is the first and last player I will include in these awards that didn’t play the game, I promise. But I thought it was relevant when analyzing the best defender in today’s game. All defenders, except for Manuel Neuer who was not to blame for any of the goals, had a really poor game. A shaky defense is something that has become somewhat of an unwanted feature of this Bayern Munich side as of late. Who can benefit from this? Tanguy Nianzou. If he gets back to fitness, I think there’s a good argument why a fast center-back with great passing skills should get to start some games. Hence, he wins the award today, without playing a single second.
Fußballgott: Leon Goretzka
I don’t necessarily think Goretzka played particularly well today but I thought his goal was enough to make him this game’s Fußballgott. After a clever interception, Goretzka finished off a solo run by a fantastic strike that left Yann Sommer stranded between the posts. A beautiful goal from a good player.
Der Bomber: Thomas Müller
Thomas Müller’s determination and love for Bayern is something of a dying breed in the modern game. A one-club man, he will forever be one of my favorite players. Today was his 366th game for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, and he played with enthusiasm like it was his first. For that, he gets the award.
Meister of the Match: Robert Lewandowski
What defines the best player in the world? For me, it is when you can realize that even on an average day, that player always poses a threat when he is on the ball. Robert Lewandowski is the best number 9 striker I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime, and it is a pleasure to observe him play, even during an average performance.