Bayern Munich cruised past TSG Hoffenheim today with a convincing victory. Dino Toppmöller continued as the stand-in coach for Julian Nagelsmann and got the job done for his boss. The more these performances turn out to be a team effort, the better it is for Bayern but at the same time, the harder it gets to give out individual awards — which is a problem we are happy to have!
There was always a player or two hotly contesting for the awards and hence the winners tend to be only marginally better than their peers. Having gotten that out of the way, let’s dive into it:
Jersey Swap : Chris Richards
You could say this one is a little biased, but make no mistake, the young American showed a lot of maturity and calmness on the pitch despite being on the receiving end of a stellar Bayern performance. In several situations Richards had to take on the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, Serge Gnabry and Jamal Musiala 1-on-1. Even a much more experienced defender would find those battles very tricky to deal with. Richards held his own winning 3 of his 4 duels, and together with Florian Grillitsch formed the bedrock of whatever defense TSG put up today.
The duel when he almost broke up the Mullendowski pairing before Lewandowski’s banger was a highlight of the game. Richards was unlucky he couldn’t stop that goal from happening. It was a tough day in the office for the young gun, but a day with so much to learn from!
Der Kaiser: Omar Richards
This was the toughest pick of the night. The entire backline deserves a lot of credit for the clean sheet. I know the clean sheets are looking easy, but throw it back a year ago and we know how difficult clean sheets are to come by. Nagelsball is thriving on the fortress he’s built at the back — very dynamic, very involved in play but also very solid.
It seems Nags has divided duties that suit each player’s strengths. Lucas and Upamecano are the duelers who are the first to get in opposition players’ faces and steal the ball — and also occasionally involving in attacking moves. Pavard’s role is more of a sweeper and a force multiplier. He is pressing the nearest opposition player or making the situation into a 2v1. This has allowed Pavard to shine as he tends to get caught in 1v1 situations.
Bayern is currently gifted with brilliant left-backs in Alphonso Davies, Lucas Hernandez, and Omar Richards. Aside from their significant and speedy defensive contribution, they are usually more involved in play than the rest, carrying the ball from the defense to the midfield and beyond. The left flank being a constant channel of attack is a testimony to this.
Omar got a rare start at left back and put up a performance that will demand the coach’s attention every time he prepares the squad sheet. Winning all 3 of his tackles and succeeding in 3 of his 4 dribbles attempted, Omar played the jack of all trades trend in Bayern’s LB role to a tee. Like stated above, he wins this award on slight margins with the rest equally deserving the award.
Fußballgott: Joshua Kimmich
The Rottweiler bossed the pitch once again today. Effortlessly dictating play from the middle. Marcel Sabitzer looked much more settled in and assisted Kimmich well to win the midfield battle with ease. Creating 3 chances and winning 4 duels, Josh had a clean, all-round performance that enabled his teammates — his perfect performance in his own words, he shines when enables his teammates to shine.
Sabitzer definitely deserves an honorary mention. Looking much more comfortable sitting slightly behind in midfield, Marcel filled in for a more defensive role required by the team today.
Der Bomber: Serge Gnabry
It was a classic Gnabry performance. Popping into dangerous positions combined with lethal finishing. Gnabry’s ability to finish chances in the box is second to none especially when it’s at the end of fast paced attacks. It’s difficult and tricky as time and space run out with every fraction of a second. Gnabry took two shots, both of them on target but unluckily his first was ruled out for a foul by Musiala.
M&M, Muller and Musiala, the master and the apprentice. I know, Leroy Sane has taken Jamal under his wing — pun unintended, but Musiala is turning out to be more Muller-esque than Sane-esque. He has his own style but getting off passes and flicks in tight spaces is more Muller’s area of expertise than it is Sane’s. Musiala had a game high 94 percent pass accuracy — he plays at or near the tip of Bayern’s attack! Both of them deserve shout outs along with the supersub Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting!
Meister of the Match : The coaching staff
On another day, Lewandowski would have finished his chances like he usually does and as a result bag four goals along with the MOTM. However, Lewy was having a rare off-day and his finishing was uncharacteristically shabby.
Lewy missed chances, two goals were ruled out but Bayern still had a very comfortable 4-0 victory. That is the machine Julian Nagelsmann has turned this squad into. It was already working wonders under Hansi Flick, but Nags has turned the right screws to fine tune a star-studded squad. As a result he is getting more and more out of a team that was already performing exceedingly well. Just look at the goal difference of 25! No other team comes anywhere near in the top leagues in Europe, let alone Germany.
Nagelsmann and his coaching staff have so far done a lot of things brilliantly and the results are showing. Dino Toppmöller standing in for Nags and the team not feeling the head coach’s absence demonstrates the seamless functioning of Nagelsmann’s team. Kudos Julian and a speedy and complete recovery to you!