Jersey swap: João Mario
Functioning as a box-to-box/playmaker hybrid, Mario was heavily involved in almost every Benfica move forward, and tried to cause all sorts of problems for Bayern Munich, especially in the first half. Grabbing an assist off a beautifully timed pass for Benfica’s second, Mario tested Bayern on a day when the center of the defense wasn’t exactly at its best.
Honorable mention: O. Vlachodimos
Benfica’s trusty goalkeeper, Vlachodimos isn’t exactly painted in glory by a 5-2 scoreline against him, but he did a decent job deputizing between the sticks. He even saved a Lewandowski penalty (gasp, who even does that these days?!) and made quite a few saves to deny a few attackers from close range. Yes, the Bayern attackers got the better of him on several occasions, but overall, this was a solid outing from the Greek international.
Der Bomber: Leroy Sané
2020/21 Sané has got nothing on the 2021/22 counterpart. This is a rejuvenated player, one who has been lifted from the shackles and catapulted to glory by Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann. Once again thriving as a LW/playmaker hybrid, Sané was a nightmare in the offense and did everything he could to inconvenience the Benfica defense. Grabbing a goal and an assist, this Sané is more of a complete player than ever before, and when you add in his defensive contributions, one can say that he’s even better now than during his prime Manchester City days.
Honorable mention: Kingsley Coman
It would be unfair not to give Coman a shout. The Frenchman used his electrifying pace and dribbling ability to devastating effect, sending the Benfica defenders helter-skelter and earning an assist off a beautiful dribble through the opposition defense. He looked dangerous every time he was on the ball.
Der Fußballgott: Leon Goretzka
This was a solid start for Goretzka after a spell on the sidelines. Yes, this was a toss-up between him and Kimmich, but Goretzka gets the nod because of being more involved in the offense while also covering so much ground. His passing accuracy was at a super-high 95.9%(!!!) and he controlled the tempo of the game from the midfield with his partner in crime. This was a very good performance, and we can only hope that he continues to look more and more like his previous season self.
Der Kaiser: Alphonso Davies
The FC Bayern “roadrunner”, who also happens to be our birthday boy had a spectacular game. What better time to put in an outstanding performance for your team than on your birthday?! The Canadian was stellar defensively, blocking well hit strikes, dispossessing Benfica attackers and helping with the buildup, and he was just as good up front with his superb runs, slaloming dribbles and a well earned assist off a pass to Leroy Sané for Bayern’s third. Nagelsmann is really getting the very best out of Davies, and it is such a joy to watch unfold on the pitch.
Meister of the Match: Robert Lewandowski
Goals? Check. Assist? Check. Holdup play? Check. Buildup? Check. Dribbling? Check.
What can this man not do? On his 100th UCL appearance, Lewandowski showed the world exactly why he’s being touted as one of the best number 9s to ever do it, and that, my friends, is exactly how you do it. Granted, he missed a penalty (which is as rare an occurrence as Alvaro Morata being onside), but he more than made up for it with a masterful hat trick and a superb assist for Serge Gnabry’s goal. This brings his UCL goal tally to a staggering 8 in just 4 games this season. At the rate he’s going, he is well on track to beating Ronaldo’s all-time UCL single-season goal record, provided Bayern makes a deep run in this season’s edition (fingers crossed).
This is the best player in the world for you, folks. France Football, I know you’re not about awarding the most deserving player and I know that your clownery knows no bounds, but c’mon. You’d have to be dumber than a bag of bricks to snub Lewandowski again. Just award it to the man.