Bayern Munich ended 2021 on a high note with their commanding 4-0 win over VfL Wolfsburg just three days after hammering VfB Stuttgart 5-0 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. The score line perhaps doesn’t do Wolfsburg’s discipline and resiliency enough justice, as they really made Bayern work for it for most of the first half, but Bayern’s attack, once again, proved to be too much for their opponents to handle. Thomas Muller broke the deadlock in the 7th minute on his 400th Bundesliga appearance for Bayern, but Wolfsburg responded well to going down and didn’t offer Bayern much space in the attacking third. Second half goals from Dayot Upamecano, Leroy Sane, sealed the deal for Bayern, ending what’s been an exceptionally year.
Sane had yet another solid performance, and after the match, he spoke about how Bayern hard to work exceptionally hard to break down Wolfsburg’s deep lying defensive blocks with minimal spaces in between the lines. After Muller’s opener, they had really set up shop and were looking to catch Bayern out on the counter attack when one of, or both, Upamecano and Lucas Hernandez were pressed higher up the pitch. “It was very, very difficult in the first half. We tried to exert pressure with ball possession. The goal was good for us then, of course. We definitely have to be patient. We know that teams line up at the back. That’s when we have to pull them apart,” Sane explained (Tz).
Sane had a striking resemblance to Arjen Robben with his finely taken goal in the 59th minute to make it 3-0 to Bayern, cutting in from the right onto his left foot and curling his chance into the bottom right corner of Koen Casteels’ net. Serge Gnabry’s clever, first time pass after Benjamin Pavard played it out wide to him had found Sane in enough space to get the chance off, truly capping off in style what’s been an incredible resurgence this season from Sane. It wasn’t too long ago that he was being booed at the Allianz Arena during the first half of the 3-2 win over FC Köln. He’s been one of Bayern’s best performers since then, but he doesn’t quite agree that he’s been the best overall in the Hinrunde. “I wouldn’t say that (best Hinrunde player), there are a few other players who played great. I’m happy with my development, of course. But now we have a bit of a break. There I can switch off mentally also something,” he said.
It's three for Bayern. What a strike from Sane! pic.twitter.com/L3mmYHVRDD— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 17, 2021
Bayern is coming off of a seven match winning streak across all competitions and they’ve hit a patch a solid form to close out the Hinrunde and calendar year. While momentum is certainly important, the winterpause couldn’t come at a better time with the amount of matches they’ve been playing in quick succession. Overall, within the squad, Sane said the mood is good and morale is high heading into the holiday break. “We’re going into the break with a win. We can be happy about the performance and the first round. It’s fun to kick with the guys. You can see that from the outside as well, I think,” he explained.
Looking back, coming back from his knee injury combined with the pause in matches due to the pandemic didn’t make life any easier for Sane in his maiden season at Bayern after joining from Manchester City. Now, he said he feels fully fit and firing on all cylinders, which has been greatly aided by Julian Nagelsmann and the rest of his teammates getting behind him. “I feel physically well now, I’m fit. I didn’t feel so comfortable in my body last season after the long injury. And then we didn’t have any game rhythm because of Corona. The club, the coach, the team - everyone is behind you. That gives you a good feeling. But in the end, they can all talk and do out there. But the player has to work it out with himself. I tried to get the rhythm back. Julian (Nagelsmann) also had a good hand. He reads the players quite well,” he said.