Jamal Musiala is a phenomenon
But you don’t need me to tell you that. So let me tell you WHY he’s a phenomenon. This is a kid that, at 17 years of age, just started for Bayern Munich in a Champions League round of 16 game versus Lazio. By all rights, he should’ve been out of his depth — but he wasn’t.
Brought into the lineup in place of the sidelined Thomas Muller, no one expected Musiala to have the impact that he did. We just wanted him to be better than Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting was against Eintracht Frankfurt (a very low bar indeed). But the youngster did SO much better — he took on his role with the poise and composure of a player well beyond his years.
There are three key attributes that every Bayern player needs to have: Pressing, Passing, and Positioning. Musiala excels at all of them. His pressing, while maybe a little unfocused, is tenacious. The kid’s got some lungs. He can pass and dribble through any defense, and certainly made Lazio’s defenders work to dispossess him. And his movement would be impressive for a player twice his age, not just a 17-year-old kid.
Bayern Munich really have a special player on their hands. With his 18th birthday coming up soon, we can’t wait to see him sign a brand new contract. Make no mistake, Musiala is one of the most exciting teenagers in Europe right now.
Lazio bewildered by Bayern’s press
Say what you will about Hansi Flick’s tactics — this is a coach that knows how to put fear in the hearts of the opposition. Aside from a four minute spell in the second half, there was not a single moment in the game where Lazio had any semblance of control over the proceedings.
As a pressing unit, Bayern suffocated them and forced easy turnovers, and two of the goals were the result of errors from a defense under pressure. Lazio looked like a deer aught in the headlights — it wasn’t pretty.
If not for the pace of Manuel Lazzari, the Italians might have spent the entire game confined to their own box. Lazzari’s lightning pace kept the Bavarians honest, even managing to beat Alphonso Davies at his own game a couple of times. Davies, to his credit, gave back in kind, schooling a few Lazio players of his own. That was the only area of the pitch where Simone Inzaghi’s men can say they had a decent outing, because otherwise, it was a thoroughly dominant display by Bayern.
Is right-back the future for Niklas Sule?
Niklas Sule is the bigger than the average fridge, but boy can this man dribble. He ended the game with the second-highest number of dribbles on the pitch, performing 4 of them with a 100% success rate. It was frankly a bizarre sight to watch, like someone had put Leo Messi in the body of an unnecessarily hench German.
After the immense criticism Sule has received in recent weeks, including ignominious links to Chelsea, this game comes as a statement from the defender. This is the second time this season that he’s dominated at right-back in a big game, the other being the time he pocketed Moussa Diaby against Bayer Leverkusen in December. With performances like these, Benjamin Pavard should watch out. Sule might take his starting right-back spot very soon.