The win never really looked in doubt as Bayern Munich made their way to the FIFA Club World Cup Final after a 0-2 win over the African Champions, Al Ahly SC. Without further ado, here are some observations:
A First Half of Near Perfection
I am struggling to remember a first half played as cleanly as this one by Bayern Munich this season; perhaps a 0-1 win over Augsburg and a 4-0 win over Atletico Madrid in the Champions League come to mind. The passing was crisp, the movement eye-catching and the defending sharp. There was one moment of confusion when Alphonso Davies lost his man and had to use his speed along with the assistance of David Alaba to get himself out of trouble, but that was really the only notable moment of chaos. Benjamin Pavard made more forward runs notably and the defensive midfield duo of Marc Roca and Joshua Kimmich held firm to limit Al Ahly’s chances.
Joshua Kimmich and Marc Roca — A Fruitful Partnership
The last time these two partnered each other, Roca stayed back and Kimmich ventured forward; today, they traded positions often and while one stayed back, the other moved forward. Roca made quite a few eventful runs into and around the box and almost got on the score sheet. His passing was neat and tidy as always. Kimmich looked sharp protecting the back four and was seemingly able to play more freely than he was against Hertha knowing that Roca was offering added protection to Jerome Boateng and David Alaba. In the second half, when matters got out of hand at the beginning, Roca was taken out of the game; I am not sure, however, how much of Bayern losing control was down to Roca or the team simply being sluggish after hours of travel (and the chaos caused by delays of course).
The impact of the double pivot could also be seen on the defense. With added protection, Jerome Boateng was able to safely cover for Benjamin Pavard’s errors while Alaba was able to do the same for Davies. There were very few instances that I can remember when the backline was caught out by one ball over the top from the opposition. I wonder if Flick will stick with the German-Spaniard duo until Leon Goretzka is back but I certainly hope he does.
Leroy Sané — The Impact Sub
For now, Leroy Sané’s best role may be that of impact sub. When he has started, he hasn’t shone nearly as brightly as he has as a substitute, although, he has improved recently. The German was defending really well today; at one point today, he was even the last man in his own box, heading away a cross. He set up Robert Lewandowski’s second goal with a gorgeous cross of tremendous quality. Also, his runs caused Al Ahly tremendous trouble. Furthermore, Sané made himself available in the box for every move and started the move which led to the second goal.
There was one moment though, when I thought a more confident Sané would have scored; he ran at the Ahly defense and could have gone into the box and taken a shot but chose to pass to Kingsley Coman; the move ended rather tamely. I hope, with time, the winger will become confident enough to go ahead and take the defenders on on his own and attempt to shoot.
So, there you have it! Let us know your thoughts and, as always, thank you for reading!