Bayern Munich once again showed the world why they are widely considered the best team in the world in a thoroughly dominant and impressive performance, considering they played almost the entire game with just 10 men. Alphonso Davies’ rash challenge on Wataru Endo saw him sent off at the 12th minute, and this certainly felt like it was going to be a long day for the Bayern team, considering the defense has been struggling lately.
However, Bayern was a different beast tonight, and the 10-man team put in a performance worthy of a Champions League final. Within the first 26 minutes, Bayern put 4 unanswered goals past the helpless Stuttgart defense. Then, the defense had an incredible outing and saw the game out with a clean sheet. No, I’m not joking, we actually kept a clean sheet today!
With so many good performers, it was a hard game for the awards. However, it is when the going gets tough, the tough get going, so I took this up as a challenge to award the players I felt shone the brightest. Without further ado, here are the awards for today’s game:
Jersey Swap: Sasa Kalajdzic
Sasa, Stuttgart’s imposing no.9, was a menace throughout the game. He gave the Bayern defense all sorts of problems, with his well timed runs, great aerial presence and strong shots with both feet. The Austrian was a bright spot all game, but failed to capitalize on some chances created, which was also thanks to some resolute defending by Bayern’s back line. He certainly has a bright future ahead, and is already starting to attract top European clubs.
Der Bomber: Thomas Müller
Simply put, this man makes the offense tick. He was everywhere in Stuttgart’s half, and always gave his teammates a passing channel in the center or up the flanks, gave the defenders a torrid time with his drifting, ghosting runs and linked up beautifully with Sané, Lewandowski and Gnabry all game. His sublime layoff for Sané resulted in Bayern’s second after the latter fed Gnabry with a precise ball, while his cross to Lewandowski for Bayern’s third was simply telepathic.
The Raumdeuter, also known as “Radio-Müller” for his vocal presence, was shouting instructions to his teammates from the get-go, and also helped to organize the attack. The result was a highly efficient and beautiful attacking display. Müller is in a hot run of form, and just added another assist to what is already a huge tally (14) in the Bundesliga this season, which takes him to 24 direct goal contributions after factoring in his 10 goals. Brilliant player, brilliant outing.
Fußballgott: Leon Goretzka
Bayern Munich’s resident hulk was silently effective today. He covered a lot of ground, helped out with the defense with a game high 3 clearances, 3 tackles and 2 interceptions. He was also very active in the attack, involved in the buildup to many goals. He always found himself in the midst of good passing sequences, especially during transitions, and aimed to get the ball to his teammates as efficiently as possible. Another solid outing for Goretzka, who has cemented his spot in Bayern’s champagne XI.
Der Kaiser: David Alaba
This was one of Alaba’s best games of the season. The Austrian, who started the game in central midfield, was forced to drift back to take a more defensive position. He played as a CB-CM-LB hybrid all game, mostly manning the left side, and boy was he good. Always super assured in defense, chipping in with some really good defensive plays (3 strong tackles, and some very timely interceptions) and maintaining a high passing accuracy of 84% from a wide defensive position, Alaba really shone today.
He was also involved in various defense to offense transitions, sent in a few good crosses and exchanged one-twos with Gnabry, giving the Stuttgart defense one more player to worry about. This form bodes well going into the busy end of the season, and the clean sheet would be a massive boost to his confidence, and that of the entire Bayern backline.
Honorary mention: Jerome Boateng - made two outstanding interceptions to prevent what could’ve been goals, and put in 2 strong tackles to deny clear goal-scoring opportunities.
Meister of the Match: Robert Lewandowski
The world’s best footballer is making himself very comfortable down here these days. You simply can’t not give him the award for performances like these. He was super active up front from the kickoff whistle, and dazzled the Stuttgart defense with his great runs, superb skills and strong physical presence. Lewandowski had a perfect hat trick this game - he scored with his left leg, right leg and head. Nothing too great for him at this point, I suppose.
His first goal was testament to his footballing IQ (as is every goal of his) but this one showed why he’s the perfect ‘prototype’ striker. Displaying incredible awareness to monitor Gnabry’s run down the left flank, Lewandowski slowly drifted inside, without catching the attention of the defenders. He then sprang forward in a split-second motion right when Gnabry released the ball, stretched his leg wide and slotted the ball in with a powerful finish. Glorious.
The second goal was a gorgeous header; Lewandowski rose up really high with a spectacular jump with the timing, strength and accuracy carried out to perfection. He then nodded the ball towards the far right corner with power and precision, and goalkeeper Gregor Köbel could do nothing but watch the ball sail behind him. The third goal was another instinctive run in from the back, a classy touch and a tidy finish.
This man is on the form of his life, and is currently on God mode. It is difficult to not imagine him breaking even more records in the future, and I honestly feel Gerd Müller’s Bundesliga career goals record is also at risk of being broken.