It was not a banner day for the Catalans.
Barca fans have to be confused about what is happening, but it was no easy task to be matched up with Bayern Munich, who was clearly looking to make a statement. Here are some quick hitters on the match:
- The starting lineup offered few surprises. Thomas Müller and Benjamin Pavard did not start, but it was likely a wise move to rotate. Müller is coming off both illness and injury, while Pavard could always use an off day give his own injury history. Both players also figure to have significant roles for their respective countries during the World Cup, so a little rest was okay by me. Noussair Mazraoui started for Pavard and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting started at striker in a more traditional alignment for the Bavarians. Jamal Musiala filled in at the No. 10 for Müller:
- FC Barcelona was in a tough spot. Once the players knew they had no shot at advancing, it had to be a huge mental letdown. That said, I thought Barca initially came out focused and looking to knock off Bayern Munich, but energy and focus waned pretty quickly. Like, really quickly.
- How good was Matthijs de Ligt? Not only did he engage in a hardcore battle with Robert Lewandowski, but he managed to avoid (barely at times) being goaded into making sloppy mistakes, losing his discipline, or falling into any traps. This was probably De Ligt’s landmark showing for Bayern Munich to date.
- De Ligt’s partner-in-crime, Dayot Upamecano, was also very solid.
- Serge Gnabry also had himself a day with three assists. When Gnabry is on, he is a blast to watch. Sadio Mané, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, and Pavard were the goal scorers and all were very good, though Pavard’s appearance was abbreviated.
- Alphonso Davies did better in keeping the ball and not losing possession, which is the growth step I love seeing.
- Joshua Kimmich seems like he really likes to play against FC Barcelona.
- I didn’t think Jamal Musiala was great. He wasn’t terrible or anything, but just seemed a little off.
- It was awesome to see Sven Ulreich get another clean sheet. His second act at Bayern Munich has been pretty damn good.
- I wonder if Robert Lewandowski regrets his move? Sure, he will get acclaim (at some point), but the transfer likely did not make him all that much richer, did not help his Ballon d’Or status, and likely won’t see him win much more than — maybe — a La Liga crown (which is very far from a sure thing). I guess the weather is nice.
- I don’t even hold a grudge or anything against Lewandowski. It was his right to move on, but from a competitive standpoint, it has to be frustrating to have to suit up every day with a bunch of players, who are supposed to be good rather than a group of teammates, who actually are good.
- Overall, it was a “take care of business” game for Bayern Munich and they did just that. The mentality of the squad is on-point and while things have not always looked great this season, we are beginning to see that this team has the ability to ramp up to meet the expectations of playing in a marquee matchup like this. Now...can they avoid letting down against lesser opponents? That is question that we will need to see consistently answered moving forward.
Manchester City midfielder and Germany international İlkay Gündoğan could be moving on from the Premier League power after the season — even if Pep Guardiola wants to keep him around.
Ilkay Gundogan has an uncertain future at Manchester City as his contract is up in 2023 and no new deal is on the horizon. The 32-year-old says he’s willing to stay beyond the summer if given assurances over playing time, but Graeme Bailey of 90min says Bayern Munich are ‘considering a move’ if he doesn’t commit his future to City.
90min say City are keen to extend Gundogan’s deal, but Bayern will be an attractive proposition. The 32-year-old hasn’t played in Germany for seven years but could be keen on joining the Bundesliga champions if he’s no longer a regular in England. Bayern can agree a pre-contract deal in January too, so City are running out of time to tie him down.
Juventus and Barcelona have been linked with Gundogan and can also agree a deal in January to sign him for free next summer, so might this be the German midfielder’s last year at City?
Gündoğan is in an interesting position. He clearly has enough to offer to be a starter somewhere if he wants to, but he might like the comfort — and money — of an extended stay with City rather than a move at this stage of his career.
Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo might be open to another round of Serie A adventures.
Cristiano Ronaldo is open to returning to Italy with Napoli after being snubbed by a string of Premier League clubs. Cristiano Ronaldo’s Manchester United exile will continue for Thursday’s clash with Sheriff Tiraspol unless he shows some contrition and agrees to abide by Erik ten Hag’s rules.
I’m not major fan of Ronaldo, but if Napoli wants him, Manchester United should find a way to make it happen.
In this episode of BPW’s Flagship show, Tom and Schnitzel discuss:
- Choupo-Moting’s fine run of form
- Choupo’s presence making Bayern more tactically flexible (playing WITH a striker)
- Should the board give Choupo a one-year extension at some point
- Some of our attackers’ lack of finishing (Sadio Mane, Serge Gnabry)
- Potentially looking at Juventus’ Dušan Vlahović this winter
- Are any players holding back to avoid a pre-World Cup injury?
- What players will Nagelsmann turn to with rotations he has to make for this final hinrunde stretch?
- Will Nagelsmann pick more non-World Cup players (Choupo, Sabitzer, Tel, etc)?
- How we feel about our upcoming Champions League clash against Barcelona (round 2!)
Real Madrid are interested in Heung-Min Son, who is preparing for the next move in his career after shooting to world-class status over the last few seasons at Tottenham.
The good performances that Frenchman Evan N’Dicka has been offering since the season started have not gone unnoticed in the Premier League . According to The Sun today , at least four major teams in the tournament have already shown interest in hiring the Eintracht Frankfurt defender .
Said quartet would be made up of Tottenham, Manchester United, Newcastle and an Arsenal that the newspaper already points out as the main favorite to take over their services. The Gunners have failed in their attempt to recruit other players such as Lisandro Martínez or Calvin Bassey and have already decided to focus their efforts on the former Auxerre player.
N’Dicka has been better this season, but his game is too up-and-down as a defender for my tastes. If Eintracht Frankfurt can get a good deal for him, they should take it.