Jersey Swap: Ferran Torres
When else will we ever be able to give Robert Lewandowski an award again? Sadly, this won’t be the time to do it, either. Lewy made some flashy plays but couldn’t pull the attack together on his own, and faded into anonymity for large swathes of the action. He would eventually be substituted in the 80th minute in a waving of the white flag from coach Xavi Hernández.
Barça just looked flat, and in a way, that’s understandable — they’d only just learned of their Champions League exit courtesy of Inter Milan, after all. But one player who did show well was Ferran Torres. The second-half substitute was pure energy after coming on and a serious difficulty to handle.
In the end, he was too isolated — trying to make it all happen on his own and just getting cut out, or ending up on the wrong page as a teammate, despite the oohs and ahs he’d draw from the crowd. The story of Barça’s day, really.
Der Kaiser: Matthijs de Ligt
Really a good showing from all of Bayern Munich. De Ligt’s center-back partner Dayot Upamecano made his own share of outstanding interventions. Both center-backs also picked up yellow cards — but when it came time to bring on Benjamin Pavard, Julian Nagelsmann chose for Upamecano to make way.
De Ligt’s combo of physical stature and defensive nous was key to Bayern’s ability to handle Barcelona’s ultra-talented — if disjointed — forwards. His inch-perfect tackle on Lewandowski was so good it was initially ruled a penalty. In the second half, he kept Ferran Torres from wriggling through to beat Sven Ulreich, then blocked a potentially dangerous long-range hit to keep the Catalans scoreless.
Fußballgott: Joshua Kimmich
Bayern’s metronome as usual. Kimmich pace-set for Bayern as they more or less coasted to victory, running things well from the center of the park — and launching some of those fine, fine balls over the top that he has practically patented. He was in crucial position to intercept various attempts from Barça to create, too.
Bayern fans almost take Kimmich’s extremely consistent qualities for granted sometimes. But what a rock he is for this team.
Der Bomber: Sadio Mané
Redemption season for the Senegalese forward and second-place finisher in the Ballon d’Or voting! Mané kicked things off for Bayern with intent and in style, timing a run off Héctor Bellerín’s shoulder to perfection. He had plenty of work left to do in chipping a composed finish beyond Marc-André ter Stegen’s reach. The early advantage helped Bayern shatter Barça’s already dampened spirits.
A pressing monster as well, Mané was all over the pitch for the Bavarians. Resolute tackles, incisive passing, fearsome goal threat. After one game’s rest, Mané is back to showing how valuable his presence is, and he was all energy from start to finish.
Of course, we must shout out Mister Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting as well. His finishing really is something. And that 55th minute feed for Alphonso Davies — maybe Le Choup is a No. 10 after all?
Meister of the Match: Serge Gnabry
What an inspired selection this was on the right wing. Gnabry kept Kingsley Coman on the bench for tonight and quickly renewed his early-season partnership with Sadio Mané — though while they were initially the two central attackers in Bayern’s 4-2-2-2, this time they combined from opposite wings. Gnabry drifted inside as well, as he often does, showcasing all of his own talents in the playmaking role.
Gnabry ended up with both of Bayern’s assists, and very nearly found Mané on the break for his assist hat-trick — a feat he’d eventually pull off, quite accidentally, with the last kick of the game (you’re welcome, Benjamin Pavard). He should have had a goal of his own as well, but was offside by a slim margin of his head (even despite his man-bun). It was still a fine effort.
Gnabry has had ups and downs this season, and maybe his place in the Bayern attack was starting to feel a bit uncertain. Today, on the big stage, he turned in an emphatic display of class.
As always, we appreciate all the support!