Sadio Mane scored once and assisted twice in Bayern Munich’s comprehensive 6-2 win over FSV Mainz at the weekend in what was certainly up there with hi best performances in a Bayern shirt thus far.
Since his five-match barren run across all competitions without a goal, the Senegalese attacker has turned in six goals and three assists, relieving some of the pressure he had come under for the number of chances he was missing in front of goal.
Julian Nagelsmann made a point of lauding Mane in front of the rest of the squad shortly after he had finished second behind Real Madrid and France’s Karim Benzema in the Ballon d'Or rankings and had been quick to rubbish the suggestion his player was being too wasteful in attack. As his track record at Liverpool has shown, he’s the type of player that has the capability of snapping out of a rut in an instant, and that’s just what he’s done, though his scoring rut was synonymous with a collectively poor run from Bayern as a whole, not just him, specifically.
After the win over Mainz, in which Mane had a fantastic performance, the Senegal captain was still adamant that he can be much better for Bayern. “I’m here for the team, trying to score goals, provide assists and win games for the team. But I can always get better in everything. I can show more and more,” he said to kicker, via @iMiaSanMia.
Aside from Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s hot streak, Nagelsmann has employed systems that don’t contain a natural, outright striker, and Mane has often played as one of Bayern’s most advanced attackers during earlier stages of the Hinrunde. It showed how lethal it can be when Bayern scored 15 goals from their opening three Bundesliga matches, but they did eventually hit that wall when they went four matches without a league win.
Now that Choupo-Moting has found some form, Mane has been deployed more often as a left winger, his preferred position, as opposed to a central forward. He can play both positions and the versatility is something he said he loves being able to constantly learn and grow from. “I’m someone who wants to learn every day. I think I can still improve a lot - offensively, defensively. My position? I’ve played left winger my whole life. If the team needs me as a striker or right winger, I’ll be there,” he explained.
Bayern is on a hot streak across all competitions now, having stamped their authority as winners of Group C in the Champions League, booking their place in the round of 16 in the DFB-Pokal, and winning three Bundesliga matches on the bounce. Now, there is no room for complacency to creep in just before the World Cup break next month, as Mane alluded to. “We’re on the right track. We’ve had very good weeks. But we have to keep going at a high level and stay consistent,” he warned.