Bayern Munich turned Bayer Leverkusen into roadkill on the highway to three points tonight in the Allianz Arena, winning 4-0 and barely letting up throughout the game. Which players stood out the most?
Jersey Swap: Jonathan Tah
Jonathan Tah was one of the few Leverkusen players who actually did something defensively. Bayern concentrated their attacks down the left flank, with Tah often having to shield against Alphonso Davies and Sadio Mané running at him at high speed. Tah managed to make multiple crucial blocks and tackles, sealing this spot for him.
Special mention must also go to Piero Hincapié who came off the bench in an unfamiliar role at left back rather than his preferred center back position, and was excellent holding down the right wing during the second half, as well as getting forward and putting in a good cross or two.
Der Kaiser: Matthijs de Ligt
Matthijs de Ligt showed why Bayern paid the big bucks for him with a stellar performance, fully earning his clean sheet. Leading the back-line vocally and by example, De Ligt was simply faultless, never losing a 1-on-1 duel, winning multiple aerial battles and even pressing excellently at times while others held the fort down for him. His ability to progress the ball from deep was also key to Bayern’s play as he would often find attackers between Leverkusen’s midfield and defensive lines. He even showed the trademark Ajax total football DNA, pushing into the opposition box late into the game as a non-emergency emergency striker.
It really showed how important De Ligt was to the back-line when the one time he wasn’t there to general the defense due to a press, Leverkusen found their way into a key chance — which they would have scored from had it not been for Manuel Neuer doing Manuel Neuer things.
Fußballgott: Joshua Kimmich
Joshua Kimmich answered all the critics of his performances with a fantastic game. He was defensively astute, putting in great tackles and interceptions and shielding the defense more than competently, something he has been criticized for. While he did press and hassle Leverkusen’s midfielders, he was very rarely ever caught advanced too far up the pitch or leaving a hole behind himself, and sometimes he was even employed as a temporary center back when De Ligt or Dayot Upamecano pressed up the field.
Kimmich would drop as the safe option when building from the back as has become custom, and would be Bayern’s primary option for ball progression as he would find passes into advanced positions and sometimes even directly into the final third. In particular, his ability to find Sadio Mané and Leroy Sané in advanced positions out wide was a joy to watch. There was no player as present on the ball as Kimmich.
Der Bomber: Leroy Sané
What is Leroy Sané cooking?
Sané and one other player who will remain unnamed for now were just on another level today. It genuinely looked like Sané was playing a different sport to the others. It was like watching an U19 prospect playing in a game of U14s. His pace was unmatched. His link-up and signature one-twos were smooth and quick, showcasing his ability to rip apart defenses like Gordon Ramsay ripping into an overcooked omelet. He came right out of the gate with a goal in the third minute on his right foot, darting into the middle and getting onto the end of a Jamal Musiala cross when Musiala drifted to the right flank. Somehow despite being played on the right side — where he is usually so dead it troubles me on a cellular level — Sané ran the game on his wing.
Master of the Match: Jamal Musiala
Jamal Musiala is the best footballer to ever walk the Earth.
Okay, he’s not. But holy dribble through four players, Batman, he makes it seem like he is. The kid is cracked.
Musiala set up the first goal with a great run and even better cross to Sané. He scored the second goal of the game himself with an unreal first touch on a long ball from Dayot Upamecano, followed by those set of passes with Thomas Müller and eventually the cannonball into the back of the net. He set up the third goal with a great recovery on the right wing and then the ball across the face of the penalty box for Sadio Mané.
Then, he made me question life and the universe itself after receiving the ball at the edge of the box from a corner, looked up to see nine players in front of him, and dribbled right through them to lay it off for Mané. That one was disallowed, sadly — that’s nine disallowed goals for Mané this season.
Furthermore, Musiala was more of a third midfielder than an attacker, tracking back and battling with Leverkusen’s midfielders and often winning the ball back all by himself. He’s the complete package — Bayern and Germany’s best player this season, churning out Meister of the Match performances week in week out. How does he do it?
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