Jersey Swap: Robert Lewandowski
FC Barcelona played a surprisingly efficient game tonight. While any team with Robert Lewandowski will become one of the best in the world, Gavi, Pedri, and the remainder of also did a marvelous job especially in the first half.
However, the nod has to go to Lewandowski, catalyst for a majority of Barcelona’s best scoring opportunities. Among them was a gorgeous volley that could’ve been a goal of the year candidate if he had put it on frame. Lewandowski was a menace, consistently finding open space and getting the ball at his feet. If it was not for the herculean efforts of Manuel Neuer, Lucas Hernández, and Dayot Upamecano, Lewandowski could’ve had numerous goals. He’s arguably still the single best offensive player in the world and he reminded everyone tonight in his first return to Bavaria. Barcelona will be just fine with Lewandowski.
The Kaiser: Manuel Neuer/Alphonso Davies
I can’t pick just one. Frankly, Neuer kept the game even in the first half, as did Davies. If Hernández wasn’t Man of the Match, he’d be in the running for Der Kaiser as well. I mean heck, Dayot Upamecano has a valid claim to this award. In short, Bayern Munich’s defense was our best unit by far, which is weird to say. Neuer made numerous saves at close range and Davies’ recovery speed is still unmatched—to go with his offensive capabilities.
Saves like this were a reminder that Manuel Neuer is very much still an elite goalkeeper and one not to mess with:
Fußballgott: Leon Goretzka
Even though he played one half, he was the best midfielder for Bayern Munich by a country mile. Marcel Sabitzer played a great first half before being replaced by Leon Goretzka, but Leon was the cog that earned the corner for Bayern’s first goal and his build up play for Bayern’s second cannot go unmentioned. Joshua Kimmich earned some consideration given his defensive play tonight, but his consistently inconsistent passing meant that Kimmich was third place tonight. Leon’s arrival, which forced Kimmich to play more conservatively, brought back flashbacks of the Kimmich under Flick. Hopefully Nagelsmann makes a note of that, as Bayern’s midfield is best with Leon in it.
The Bomber: Leroy Sané
Best offensive player for Bayern Munich. I mean, he was everywhere. His goal through the center of Barcelona’s defense was eerily reminiscent of Arjen Robben’s Champions League winner vs Borussia Dortmund. This is the Leroy Sané Bayern thought they were buying from Manchester City. Whatever black magic Nagelsmann has done to Sané, I am all here for it. Given Bayern’s offensive struggles between Müller, Mané, and co., Sané continuing his torrid pace is a welcome development.
Meister of the Match: Lucas Hernandez
What can I say? He was nothing short of a demon in the backfield. He not only scored a thunderous header to open up his Champions League account, but was also largely responsible for keeping Robert Lewandowski and Barcelona off the scoresheet — making a third straight clean sheet for Manuel Neuer against Barça. His defensive acumen, positioning, and clearing skillset were all on full display as he helped stifle a robust Barcelona attack. Bayern’s €80 million defender has clearly established himself as Bayern’s top centre-back with tonight’s performance. That being said, all eyes will be on Hernández’s injury situation as he pulled up short in the closing seconds and finished the game on the sidelines with the physios.
Interested in more discussion of the game? Check our postgame podcast! Listen to it below or at this link.
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