Flashes of team brilliance shone through for FC Bayern Munich against PSV Eindhoven in Wednesday’s Champions League group stage match. Though far from perfect, the Reds’ performance was much improved over their draw at Eintracht Frankfurt on the weekend.
Joshua Kimmich has put aside any doubts that he is Europe’s best young player, while veteran Arjen Robben did everything right. Thiago Alcântara pulled the strings in midfield, with the centre-back duo of Jérôme Boateng and Mats Hummels proving lethal going forward as well as tidily defending.
If you could forget the last eight minutes of the first half, and 15 minutes to begin the second, you might think that Bayern’s mini-crisis had been wholly averted. Luciano Narsingh and captain Luuk de Jong were there to remind you that it has not been.
Let us do some stats, though, shall we?
Against his former club, Robben proved he still got it. Not only did he provide the short corner for Thomas Müller’s opening goal (though you might credit that assist to PSV’s horrible defense), but he also slid through a few defenders to get Robert Lewandowski his goal on the day.
Looking at the dashboard, I feel like some of those green stars (for successful take-ons) should be in multiples as anytime he sniffed the box, Robben found himself in triple coverage.
Five shots – one a lovely solo run from deep in Bayern territory -, two assists and an 88% pass completion rate could only be topped by a goal. One, remarkably, from his head. (See what I did there?)
Well, well, well. Just when many doubted his mettle, Thiago turns in this vintage sort of performance. A dizzying array of passes (97% completion) complements a lovely defensive performance, to boot. His assist for Robben’s goal might have catapulted him to MOTM status, except for the fact that the Dutchman scored.
Boateng and Hummels
Boateng was the more dominant of the centre-back pairing of the day, due to his positioning to try and close this season’s absurdly large midfield gap, but both turned in exemplary performances here. Boateng faired slightly better in all aspects (96% pass rate, 71% duels to Hummels’ 95% and 50%), but I do not think anyone can complain about the complete package the duo brings to the table.
Note the above are individual accolades, but the team performance was a wholehearted improvement over the lazy effort that was the Frankfurt draw. In almost every meaningful statistic, Bayern Munich progressed leaps and bounds.
Four goals to two. 26 shots to 14. 827 passes completed, a 92% completion rating with 66% possession versus 556 (!), 81% and 62%.
Bayern Munich is far from perfect yet, but this match shows the potential for growth – even if it is with Carlo Ancelotti’s 4-3-3.