Nobody performed to a spectacular level in Bayern’s edging of Leverkusen. Today was a matter of who was less bad.
You’re kidding me, right?
Alonso provided quality in a game that lacked intensity. His passing paved the way for the first goal. You could see him looking up to find the best possible pass, aiming to balance between incisiveness and security. Indeed, Alonso felt uncomfortable with Leverkusen’s fast transitions and quick one-time passing. However, to expect otherwise from him is unrealistic.
The Austrian executed more than a few brilliant overlapping runs. His crossing lacked intent and the precision, but he was always an attacking option. His presence allowed Douglas Costa to have a choice between a one-two or cutting inside. Alaba was solid enough in defence. It is great to see him slowly creeping towards his usual form.
Much like Xabi, Thiago was precise in his passing. It was evident that he wanted to pass through lines and create spaces. Alas, there is only so much one single man can do. It strikes me as brilliant about Thiago is that he will not run into the box often. However, when he does, he will place himself in a goal scoring position. He knew where to be for that rebound he headed towards the net.
Hummels bailed Bayern out with a headed goal from a corner. Overall, he turned in a decent performance, even with a few defensive lapses. Hummels is growing into the red shirt after a less-than-convincing start to the season.
I am undecided as to whether Neuer could have done more against Hakan Çalhanoğlu’s finish. On one hand, Çalhanoğlu aimed at the near post, which is always goalkeeper territory. On the other, he shot with power and aimed high. A perfect antidote against an incoming keeper.
Still, debating aside, Neuer was confident enough and provided the usual safety.
Predictably, Martínez offered a lacklustre display. He spent a lot of time on the ground, in pain [editor’s note: and faking it]. Still, he managed to cover the central defence decently enough. Could have been called for a penalty late in the game.
Tommy failed to score, but he looked fresher on the pitch. He moved interestingly to the back when the full-backs ran towards the endline. Some encouraging signs of progress here, even if the manager lined him up on the right again. The best bit was seeing him smile after the game was over.
What? Kimmich? Average? I realise I might come across as sacrilegious, but Josh did not do too well. The will to play and be determinant was there. He ran into the box often, overlapped Müller constantly and offered himself as a passing option. Unfortunately, the performance proved to be unequal to the intention.
Look, Costa knows what he wants to do. He knows where he wants to go and why he wants to go there. Right now, it seems like there is a disconnect between what he sees in his head and what he executes. Also, I think that the fact that he played on the left instead of the right added a level of difficulty. Costa showed a couple of glimmers of hope and lucidity. He managed to get a couple of decent crosses in. However, he was nowhere near his usual level of dynamism.
The captain’s slump in form is well documented and saddening. Even though he turned in a 96% passing accuracy rate, he did not show many signs of improvement. Maybe he was uncomfortable in a midfield position. Maybe Leverkusen’s aggressive pressing exacerbated that discomfort. Still, it was nothing for the history books.
Robben always has a positive, do-it-yourself attitude towards the game. However, his efforts failed to yield what sometimes are spectacular results in this occasion. Today, he took one or two touches too many in situations that could have resulted in clear chances. Hopefully he will inject the team with some joy as he gains fitness and gametime.
Oddly enough, no one was terrible.
Arturo Vidal and Franck Ribéry.