review

Bayern’s 2016 in review, with heroes and villains

The year 2016 was not exempt of drama and epic moments. The Bayern Central staff offer you a review in collaboration with Onefootball.

Best XI

best xi

Best player

This is a tie between Thiago Alcântara and Arturo Vidal says Michel. Vidal’s work in central midfield gave life to FC Bayern throughout the calendar year, standing taller than more any other individual player. His absence in some games greatly contributed to subpar team performances.

However, Thiago Alcantara had a mammoth of a first half, finishing with his best game as a master playmaker in Bayern’s dismantling of RB Leipzig. His contribution has been instrumental to the revitalisation of the team after a cold spell in October and November. (Michel)

Manager

Pep Guardiola, says Shubham. In many ways, the comprehensive victory over RB Leipzig reflected Pep Guardiola’s contribution to Bayern. A technical, tactical, attacking philosophy coupled with a pro-active mentality that blew away Bundesliga teams for three years.

The all-too known flipside to this front-foot style is the lack of a back-foot. The Leipzig win, as well as Hinrunde in general, has shown new manager Carlo Ancelotti’s willingness to continue with Guardiola’s vision. He now has to attend to issues with it, foremost among them being Thomas Muller’s role. For mostly good (and some bad) reasons, Bayern remains a Pep team.

Moment

Being a Bayern fan can be more frustrating than most football observers imagine. Comparisons between stellar coaches cause bitter arguments. The team has underperformed in key games in recent years and the Bundesliga’s first place evaded them for a few weeks.

For this reason, a snapshot of the situation 30 minutes in during the 3:0 win against Leipzig in December has to be the most satisfying moment of the year, says Michel. RB Leipzig are two goals down, their game plan has gone down the drain. They receive a red card. FCB are not only dominant: the players look hungry again. This is very promising ahead of the second half of the season.

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2016 review

Game

FC Bayern’s second leg comeback against Juventus

These last few years have been relatively free of drama outside of the Champions League, says Scott. Nothing from last season was more dramatic, or memorable, than the return leg against Juventus. With the Italian champions grabbing two first half goals, it looked like Bayern were dead in the water. Between curse words, many spoke about being reminded of Bayern falling flat on their faces at home in the crucial second leg of the 2014 UCL semi-final against Real Madrid, in Pep Guardiola’s first season as manager.

Against the odds, Bayern put together a dynamic second half in which they dodged several bullets from Juventus (another Juve goal would have meant the Bavarians would need four goals in regular time) to force extra time with the aggregate score tied at 2:2. Robert Lewandowski headed in a Kinglsey Coman cross on 72’, almost by sheer force of will. Another Coman cross found the head of Thomas Müller at the death to force extra time, sending the home crowd into a frenzy one scarcely sees at the typically corporate, emotionally removed Allianz Arena.

If Müller’s goal sent the crowd into a frenzy, then Thiago and Coman’s goals in extra time sent them into delirium. Truthfully, it was Müller who won the game for FC Bayern. He carried every ounce of that momentum into extra time. As a fan of the club, this was the sort of match that elicits every possible emotion from you: from surprise at the first goal against, to anger at the second, leaving the entirety of half-time to stew and become progressively angrier at the prospect of yet another wasted Champions League campaign. The goals in extra time were only celebrated by words that aren’t fit for print. Well, and alcohol.

Disappointment

Thomas Müller, says Shubham. Bayern’s favorite son has not had an enjoyable 2016. Seven Bundesliga goals in the calender year, only one of them this season, makes for grim reading. Add to this the uncharacteristic penalty misses against Atletico Madrid and Italy at the Euro, and one can only hope it is nothing more than a really prolonged confidence issue.

The 2016-17 performances against Borussia Mönchengladbach and RB Leipzig have re-emphasized the premonition that Bayern function better without Müller. Germany’s star forward needs to up his game to remain an automatic starter.

Come on Thomi!

Hero

Thiago, says Michel. His winning goal against Juventus in the Champions League Round of 16, second leg, in March may not have been the prettiest goal ever, but it was a significant effort.

I was at the Allianz Arena for that game, sharing the crowd’s despair earlier in the game. Two goals forced extra time. Then, Thiago executed a simple but accurate give-and-go with Thomas Müller, with a run in the box and low shot that beat the incredible Gianluigi Buffon to his left. It was magic.

Villain

Mario Götze, says Michel. Once seen as Germany’s next superstar, he turned into a guy whose career at top-flight level may have depended on Bundestrainer Joachim Löw’s tendency to trust “his” players. Götze failed to impress in Munich, not being able to match the now surprisingly fragile Thomas Müller’s performances.

In addition, Götze bitched publicly about the club after leaving for Dortmund to earn the Villain badge. Perhaps he should have spent more time working on fitness than taking breakfast selfies.

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