Bayern have not lost their touch during the gap and despite missing key players, the Bavarians are on top of their game seeing off a tricky Leverkusen side at the Bay Arena.
Proof of Bayern’s defensive solidity
Bayer Leverkusen started the game with an intent to attack Bayern. They pushed bodies forward and played long counterattacking balls out from their defense. It’s a rare treat to see a Bundesliga team attack and pressure Bayern in such a brave manner.
The counterattacking speed and high pressing from the Leverkusen players were hard to deal with. We saw the defense tested both in terms of stopping pacy counters and also the ability to play out from the back under pressure. It was a huge relief to see how well Bayern defended.
The compactness and the tactical awareness of stopping Leverkusen crosses inside the box instead of stretching the defensive line was a great strategy. It was a well thought out plan of using the superior height and physicality of Niklas Süle and Jérôme Boateng.
The midfield of the Bavarians performed in a league of their own. The pivot of Javi Martínez, the box to box action from Arturo Vidal and the sheer genius of James Rodríguez are pure class.
Somehow, I simply forgot the absence of Thiago, Mats Hummels, and Robert Lewandowski. This midfield did everything. They were extremely active pushing forward during set pieces and attacks. They were throwing themselves, intercepting and retrieving key balls at the back and bossing the game in the center of the pitch. Pep would have been so proud.
Ribéry on fire
After scoring a hattrick in the warm-up friendly a few days back, Frank Ribéry seemed all set and raring to go. Running at the opposition defense every time he got the ball was classic Ribéry. It didn’t always work out, though, considering he has slowed down a bit, but his confidence and a few glimpses of the past gave joy to many.
His goal was brilliant, cutting inside, wrong-footing the defender and scoring at the near post. His understanding with David Alaba is telepathically surreal. Today, most of Bayern’s attacks came down this left flank thanks to Ribéry and Alaba showing us true class.
James, the Colombian gem
I generally tend not to focus on one goal or one moment of brilliance across 90 minutes. Instead, I prefer talking about the game as a whole, but Bayern’s third goal from that James free kick was just so beautiful. It is one of those goals that you would watch over and over again.
The bend, the poise and the precision imparted on that ball were genius. I can say this without a doubt that in world football today, James is probably one of best dead ball/set piece specialists.
Bailey, the future
Whenever I see this young winger, the only thing I can really think of is “how great is he for Bayern?” Not that I’m trying to link Leon Baily to Bavaria, but it has just been so that whenever I look at this talented winger, I think to myself how great will he be alongside Kingsley Coman. He is definitely one player to look out for in the future. He played a brilliant game but lady luck eluded him and so did some of his teammates.