The final international break of the footballing season is over, and it is time to look at how Bayern’s stars performed when called upon by their respective nations. There were a few standout stars among the lot.
Overall, twelve Bayern players made appearances, playing a lot of minutes on average. Germany, of course, had the most Bavarians on hand, with as many as half of the entire number on international duty.
A few notable names were not called up though, with Javi Martínez being the surprise miss. Another noteworthy name, Kingsley Coman, probably would have played for France had he been fit. Here is the breakdown in full.
Germany called upon the core essence of Bayern’s back line in their matches against Spain and Brazil. It was encouraging to see the likes of Jérôme Boateng, Mats Hummels, Niklas Süle and Joshua Kimmich facing off in a potential World Cup fixture against such blockbuster opponents. David Alaba also was a shining light for his native Austria against Slovenia in the other fixture.
The boy from Berlin put in a good performance against the intricacies of Spain’s attack in the first of two games. Although he succeeded in none of his aerial duels, he did enjoy the most touches in the German side, tying at 75 with Joshua Kimmich. He had a high passing accuracy rate of 91%.
In the next game against Brazil, Boateng fulfilled a boyhood dream by leading out the Germans in Berlin as captain for the first time in his career. He was subbed off in that game to make way for Niklas Süle after picking up a slight knock. His passing was superb in that match, but his loose positioning and awareness gifted Gabriel Jesus a free header for a 0:1 Brazil win in a dull match.
Hummels played singularly against Spain, a game in which he gifted Rodrigo Moreno an easy path to goal to continue his streak of recently lacklustre performances. He had a free header in the second half which could have snatched the win for the world champions. Instead, his header clipped the tip of the crossbar and went over, another continuation of his goalless heading streak.
It was a less-than-stellar international break for Mats, and he clearly has work to do for the remainder of the season.
The most eye-catching and noteworthy moment of Süle’s international duty was a pinpoint, accurate, and last-ditch super tackle on Brazil’s Douglas Costa. The winger had broken free en route to help double Brazil’s solo lead in Berlin, when Süle hastily and unexpectedly caught up with him to snuff out the opportunity.
He had come on to replace Jérôme Boateng on the night and caught eyes worldwide with that piece of defensive excellence. His passing accuracy was a high 91%, as per usual, and he looked comfortable enough to shine in Russia.
Rounding up our quartet of German Bayern defenders is the German Footballer of the Year, who duly received his honour on the field before the first game versus Spain. Kimmich was shaky in that match, and his performance against Brazil hardly improved upon that from a defensive perspective.
We have hammered on this point for so long: if Kimmich’s defensive work does not match his attacking prowess, he will struggle to be rated as the best in his position. Nonetheless, he has now played full minutes in his last 26 (!) matches for the German national team. Here’s to hoping that experience gained will solidify his standing in the coming years at FC Bayern.
Alaba broke his recent free-kick barrenness by placing a well-curled, dipping kick into the goal for Austria. He played in midfield and was the best-rated player on the pitch. He opened the scoring in under 15 minutes to hit the ground running for a comfortable 3:0 victory against Slovenia. He did not play against Luxembourg in the subsequent 0:4 win for his national side. He rather jetted back to Munich for quick preparations for the soon-to-resume business end of the season.
He and James Rodríguez subsequently made their way onto the FIFA 18 Team of the Week after very good displays, a nice bonus.
Thiago Alcântara, James Rodríguez, Arturo Vidal and Corentin Tolisso represented FCB on the international stage in midfield. They all thankfully played a lot of minutes with the exception of Tolisso, who was only coming back after a shin injury suffered against Hamburg.
Thiago’s chances for a World Cup spot were well boosted after his showing in matches against Germany and Argentina. Bayern’s magician played well against the Germans, helping the Spaniards assume control with top-notch passing. In his second game, he scored a well-taken goal after Iago Aspas has set him up with a pass to finish in a 6:1 obliterating of Argentina.
He has certainly enjoyed minutes for La Roja, and the passion he celebrated his goal with should be telling of good form to follow for Bayern’s resuming season.
Colombia pegged back and defeated France after going two goals down, partly due to an excellent performance from their no.10. He created the chance for Luis Muriel to pull one goal back, before assisting Falcao to equalize in the second half. His new Bavarian efficiency propelled him to a star performance, where he was rightly rated the best player on the pitch. He was subbed off in the 83rd minute.
In their second game, however, he captained Colombia as they could not find a way past a compact Australian defense in London. He left the pitch after 83 minutes, a good sign of his match fitness.
Arturo reached the 100-cap milestone for his country with a goal to secure the win against Sweden. He then played 82 minutes in Chile’s goalless draw with Denmark in the final game. With Chile’s inability to make it to Russia this summer, Vidal played well and avoided injury to be able to fully focus on winning with Bayern.
Coco made his comeback for his home nation in a 1:3 victory in St. Petersburg against hosts, Russia. He replaced N’Golo Kante in the 66th minute and held midfield duties well to see out a routine win for Les Bleus. It was a good run-out for Tolisso, as he is now fully available for FC Bayern’s tough upcoming schedule.
Thomas Müller, Robert Lewandowski and Sandro Wagner were on the pitch, scoring goals and coming close on several occasions. This was especially the case for Lewandowski in his game against Nigeria, where Poland lost 0:1 at home to a Victor Moses penalty.
Müller made all the headlines in the first game against Spain. After Germany had conceded the first goal early on in the game, the team became less than clinical in its attacking efficiency. Sami Khedira then slid the ball to Müller in the 35th minute, who did the unexpected by curling the ball beyond David de Gea’s reach to notch the equalizer. It was the brightest spot of the game for the Germans, as the game died down to a slow finish afterwards. He was subbed off in the second half and did not play against Brazil.
Sandro “the best German striker” Wagner came off the bench to replace Mario Gómez in the second half against Brazil and had a couple of header opportunities that he missed out on. Germany’s attack was quite blunt on the night in Berlin, and both Gómez and Wagner hardly had anything to work with up front.
Poland’s legend endured a taste of national defeat at home to Nigeria. He had hit the post earlier in the game and was involved in many of the home side’s attacks, but was subbed off in the 67th minute. In the next game, however, he was on target as usual in a 3:2 win against South Korea in Chorzow. He completed his international assignment after being subbed off after the first period of that match.
Overall, Bayern’s midfield department put in the most impressive performance, scoring and assisting goals, along with boosting their respective teams to decent results. As per the defensive showing, better could be expected, as I personally hope for a turnaround in Mats Hummels’ recent shifts. The attack was clinical, as Müller and Lewandowski both were on score sheets.
With Bayern pushing on all fronts to secure three trophies this season, it will need all these top guns to be at their utmost best. The relief that no injuries were picked up by any of the players gives new life to the hope of a strong finish to the season for the Reds.