The best team in Germany showed their relentless appetite on a night where Bayer Leverkusen felt they really had a chance to progress to Berlin. Sven Ulreich and Thomas Müller epitomized these traits in a thumping 6:2 victory at the Bay Arena.
Goodness me, Sven. I am fully convinced that Sven Ulreich should take Bayern all the way into the end of this season. The Heynckes’ boost and new contract really have transformed this man into a beast that I would not yet exchange for the returning Manuel Neuer.
Sven had a great start to the game as well, staying calm and cool-headed after a frantic and heated first few minutes. He pulled off a decent save from a Kevin Volland header after an early Leverkusen counterattack. He also stayed alert after Lars Bender again took a shot in the box after 31 minutes, pulling off another save to save Bayern’s early defensive blushes. This continued, and the hosts would have pulled level, had the German not swiftly gone down to make a fantastic save from a Bellarabi shot. He repeated this feat at the resumption of the second half, pulling off a double save to prevent the equalizer.
Cheers also on his 50th Bayern appearance.👏🏽
No fuss, no frills. Just goals.
I have absolutely no words to describe the Captain’s shift in this game. He was just perfect in front of goal, burying a super-duper hat-trick in front of Leverkusen’s ultras in Müllered fashion. That was his first dreierpack since November 2014 against Frankfurt, and he did it all with that smile on his face. Two of his goals were assisted by the marvelous Thiago, whose long pass for Müller’s third goal was netherworldly.
Another Excellent rating.
The Spaniard was having an average game, misplacing a few passes and not being as sharp in both attack and defense, until the 52nd minute. He sprinkled his weekly magic on a throughpass to Player of the Month nominee, Thomas Müller. The Captain took down the ball with a glorious first touch, and buried home for the third goal for Bayern. The pass really was sublime, and it gave Bayern certain breathing space in a tight match. He further got onto a loose ball after Arjen Robben slipped during a chance, and Thiago did justice by giving Bernd Leno no chance. He slotted home the coolest finish you’ll see all week, laying the red carpet for Bayern’s trip to Berlin.
The Frenchman has been en fuego since he’s been playing more regularly, and he was not slowing down in this tie. His mazy runs caught Leverkusen off-guard several times and created several chances for the attack. He picked up an early assist after merely nine minutes, crossing into the box for Lewy to tap home a good goal. His work on the night, especially in the absence of his telepathy with David Alaba, was nothing short of brilliant.
The still black-eyed Pole started the game like the goalscorer he really is. He got into a smart and liberated position to volley a well-worked Franck Ribéry cross into the back of the net. That was his 38th goal of the season, and his 24th in 36 games in the Pokal. It gave Bayern a much-desired lead after just nine minutes. He was physical and showed his hunger for most of the game.
It was déjà vu for Javi again away to Leverkusen. He scored the first goal in this same tie in the league back in January, and he did same in this clutch semi-final. His goal showed how trophy-hungry Bayern have become in this business end of the season after just three minutes. After Jérôme Boateng hit a King Boa cross into the box, Javi fired in a wonderfully unexpected curler into the right corner. His midfield duties left absolutely nothing to be desired, showing how wrong Spain are if they are not scheming to take him on the plane to Russia.
Mr. Save The Day came on to replace David Alaba at half-time, and much like he has done this month, stabilized things at the back. He made energized runs into the attack, he opened up the opposition defense and created the chance for Bayern’s third goal. He was rewarded with an assist for a Robben shot that cannoned off Müller for another goal.
Boateng delivered an amazing cross into the box that led to Javi’s early goal. With the frenetic start from the opposition, I would really credit Boateng for holding down the fort at the back, since he even pulled off a block in the lead up to Bender’s goal. He was not at his best though, as Leverkusen were afforded too many attacking chances.
Kimmich endured a very busy first half, from having to deal with rapid counterattacks to getting fouled severally en route to many attacks from the right flank. He was largely unfelt in the second half, but did fairly well defensively and offensively.
The Dutchman was palpably outperformed by his Robbery cohort, Franck Ribéry. He lost the ball several times, and barely contributed anything noteworthy to the attack. He took a few shots that were off target (though not by much). The clinical nature of the attack made him look better than he was, even though his speed constantly had Leverkusen’s defense on guard. His near-goal shot was deflected into the goal by Müller, denying him a certain appearance on the score sheet. He also came close in the 86th minute with a long-range strike which was parried out for a corner.
It was another bad start for the German, as he was caught in sixes and sevens after a Julian Brandt set-piece. Hummels’ missed clearance afforded Lars Bender a scrappy header to pull one goal back for the hosts. Clearly the new haircut mojo did not work in the beginning, but he did pick himself back up afterwards, as has been the trend for the past few weeks. He blocked a Kai Havertz shot in the last attack before half-time, a timely intervention given how regrettably that attack could have ended up.
After an electric game last weekend, Alaba could not quite get the juices flowing in this semi-final. He struggled to place any dangerous crosses, or create anything concrete with the in-form Ribéry. He was subbed off at the half for my Player of the Month nominee, Rafinha.
Yeah, you read that right.
Starke, Bernat, James, Süle, Wagner.