Poise is an intangible asset in football, but few things are more important to make skills shine. This year’s edition of FC Bayern has so much of it that winning the Champions League is well within reach.
The second leg in the Round of 16 could have been challenging due to injuries in the squad. Joshua Kimmich had to revert to right-back for the injured Benjamin Pavard, making way for Thiago in the midfield. Ivan Perišić started on the left wing for Kingsley Coman.
Hansi Flick made the best of the situation by putting together a lineup and formation that tightened the grip on Chelsea to win this tie without being truly threatened at any point.
Bayern’s poise showed throughout that second leg, making it impossible for the English side to stage a comeback. Defensive pressing choked them. Control at the back was on point. Alphonso Davies’ and Kimmich versatility gave Perišić and Thomas Müller the luxury of mixing up positions.
Robert Lewandowski was clinical on the penalty shot that made Bayern go up 4:0 on aggregate, and the team never really looked back. That includes moments of complacency and conceding a silly goal late in the first half. The [begin sarcasm] honourable [end sarcasm] representatives of the “best league in the world” were never stood a chance although they did fight hard enough to prevent an Arsenal-like humbling. I mean, 7:1 is better than 10:2, right?
All of this is very positive. Best performance of the match? Perhaps that of Leon Goretzka. He piloted the midfield energetically – making him the target of hard challenges – alongside a very efficient Thiago who played the defensive role.
The midfield often makes or breaks matches in football, and this area of the Bavarian juggernaut is at its strongest in years. Bayern fans should celebrate that fact.
Despite the coronavirus delays, 2020 is a great time to be a Bayern fan. This team has the “oomph” factor that is so important to win the Champions League. A second treble in less than a decade is entirely plausible as long as they don’t surprisingly collapse.
We should remain strategically pessimistic, but we have something special to look forward to watching in the coming weeks.