It was both a match to remember and a match to forget, depending on the perspective from which it was viewed. Courtesy of some spectacular finishing, Bayern Munich thrashed Tottenham 7-2 in their own stadium on Tuesday. In doing so, Bayern Munich proved themselves genuine contenders for the Champions League title for the first time in many seasons.
Bayern Munich Proved Themselves Champions League Contenders
North London is Roten
Bayern Munich have historically enjoyed their visits to North London, so Tuesday’s result is not too surprising. Usually, however, it is Tottenham’s cross-town rivals Arsenal who suffer the wrath of the German giants. Just three seasons ago, Bayern defeated Arsene Wenger’s side 5-1 at the Emirates.
Not to be outdone by their nemeses, Tottenham went one further and lost by a five-goal margin at home to the Bavarians. North London is certainly red at the moment, but it was not the Gunners who made it so.
In all fairness, the incredible 7-2 scoreline is not totally indicative of how the match played out. Tottenham went into half-time down a goal, but they were undoubtedly disappointed not to be level at least.
But a smart halftime substitution from Niko Kovac, a historical display from former Arsenal man Serge Gnabry, and a complete capitulation from the Tottenham defense all combined to see Die Roten run their opponents ragged in the second half.
Serge Gnabry Steals the Spotlight in a Fine Team Display
Was there ever any question who would steal the show in Tuesday’s game? Serge Gnabry, the young man once deemed not good enough for Arsenal’s first team, was always going to show his former club exactly what they are missing out on against their fiercest rivals.
Nevertheless, the manner in which Gnabry ripped apart the Tottenham defense remains impressive. His movement was smart, his touch spectacular. He drove towards the goal each time he touched the ball, and his finishing was perfect. With four goals and an assist to his name, Gnabry’s was as flawless a performance as will be witnessed this season.
But the 24-year-old did not do it all on his own. He was surrounded by a corps of midfielders and forwards who all combined for an exceptional team exhibition. Robert Lewandowski finished two chances of his own with pinpoint precision. Philippe Coutinho, though a bit more subdued than in recent weeks, was the creative fulcrum for Bayern going forward.
Thiago Alcantara has struggled as part of a double pivot this season, but that was not the case on Tuesday. Niko Kovac’s decision to bring him in for left-back David Alaba at half-time proved a stroke of genius. Joshua Kimmich shifted to right-back, Benjamin Pavard to left-back, and Thiago grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck in midfield.
As poor as Tottenham were on Tuesday, it is rare a team so handily overcomes the prior season’s Champions League finalists in their own stadium. By winning 7-2, Bayern made a clear statement to the rest of Europe. They are real contenders for the continent’s biggest trophy this season.
Bayern Munich Proved Themselves Contenders
Bayern Munich have all the parts to, at the very least, make a solid run in the tournament’s later rounds. Robert Lewandowski now has 14 goals in nine games this season and does not look like slowing down anytime soon. Though initially a “Plan B” option this summer, Philippe Coutinho has taken to his new club like a fish to water. The little Brazilian has elevated this team to a whole new level.
On the flanks, Serge Gnabry has recently reached and exceeded his great form of last season. Kingsley Coman, meanwhile, has given glimpses of what he is truly capable of as well. Like Coutinho, Ivan Perisic has thus far exceeded expectations. 18-year-old Alphonso Davies is growing more and more comfortable with each passing match.
Kovac is spoiled for choice in midfield, but Joshua Kimmich has firmly established himself as the Croatian’s first pick in the double pivot. Corentin Tolisso and Thiago Alcantara have both struggled at times and excelled at others. Once one of the pair, or perhaps even the currently-injured Leon Goretzka, find some real form, Kovac may have prime partnership in the middle settled.
Defensively, Bayern are sound but still a work-in-progress. Lucas Hernandez is already beginning to justify his impressive €80 million pricetag. Niklas Sule is slowly crawling out of his early-season rut and developing a great partnership at the back with Hernandez.
With Kimmich in midfield, Benjamin Pavard has proven more than capable at right-back. The Frenchman has given some sound displays in central defense as well. When fit, David Alaba is still one of the best left-backs in the world.
And, as he proved with several impressive saves on Tuesday, Manuel Neuer is still among the world’s best goalkeepers.
Veterans Thomas Muller and Javi Martinez are still fighting to make their way into Kovac’s starting XI. The same is true for youngsters Fiete Arp and Michael Cuisance. They offer good rotation options at multiple positions, providing some needed competition within the squad in the meantime.
Keep an Eye on The Bavarians
Some still may doubt Niko Kovac’s merit as Bayern manager. And some will still point to the club’s relative lack of depth in certain areas as a danger sign. But no team is perfect. And the Bavarians are far more well-rounded than they have been for a few seasons.
Some stiff competition in the Bundesliga this season will ensure the Rekordmeister stay at their absolute best year-round. They should come into each stage of the Champions League sharp, ready to devour whoever is placed before them.
If they keep up their current development, the Bavarian giants could soon become a force to be reckoned with in Europe once again. However, their 7-2 smashing of Tottenham on Tuesday suggests that possibility may have already become a reality.