Under new interim manager Hansi Flick, Bayern Munich demolished rivals Borussia Dortmund 4-0 on Saturday. Even without star central defenders Lucas Hernandez and Niklas Sule, Bayern’s defensive line prevented their opponents from having a single shot on target for the second consecutive game. Many players impressed throughout the match, but the performance of Alphonso Davies at left-back stands out above the rest.
Bayern Should Keep Alphonso Davies at Left-Back
A Star in the Making
When it was announced in the summer of 2018 that Alphonso Davies would join Bayern Munich the following winter, fans responded with a mixture of enthusiasm and apathy. Many saw the then-17-year-old as a bright, young talent, but others were skeptical that he would ever live up to his MLS-record-breaking pricetag.
Just a year-and-a-half later, Davies has become a fan favorite — not only because of his enthusiasm off the pitch but also because of his drive and determination on it. Few would dare to question whether or not Phonzy has the potential to become one of Europe’s elite. However, they might be surprised at the position in which Canada’s young star has given his most promising performances.
Davies is naturally a left-winger. At least, that is the position which he has played for the majority of his career. He has even featured there a few times for Bayern since joining the club just under a year ago. But the 19-year-old’s best performances have all come when he was utilized on the left side of the defense.
A Big Game Showing
By all accounts, Davies’s most impressive showing to date came on Saturday against Borussia Dortmund. Bayern were missing all of Niklas Sule, Lucas Hernandez, and Jerome Boateng. This meant Hansi Flick was forced to field David Alaba in central defense, leaving Alphonso Davies to take over at left-back.
Truth to be told, Davies could have got the nod over Alaba even if Bayern had all their defenders fit. The Canadian had impressed in Bayern’s previous matches against Olympiacos, Eintracht Frankfurt, VfL Bochum, and Union Berlin. But Borussia Dortmund’s attack promised to provide a much sterner test for the inexperienced full-back than any of his prior opponents.
Davies, however, stood strong against everything Der BVB sent his way. With a little help from his partner on the left flank, Kingsley Coman, Phonzy completely shut down any attack Dortmund sent down the right flank through Jadon Sancho, Achraf Hakimi, and Thorgan Hazard — a feat that has proven difficult even for far more experienced defenders.
No player made more tackles than Davies (7), who won 11 of his 13 duels. Not once did a Dortmund attacker dribble past him. His defensive positioning was superb, and he expertly timed each challenge he made for the ball.
The Canadian was equally impressive going forward. He had the highest passing accuracy of all Bayern’s starters, completing 44 of 47 attempted passes. Two of those passes resulted in a shot on goal. Meanwhile, he completed three of his four attempted dribbles. It was truly a well-rounded performance, and Davies is unlucky his hard work was not rewarded with an assist.
More to Come
Alphonso Davies has been at Bayern Munich less than a year, yet he is already proving the club’s decision to show faith in a 17-year-old MLS prospect was a good one. The Canadian may have more experience playing as a winger, but he has plenty of potential to become an elite full-back.
One of Davies’s greatest strengths is his raw athleticism. He is already one of the fastest players in world football, often outpacing Kingsley Coman — who holds the Bundesliga in-game record for fastest sprint speed since data collection — in training. Alongside his pure speed, Davies possesses a great amount of strength, paired with some incredible balance and agility. He is difficult to knock off the ball and great at forcing others off it.
Davies has already shown that his defensive positioning is surprisingly good for such a young, inexperienced player. And, as demonstrated against Dortmund, he is a more than capable ball-winner who knows how to time his tackles. Both of those aspects of his game should only get better and better with age and experience.
Even Phonzy’s weaknesses lend to him being used further back on the pitch. His first touch and close control could certainly use some work. He is not quite technically capable enough to beat the top defenders in Europe if he cannot burn them with his sheer pace.
Davies Must Get More Minutes
Right now, the matter of where he plays is less important than making sure he gets minutes on the pitch. However, Hansi Flick would be doing himself a disservice if he does not continue to deploy the 19-year-old on the left side of Bayern’s defense.
Jerome Boateng will return from his suspension shortly after the upcoming international break. Yet even then, Flick should trust Davies as his first-choice left-back. If this means keeping David Alaba in central defense — or even on the bench — for the time being, then so be it.
Alphonso Davies has shown the potential to be an exceptional left-back for Bayern Munich. Hansi Flick should continue to show faith in the 19-year-old. Who knows, maybe Phonzy will one day be the very best in the position.