Alternate Awards 2016/17
In a season that offered just little playing time for young players at Bayern, Joshua Kimmich made the most out of his limited opportunities. The 22-year-old participated in a total of 40 matches througout all competitions and played in five different positions.
His all around skill set had been his biggest upside in the previous season as well, when Guardiola made him a regular starter in central defense when Boateng and Martinez were sidelined with injuries. However, Carlo Ancelotti most often used Kimmich as a midfielder, where the Swabian-born delivered his best games as well.
His best series of games this season came in the fall of 2016, when he received regular playing time as a replacement for an injured Xabi Alonso. In this central position Kimmich not only convinced with his very good and flawless passing game, but also by charging into the opponent’s box with perfectly timed runs. This quality, once perfected by the likes of Ballack and Schweinsteiger, allowed him to collect four league goals in five games.
Towards the end of the season and especially in the most important games, Kimmich lost his role as a regular starter and often remained on the bench. This led to a visible decline in his game. In his new role as a right-back next season, it will be up to Ancelotti to put more trust in Kimmich in order to advance his development on the highest level.
We already mentioned the Mats-Hummels-tackle in our article about the newcomer of the season. It was maybe the best defensive tackling witnessed by German soccer enthusiasts in recent years.
In March Bayern face a surprisingly good Frankfurt side at home and after 18 minutes the score was still tied at 0-0. After Müller lost the ball in midfield, Frankfurt suddenly increases the pace of the game. A long ball towards striker Hrgota slides right through Bayern’s last line of defense as Martinez tries to set the forward offside and Hummels prevents just that. The Swede is now alone in front of Neuer, puts the ball by the keeper and just has to kick it in.
But just then Hummels slides to the rescue. The Munich-born has indemnified his positioning mistake from earlier with a full-speed sprint back and in the last second sweeps in to steal the ball from Hrgota’s foot. A tackle that for a defender is the equivalent of a decisive goal in a close match. In the above video just look at the reaction of Manuel Neuer. Normally only championships are celebrated like this by Bayern’s defenders.
Our assist of the season is not from one of Munich’s midfield creators, but from the top scorer himself. In the first leg of Bayern’s round of sixteen clash with Arsenal, the Polish striker set up his only goal in this competition.
About 18 meters infront of the goal Lewandowski, who has his back turned towards the goal, forwards a pass from Alonso with his back heel right through a small opnening in Arsenal’s backline. Because of this strike of genius Thiago is all alone infront of Ospina and nets the ball to make it 3-1. The preliminary decision.
The final game before the winter break could not have been set up better by the DFL. In the last days before christmas Bayern – once more sitting atop the table – welcomed aspiring RB Leipzig who have been promoted to first class German football just that summer. The team from Saxony fascinated the whole league with their offensive approach to football that was lived out by the trio of Keita, Forsberg and Werner.
This game was about more than just the top spot in the league, it was a statement game for Bayern, who wanted to send out a message to all other teams in the Bundesliga. Look, in order to take on Bayern it takes more than just jouvenile joy of playing.
In front of a once more sold out home crowd it became evident from the beginning, that every Bayern player had their mind set on this game. In their own half nearly every challange was won by Munich. The famous Leipzig build-up pressure, which was discussed to length before the match, was nowhere to be seen as Bayern cleverly passed by the attacking opponents fueld by a great staggering in midfield and an outstanding Thiago, who played as a 10 in this match.
On offense the record champion was highly dangerous as well. After 17 minutes Lewandowski hit the post and Thiago netted in the rebound. Just a minute later Costa once more was close to scoring with just the post in his way. Before Leipzig was even able to comprehend what just happened, Alonso scored after Keita had lost the ball in midfield. When Forsberg was sent off for a perilous tackle against Lahm after half an hour, the game was over.
Bayern reeled off the remaining time masterfully and even made it 3-0 as Lewandowski scored from the spot. The second half was marked by more misses from the Polish forward and Ribery, who was subbed in. Not once throughout the 90 minutes was Leipzig allowed a chance at goal. At the very lastest, after this game it was obvious to everyone that in order to win this seasons Bundesliga title one would have to go through Bayern first. The power structure was reestablished.
It was the season of freekick goals from Bayern. Both Lewandowski and Alaba scored several beautiful goals from set pieces. But the goal of the season is one from open play and the award goes to the Brasilian winger.
This day in december at Darmstadt is especially cold. The whole Bayern attack seems to be frozen. At halftime not a single ball was shot at Darmstadt’s goal and after 70 minutes the game is still even at 0-0 against the Lilien who at the end of the season would be relegated from the Bundesliga. Just then Thiago quickly carries out a free-kick in right midfield. Costa gets the ball about 30 yards out, takes to steps and heaves the ball towards the goal where it kisses the underside of the crossbar and from there lands in the back of the net. A picture of this goal might as well be put in a dictionary next to the term “wonder goal”.
This small goof by the otherwise very secure defender has to be included in every look back at the season. The world class central defender balances a mug of coffee on top of a book on his way to the team bus. Suddenly, Hummels loses his poise and all of the coffee spills on his suit. Not only Thomas Müller (see video) was outright laughing after witnessing this scenery.
This award goes to two Bayern players. Two players of world class format saw their career come to an end this sesaon. Both won the Champions League, both were crowned world champion at one point in their career. Xabi Alonso and Philipp Lahm both ended their career on the last matchday in a game against SC Freiburg.
The game was over as Alonso and Lahm left the pitch for the last time and tears shot into the eye of every Bayern supporter. Especially the farewell from the captain and product of the own youth team Lahm will forever be engraved into the mind of Bayern fans as he left the field, hugged by all his teammates, accompanied by chants from the supporters and putting away his own tears.