This week saw Manuel Neuer, Leroy Sane, Correntin Tolisso, Dayot Upamecano and Tanguy Nianzou all return in some compacity. The lineup was fairly similar to the one that faced Borussia eight days earlier but with two exceptions. Neuer returned to goal and Tolisso played the second Midfield position next to Marc Roca. The defense was comprised of Joshua Kimmich, Benjamin Pavard, Niklas Süle and Marcel Sabitzer while the attack saw Serge Gnabry, Thomas Müller, Jamal Musiala and Robert Lewandowski start the match.
While this was still a fairly decimated side, Bayern looked much better than they did the week earlier. From the get go, they controlled the game as Köln surprisingly allowed the Bavarians space to work. As a result, it would only take nine minutes for Bayern to get on the board thanks to Lewandowski and Müller.
Lewandowski picked up a loose ball, passed to Müller to start the break and then sprinted into the box where the ball was played back to him and he blasted past the helpless keeper 0-1. While this was the point when Bayern’s fortunes turned the previous week, they did not take their foot off the gas in this match.
Sabitzer drove down the field and put in a cross to Tolisso who headed forward to Müller in the box. The German then side footed it to the Frenchman who took one touch and then hit off the bounce into the top corner 0-2. It was a fantastic goal and a reminder of how special Tolisso can be around the box.
Köln arguably had the better of the remainder of the first half but Bayern might have had the best chance as five red shirts pinged the ball around the 6 yard box and they somehow failed to score with the last effort coming from Müller. Mark Uth had a goal that was ruled offsides as well but while Köln looked dangerous at times, they failed to capitalize on those chances.
The Second half would start with a bit of back and forth before Sane and Lewandowski took over. Having just replaced Musiala on the left wing, Leroy sane took the ball in the middle of the pitch dribbled forward and slid a pass to Lewandowski who dinked it over the keeper 0-3.
Just ten minutes later the two would connect again as Sane received the ball near the halfway line, dribbled his way to the box and again slid in a pass to Lewandowski who casually put it in the back of the net for his hattrick and also his 300th career Bundesliga goal 0-4.
At the risk of sounding far more disrespectful to Malik Tillman than I intend, the addition of Corentin Tolisso to the midfield drastically improved Bayern’s squad on Saturday. Just adding this one player allowed Bayern to field players in far more natural positions made up with entirely first team players while leaving only Sabitzer in a foreign position.
The continuity was much better as the players had a much better instinct for the others movements and play. Even Sabitzer looked slightly more comfortable in his temporary home at left back in this match than the previous, though that’s not surprising given how lost he looked the first time around.
Still moving Musiala forward and inserting Tolisso in the midfield solidified the team far more than I think we might have suspected. Add to that the return of Neuer and there was a much more confident sense to the team this week.
It’s almost hilarious to think that a player as decorated and revered as Thomas Müller could be overlooked but I think we are all guilty of this at times. Lewandowski has been so good the last few years that it’s become difficult to see past his blinding light.
However, Müller needs to garner more attention as well. His form since Niko Kovac left has been nothing short of spectacular. We are currently two matches into the Rückrunde and Müller is already on 18 Bundesliga assists this season. That is four away from his own Bundesliga record set a year ago with 13 matches left.
We all know just how special he is. We all know that he’s one of the greatest Bayern players ever. He has achieved nearly everything there is to achieve in football. Yet we still take him for granted. At least I know I do. So while I may do so again in the future, I wanted to at least take this opportunity to shower him with praise.
Lewandowski and Bayern as a whole would not have scored nearly as many goals as they have over the last two and half season without Müller in this form. He’s been nothing short of incredible and the statistics since the 2019/20 season support this: 59 Bundesliga assists (70 in all competitions) while adding 24 goals (37 in all competitions) in 84 (124) matches. Over three years he is contributing basically one goal contribution a game in the Bundesliga and a healthy 0.86 in all matches. Legend.
Another day another milestone. We have reached the point where this blog is starting to feel like a personal fanboy page for Lewandowski. Every week he seems to be adding to his legacy. Remember when we used to be impressed when he would reach 30 goals in a season? Yeah, me neither. Now I’m only impressed if he’s on the strong side of 35.
In all seriousness though, what more can I say about this man. He is once again running away with the Torjägerkanone leading by five goals to second place Patrik Schick on an imporessive 18 goals and is eight ahead of third place Erling Haaland on 15.
As mentioned earlier, Lewandowski added to his illustrious career by scoring his 300th career Bundesliga goal. He is now 65 behind Gerd Müller who is the all time top scorer. While he still has a lot of work to do to reach that number, it’s starting to look possible even at the age of 33.
Even if you’re being conservative, it’s not hard to imagine Lewandowski scoring another 10-12 goals this season. In that case if he averaged 20 for the next 3 seasons, he would break that record. While that might be a bit much to ask, he has shown no signs of slowing down and given how zealous he is in his training regimen and the vast skills at his disposal, playing at a high level till the age of 36 does not seem completely unreasonable.
Anyways, that’s for the future. Bayern have another full week to get players back and into shape before traveling to Berlin to take on Hertha. Hopefully the worst is behind us regarding positive cases and Nagelsmann can really get the team into shape for the business end of the season.