Mr. Super Cup wins Bayern the UEFA Super Cup
Most experts and even many fans (especially in Germany) don’t really think much of the UEFA Super Cup, but one thing is for sure: The players absolutely did care for this trophy. The match itself might not have been that enthralling from a technical point of view, but it was brimming intensity. Both teams fought for their lives, showing everybody that this was anything but a pre-season match.
Ocampos got Sevilla the early lead with a penalty after Alaba “fouled” Ivan Rakitić. It was the first signal that Anthony Taylor wasn’t about to become Bayern’s new favourite referee, as the call was very controversial. Alaba absolutely did push Rakitić a bit but refs usually don’t even call that a foul in the Bundesliga, let alone in a European final.
Sevilla continued fighting and running their lungs out but Bayern wasn’t poor, either. Following a couple of chances Goretzka ultimately got the deserved equalizer. Müller put in a wonderful cross with the outside of his boot (where are the people laughing the man can’t really play ball?), Lewandowski showed supreme instincts and laid it off for Goretzka, who capped off one of his signature runs into the box.
Bayern remained on top for the remaining 60 minutes, even scored twice, but had both goals disallowed. The second of which was a real stinger as Taylor’s call was very questionable.
Just like in 2013, the UEFA Super Cup went into extra time and just like in 2013 Javi Martínez gave Bayern the title. Sevilla’s keeper played a fabulous game, but made a crucial mistake after a corner. Bono punched the ball forward gifting Martínez the chance to Edge it out with a picture-perfect header.
There were still 15 minutes to be played, but as Sevilla was totally out of steam, the game was practically over. Just like that, Bayern won their second UEFA Super Cup!
You have to wonder if some Bundesliga coaches were looking at this match with a certain amazement, realizing that ultimately a weaker team actually can put the pressure on this Bayern side. Bundesliga sides are quick to just put the hands in the air, lamenting how good Bayern is, how much money they have, that there just is no way you could compete with them. Sevilla showed just how untrue that is. They’re an extraordinarily well-coached side that plays with intensity and believes in themselves. They fight for their lives but never forget that this is still a game of football, that football is meant to be played. They combine physical strength with technical prowess. You can’t win against this Bayern-side without getting your hands dirty but at the same time you can’t win just relying on purely athletic feats, you have to actually play football.
If there is one single take away from the game, then it’s that Salihamidžić and his team still has some work to do. In the Lisbon tournament everybody was raving how strong Bayern’s bench was, today we saw how much has changed. Without Perišić, Coutinho, Thiago and Coman things were looking dire. Leroy Sané obviously can’t play a full 90 or 120 minutes after being out for a year but Flick only had Tolisso and Davies to bring on. Ultimately the bench won Bayern the game in a way with Martínez scoring but you can’t rely on young teenagers in a European final, no wonder Flick didn’t want to bring Musiala, Tillman or Zirkzee on.
Bayern had many good performances. For long stretches of the game, Kimmich bossed the midfield, controlling everything within his grasp, Müller continued where he left off in Lisbon (although he definitely should’ve scored that one chance in the 22nd minute) and Lucas Hernández showed his composure, fighting on the left-hand side for every ball while usually winning these duels. With how good he was on this night and how shaky Alaba has been, Flick just might try him out in the centre of the park again, you can’t really take him out the team now.
Ultimately though, the heroes of 2020 are not that dissimilar from the heroes of 2013. Neuer saving Lukaku’s penalty gave Bayern the cup seven years ago, and today he was even more decisive. Oliver Kahn always talks how difficult it is for a Bayern keeper not having to do anything for long stretches of the game but then being ready to save the one chance the opponents get. Manuel Neuer might have perfected this craft as for most of the game he was more occupied with passing to his defenders than with saving any shots. But when the time came and Bayern called for him to do so, he got on the ground and showed his world-class ability. Twice even. Both times against En-Nesyri. We are long past the times when people were wondering if Neuer was past it and are indeed back where we were before Neuer’s tragic injuries.
Like only very few goal-keepers before him, he radiates composure that seems to ruin any striker’s confidence. He made the first save in the 87th minute look so easy with how long he took to get on the ground when it was anything but that. In fact it is getting frightening just how good Neuer always is in finals, even if he hasn’t played his best season, when silverware is on the line, Neuer is always there. Be it the Champions League final of 2013, 2020, multiple DFB-Pokals or now the second UEFA Super Cup, Neuer hasn’t just won trophies with Bayern, he won Bayern trophies. many, many trophies.
And then there’s Javi Martínez. Javi “past his prime” Martínez. Javi “finished” Martínez. No no no, it’s Javi “Super Cup” Martínez.
It’s almost cheesy just how on the nose this story-line is. He didn’t play a major role in Bayern’s treble-winning summer. Wanted out. Didn’t even make it on the pre-season photo-shoot. Was all but gone and then gets a surprise call-up for the squad. Gets subbed in and of course gets the winner. Who else could win Bayern their second UEFA Super Cup if not the very player, who scored that famous equalizer at the death in Prague all those years ago? Javi Martínez was a great servant of the club and will now likely bid his farewell. His arrival marked the most successful era of the club and as this has likely been his last game, it’s only fitting that he leaves with silverware. Silverware he himself was won for the club.