Summer-Round-Up: Vidal wins the Copa
In the summer round-up we’ll keep you up to date every week with Bayern’s national players.
Starting with some sad news. The round of 16 vs. Italy was the conclusion to a season that had its ups and downs for our Spaniard. Just like in the second leg of the season with Bayern Munich, Thiago was still searching for a steady performance. His highlight of the season must be the Champions League game vs. Juventus Turin in which he contributed big time as a substitute scoring the 3-2. He is already 25 years old and maybe fighting his hardest battle, performance wise. Over and over again he had to suffer from major setback, in terms of injures, since he joined Bayern three years ago. But those cannot count as an explanation for the current loss of efficacy in his game. The last injury dates back to December. Even in competition to Cesc Fabregas, who plays far behind his standards, he missed out on a starting position at the Spanish national team. His former teammate, at Barcelona, failed to dominate the Spanish game and Thiago, who at the beginning was the first choice of replacement, could not play convincingly enough to commend himself for future task throughout the tournament. Maybe just like Alaba the early exit of the Spanish national team is an opportunity for him, to relax and refocus on the upcoming season with Bayern Munich. He has to proof himself again under the reign of Carlo Ancelotti, who will be the first coach not called Pep Guardiola for Thiago in his professional life. Maybe the most important stage of his career starts right now. Thiago reaches his peak age and needs to find some kind consistency.
The joy Kingsley Coman shows on the pitch easily transfers over to the people watching him. We cannot get tired of pointing out how much fun we have to see the 20 year old perform on such a high level, over and over again. At the moment he is not responsible for scoring goals or even assisting (yet), but there is something in his style of play that contributes big time to the French national team. After trailing to Ireland in the first half, Didier Dechamps brought on Coman, which changed the game massively. At first he seemed to be invisible, but his positioning as well as the connections he created improved the flexibility overall. However the man-of-the-match awards belong to Antoine Griezmann (two goals) and Olivier Grioud (one exceptional assist). In the end Coman was able to contribute with four key passes as well as three successful dribblings and 45 touches within the second half. Just before the game finished Dechamps was forced to replace him due to an ankle injury, which will luckily not cause any problems in the quarter-finals.
In contrast Robert Lewandowski’s record looks rather bleak. Four games, six key passes and eight shots in total while four of them were taken outside of the box are not the numbers we are usually talking about when Robert is the subject of the discussion. At first sight it seems unlikely, but Lewandowski is playing well at the Euros. Due to his qualities in terms of positioning and passing in combination with the attention he usually draws from the opposing defenders, Lewandowski is able to contribute in unusual ways to his national team. Furthermore he managed to convert the first penalty, under a lot of pressure, in the penalty shootout vs. Swiss, which lead his team to the next round.
In the quarter-final he will come up against his future teammate Renato Sanches, who was quite a factor in Portugal’s game vs. Croatia. He was named man of the match as the initiator of the deciding goal in overtime. He stood out because of his interceptions, his passing and dribblings, which are qualities that contribute to his role as a central or defensive midfielder. It will be interesting to see if Carlo Ancelotti manages to find the right spot for him in the Bavarian squad.
Before the Euro Joachim Löw pointed out that he needs two teams to be successful in this competition. The first one mainly for the preliminaries against teams with focus on their defensive stability and the second one to compete in the knock-out-rounds vs. equal opponents. In the quarter-finals the Germans will face Italy who played surprisingly strong up until now. Even the Spanish passing experts had no solution against the strong defence, Antonio Conte and his team set up for the game. Just like in the previous world cup vs. the Netherlands and Chile, Spain failed to outplay a three at the back formation the Italians established.
So far the German offensive play style constituted of attacking full-backs, inverting wingers and defensive midfielders, who played quite courageous against the ball. As a consequence turnovers lead to open spaces most of the opponents were not able to benefit from – but Italy will for sure! Additionally Löw needs to keep his offensive power as well. To execute this proposition he will likely count on his tried and trusted current and former Bayern players, who served him well over the last few tournaments. Manuel Neuer was there when he was needed. Just like Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels, who as a combination work better and better with every minute they spend together on the field. To complete the build up section of the team, there is Toni Kroos, whom both centre-backs know very well due to previous tournaments they played together. All three of them will be the targets of Antonio Conte who showed that he is able to prevent a strong build up play by taking out key players like Sergio Busquets in the round of 16 vs. Spain. One solution for them might be to switch sides quickly as well as to answer the high attacking style of Italy with vertical passes.
Joshua Kimmich, if he is in the starting XI, is challenged to find a better balance between offence and defence to eliminate counter attacks before they are becoming too much of a danger. However it is imaginable that Löw will sacrifice Kimmich and with him some offensive power, in order to increase the defensive stability with Benedikt Höwedes.
Our Bavarians up front are Thomas Müller and Mario Götze. The chances of the last-mentioned are quite low due to an exceptional performance of Julian Draxler who is likely to start vs. Italy. All the expectations Götze might have had, that this tournament will be the big changing point seem to be crushed. On the other side there is Thomas Müller who has improved a lot during the last two games. Especially his former colleague Mario Gomez benefits a lot from Müller’s strengths. There is just one little thing missing – the first goal of the tournament. But!!! What would be a better occasion than a game vs. Italy in a major tournament quarter-final to create the next magical Müller moment?
In our last round up we already mentioned that we might have our first champion to talk about this week. As many ups and downs there are for the Bavarians at the Euro, Arturo Vidal has had almost solely ups at the Copa America Centenario. Although Argentina were the clear favourites, the Chilean national team beat them in a penalty shootout back to back just like one year ago. Vidal was undoubtedly the most important midfielder in his team. The numbers – three goals, one assist and 21 shots on target – speak for themselves. In the final alone he managed to intercept the ball nine times only in the first half. Those defensive efforts were indeed needed because Chile had a bad start into the game. For example Higuaín particularly had to put the Argentinians into the lead several times. Following the dismissal of Marcelo Diaz it seemed to be only a matter of time until Messi and his companions would score the decisive goal. But then came the turning point, which was another send-off. Marcus Rojo received the second red card of the game, a decision that in review might be quite questionable. After no goals in 120 minutes, a penalty shootout had to serve as the decider of the game. Vidal himself missed his penalty just like Messi and Biglia, which caused the final score to be 4:2 in favour of Chile.
- Renato Sanches and the Portuguese national team face Poland and Robert Lewandowski in the quarter final of the Euro. (Thursday 30th of June 09:00pm CET)
- Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Joshua Kimmich, Mario Götze, Thomas Müller and the German national team face Italy in the quarterfinal of the Euro. (Saturday 2nd of July 09:00pm CET)
- Kingsley Coman and the French national team face Island in the quarter final of the Euro. (Sunday 3rd of July 09:00pm CET)
As we are used to, Arturo Vidal showed up big time in a big game. Five of the 12 interceptions he made in the Copa final were against Messi. Especially after the dismissal of Diaz his presence was crucial for the Chileans. With him we have a big time player in our squad, who is one of a kind and currently one of the best there is in the world in his position as well. Vidal’s nomination as Bayern player of the week is his second overall in the summer break 2016.