Summer-Round-Up: Who will be European Champion?
In the summer round-up, we keep you updated on FC Bayern’s international players every week.
Sanches’ feeble performance
For the first time during this tournament, Renato Sanches showed that he is only 18 years old. His performance against Wales was filled with easy turnovers, unlucky passes, and weak positioning. It wasn’t the first time he made mistakes, but while he was able to improve himself during previous games, he failed to do that this time, and was subbed off shortly before the end as a consequence. Despite that, Bayern’s new signing was very active and tried to support his team; he collected 45 touches in 73 minutes of playing time, one shot on goal, and a passing accuracy which, at 74.3%, was way below his previous performances. There is still no denying that he played a great Euro and Portugal might not even have made it into the semi-final without him. No matter how the final will end, he can be proud of his achievement and start the new challenge at Bayern full of confidence.
Coman on the bench, Germany on the way out
It was a curious game. When France left the pitch on Thursday evening as winners, one couldn’t help but think that the 2-0 final score didn’t match the course of the game. Without any disrespect to Didier Deschamps and his team, Germany were the superior team. While Germany didn’t create quite as many chances as the Munich team had done, the game was still reminiscent of the Champions League semi-final return leg between Bayern and Atlético Madrid. The parallels were clearly visible; both the matter-of-fact way they dominated the home team throughout the first half, and a certain Antoine Griezmann, who became not only France’s hero, but Germany’s bogeyman. Both goals were presents from the German team: first, Bastian Schweinsteiger, who had had a decent game up to then, provoked an unnecessary penalty for handball, and later, a more than curious chain of errors lead to the decisive second goal. Höwedes, instead of going for a long ball, played a short pass to Kimmich, who, under pressure, misjudged the situation and presented the ball to the French on a silver platter. Even the usually so secure Manuel Neuer played his part, deflecting the ball right into Griezmann’s feet, where Schweinsteiger wasn’t covering his opponent properly. It was the first goal that Germany had conceded from open play.
Germany controlled the game, but France had the better scoring opportunities. Based on performance alone, Löw’s team would have deserved to go through to the next round; but it just wasn’t meant to be and the World Champions are going home, heads held high. Bayern’s players, too, can be proud of their performances: Neuer had several opportunities throughout the tournament to prove himself and showed why he’s the best keeper in the world, not just against Italy. Mats Hummels and Jérôme Boateng gave a first taste of what Bayern fans will be able to expect for the next couple of years, with Hummels a painful absence during the semi-final. Höwedes had a great performance against the ball, but Bayern’s new signing was sorely missed while building up play. Boateng, who scored his first goal for Germany during this Euro, had to end the tournament with an unnecessary injury. There is no final diagnosis yet, but in the worst case scenario of a muscle bundle tear, the defender could be out of action for at least three months. According to other media reports, his injury break might be as short as six weeks, which would make him miss almost the entire pre-season training, but he would be fit to play early in the season. Boateng dragged himself through the tournament, proved himself as a leader, and has more than deserved a break.
Coman consoling his Bayern teammates after the game
(Foto: Valery Hache / AFP / Getty Images)
Joshua Kimmich, too, convinced during this Euro, crowning his great season finish with a solid performance as right-back. Against Slovakia, he was one of the men of the match and hinted at how important he might become in that position. In the Italy game, the trained midfielder had another appealing performance; while there were two situations where he didn’t look good, these were more due to team tactics and mostly concerned the players around him. The semi-final was the first game where Kimmich failed to convince, having a part in the second goal and not always looking his best against Payet and Griezmann. However, trying to close a gap like that at only 21 years is a huge task, and all things considered, the makeshift defender did a very good job. The experience at this Euro will help him at Bayern as well; Carlo Ancelotti will have noticed the intelligence in play the young player possesses.
Mario Götze, on the other hand, didn’t offer too many opportunities for the new coach to watch. There were rumours that Ancelotti had told him even before the tournament that he wasn’t convinced by him, and new media reports now link the World Champion with Tottenham. While the 24-year-old got rid of his previous agent and announced he wanted to prove himself during the new season, this scenario seems to be becoming less and less likely. Götze’s time at Bayern was shaped by ill luck, a lack of confidence on all sides, bad judgment and assessment, and sometimes, sheer inability. After a good, maybe even very good, start, the 2014 World Cup final’s only scorer’s performance degraded. Plenty of injuries prevented him from consistently making his way into the team and showing everybody how good he was. A new beginning under Ancelotti could be very interesting from an football point of view, but on the other hand there is his high salary and the final chance of selling him for a good fee. Whether Götze will leave this summer isn’t decided yet though, supposedly a free transfer in 2017 is an equally realistic option for him.
The final German international is Thomas Müller. His name keeps popping up in discussions about why Germany got eliminated, despite Müller playing what was probably his best game of the tournament against France. He was constantly dropping back between France’s lines, created connections and, with that, space for Özil or Joshua Kimmich. Even though the 26-year-old failed to score yet again, he seemed everything but tired, on the contrary, watching him was a joy. Yet again, Müller showed up for an important game and didn’t let his team down. But of course, despite all well-deserved praise, the big question is why he started missing penalties and goal-scoring opportunities alike. The truth probably lies somewhere between bad luck, inability, and too many games in this season; it’s likely not even Müller himself really knows. The forward is now off to his well-deserved holiday and can start searching for his luck in front of goal again after that.
There won’t be a Bayern player of the week this round-up; after the final we will have one last, extensive look at the Euro and honour the best player of the tournament.