The good run of form in the Champions League continued for Bayern Munich on matchday three. The defending Bundesliga champions managed to take a big step towards sealing a spot in the round of 16 by smashing five goals past Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday. Courtesy of the win against Plzen, Bayern remained top of Group C with nine points.
Bayern dominated the game against Plzen from the word go and delivered a perfect performance. On any other day, the score line would have been even bigger since Die Roten created plenty of chances. The Bavarian club has momentum ahead of the big Der Klassiker on Saturday. Before the build-up towards the Der Klassiker, let us look at the major takeaways from the win against Plzen.
Leon Goretzka thrives in a box-to-box midfield role
Julian Nagelsmann used a completely different midfield pivot against Plzen. Joshua Kimmich was ruled out for Tuesday’s game after testing positive for coronavirus. Kimmich’s unavailability allowed Ryan Gravenberch to get his first Champions League start for Die Roten. Meanwhile, Leon Goretzka replaced Marcel Sabitzer in the box-to-box midfield role.
Goretzka has given a massive selection headache to Nagelsmann for Der Klassiker. The German midfielder delivered his best performance of the season in the number eight role. Goretzka’s passing was efficient and crisp against Plzen. He made darting runs in the box and played two very smart passes to set up goals for Serge Gnabry and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.
Goretzka created three chances and made 14 passes in the final third, which is significant for a player operating in the midfield pivot. It remains to be seen if Nagelsmann sticks with him for this position against Borussia Dortmund. (Stats courtesy: Fotmob)
Forwards getting goals to boost confidence
Apart from the results in the last two competitive games, Bayern and Julian Nagelsmann will be pleased with the fact that all of their forwards have got onto the scoresheet. After scoring against Bayer Leverkusen, Sadio Mane delivered a very accomplished performance on the left flank against Plzen, contributing with one goal and an assist.
The biggest positive in the front four on Tuesday was the performance of Serge Gnabry. Die Roten has been concerned with his form since he was on a goal drought of seven games across all competitions.
Getting a goal against Plzen will do a world of good to Gnabry’s confidence. Leroy Sane continued his scintillating form in the Champions League by scoring a brace, while Choupo-Moting also scored on Tuesday after coming off the bench in the second half. Having all forwards in good form will help Nagelsmann to navigate through a busy run of fixtures with the best possible results.
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Sadio Mane turns creator for Bayern
The Bavarian faithful was able to witness Sadio Mane in a different role against Plzen. The Senegalese forward played on the left flank throughout the game. After tripling Die Roten’s lead in the 21st minute with a brilliant bit of skill, Mane largely operated as a creator in the front four.
The former Liverpool forward was executing passes that often Thomas Muller is tasked to do in the front four. Mane was finding other forwards with short and clever chip passes throughout the game. He was eventually rewarded with an assist in the second half when he played a beautiful aerial through pass to find Sane’s run in the center of the box.
It was not surprising to see Mane getting the official man of the match since he scored a brilliant goal and created multiple chances. The Senegalese forward’s versatility is a very valuable asset for Die Roten. (Stats courtesy: Fotmob)