The perfect run of results in the group stage of the Champions League continued for Bayern Munich on Wednesday. The defending Bundesliga champions delivered a convincing display to win 3-0 against Barcelona at Camp Nou. The victory against Barcelona ensures that Die Roten will finish at the top of the points table in Group C.
Winning away at Barcelona is a terrific result, irrespective of Barcelona’s form. Camp Nou is difficult to visit and get all three points, so Julian Nagelsmann did a fine job setting the team well on Wednesday. Apart from the result and its repercussions on the points table, here are the key takeaways from Camp Nou.
Perfect game management by Bayern Munich
Winning away in Europe against big teams can only happen if the game management from visiting side is spot on. Bayern was guilty of not managing the game well at Signal Iduna Park a few weeks ago, but they got everything right at Camp Nou on Wednesday.
Nagelsmann’s team started on the front foot, pressing aggressively in the final third to win the ball higher up the pitch. They outplayed Barcelona across the pitch and deservedly took a two-goal lead in the first half. Barcelona came back strongly in the second half, but Die Roten seamlessly adapted to their approach. The Bavarian team defended deep and looked a threat on the counter in the second half. The perfect blend of attack and defense eventually helped Bayern to clinch a comfortable win and keep a clean sheet at Camp Nou.
Matthijs de Ligt and Dayot Upamecano have formed a solid center-back pairing
Bayern often struggled to keep clean sheets in the second half of last season. After enjoying explosive first three weeks of this season, similar problems were visible for Die Roten. Julian Nagelsmann has managed to address this problem over the last few weeks since Bayern looks much more solid defensively.
Along with Nagelsmann, the center-back pairing of Matthijs de Ligt and Dayot Upaemcano also deserve plaudits for recent performances. Both defenders were at their best against Barcelona. They managed to keep Robert Lewandowski quiet and keep Barcelona at bay. De Ligt and Upamecano have all the qualities of a good modern center-back, so it is not surprising to see them excel as a partnership for Die Roten. Lucas Hernandez has a challenge on his hand to get back into the starting XI when he recovers from an adductor injury.
Sadio Mane’s flexibility makes him a vital player for Bayern
The win against Barcelona on Wednesday highlighted why Bayern was eager to sign Sadio Mane in the summer. The Senegalese forward was sensational for Die Roten, in and out of possession. Julian Nagelsmann started Mane on the left flank against Barcelona. In the first half, Mane helped the team to push Barcelona into their half with a coordinated press. The former Liverpool forward showed great strength and skill to open the scoring for Bayern. He made a darting run to catch Barca’s defense napping. Eventually, Mane calmly slotted past the goalkeeper to get an early lead for Die Roten.
The goal summed up Mane in a nutshell, a forward playing always on the last line and showing great composure in the box. When Bayern was soaking up the pressure due to Barcelona’s good spell on the ball, Mane worked hard to win the ball. He won half of the seven tackles he attempted. Mane also made seven ball recoveries and made two interceptions. (Stats courtesy: FotMob)
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The Senegal international has an immense work ethic, making him a tactically flexible player. After Mane’s performance against Barcelona on Wednesday, Die Roten will be pleased that they got a world-class forward for a reasonable price.