Bayern Munich pulled off a Jekyll-and-Hyde performance against Barcelona in the Champions League that has just eased some of the growing pressure on Julian Nagelsmann.
It wasn’t looking good for Bayern’s young technocrat at half-time as Barca bossed the opening 45 minutes, but the hosts came out after the restart with the bit between their teeth, capitalising on the wastefulness of Xavi’s men in the first half and earning three crucial points in Group C.
The goals ultimately came from a bullet Lucas Hernandez header five minutes after the interval, who guided in Joshua Kimmich’s expertly-taken corner kick, before Leroy Sane doubled Bayern’s advantage minutes later with a trademark run and finish.
It was a pulsating affair — and here’s how the players rated in Bavaria:
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Manuel Neuer – 6 – His distribution was very iffy in the first half, but the veteran gloveman certainly made up for it with some crucial saves on his former team-mate Lewandowski.
Benjamin Pavard – N/A – Had a good initial tussle with Ousmane Dembele but injury forced him off early into the contest.
Dayot Upamecano – 8 – A monstrous performance from the hard-nosed centre-back, who was often left exposed in the first half as his midfield barrier went walkabouts — but he often bailed them out and then came alive in the second 45 minutes, putting his body on the line and throwing everything at the cause to protect his side’s clean sheet.
Bayern are now unbeaten in their last 30 Champions League group stage games:
Unstoppable. ? pic.twitter.com/wgModRVRLD
— Squawka (@Squawka) September 13, 2022
Lucas Hernandez – 7 – Another who had a wobbly first half, but he formed a strong enough partnership with Upamecano to muzzle and defang Lewandowski, not to mention breaking the deadlock with a bruising header from a Kimmich corner.
Alphonso Davies – 6 – Had Raphinha on toast in the first half as the Brazilian looked to throw down the gauntlet in his first major Champions League night. The Canadian was equal to everything Barca threw at him on that flank, and didn’t half show an engine to get up the pitch and support his team-mates. Rating brought down a touch as he should have conceded a penalty!
Joshua Kimmich – 7 – Closed with the inexorable zeal of a hydraulic press, the German was Bayern’s luxurious axis in the centre of the pitch and duly made his mark on the scoreline with a precision corner.
Marcel Sabitzer – 5 – Looked like a rabbit in the headlights at times as Barca’s precocious midfield swarmed him. The Austrian did have the best opportunity in the first half for Bayern, but his strike whistled past the post. Came off at half-time, possibly with his yellow card in mind, but most likely a tactical shift from Nagelsmann to wrestle back some authority in the game.
Leroy Sane – 7 – There were calls from some for him to be brought off at half-time, such was his influence (or lack of). Nagelsmann’s faith in his compatriot more than paid off, with the lethal forward running hither and thither down the wing and scoring a quite brilliant second for Bayern as he linked expertly with Musiala before poking past Ter Stegen.
Leroy Sané's game by numbers vs. Barcelona:
91% pass accuracy
8 touches in opp. box
6x possession won
3 duels won
2 chances created
1 shot on target
— Squawka (@Squawka) September 13, 2022
Thomas Muller – 7 – One of the few Bayern players who actually played well in the first half (comical clash with Mane aside), with the recently-turned 33-year-old spreading play expertly and pressing in typical fashion. He took that form into the second half and expressively lived up to his self-proclaimed raumdeuter moniker, popping up in previously unseen space to provide his team-mates a consistent link.
Jamal Musiala – 7 – Bayern’s sensational turnaround was epitomised by Musiala, the jewel in the Bavarian crown. The Germany international orbited the ‘hole’ with devastating effect when Bayern got into full gear after half time
Sadio Mane – 5 – A quiet game from the Senegalese frontman, but he did put in the hard yards and gobbled up plenty of grass.
Noussair Mazraoui (for Pavard 21′) – 8 – His block on Lewandowski in the first half was worthy of a high rating by itself, but the former Ajax man followed up with several key interceptions throughout the match, and continuously bombarded up and down the flank.
Leon Goretzka (for Sabitzer 45′) – 7 – It will come as no surprise that Bayern’s change in mood coincided with Goretzka’s introduction. The German bruiser brought bite and tenacity to the equation that shifted the momentum.
Serge Gnabry (for Mane 70′) – 6 – Put in a good shift for the final 20 minutes to see the game out.
Mathys Tel (for Sane 80′) – N/A – Came on for the final 10 minutes.
Ryan Gravenberch (for Musiala 80′) – N/A – Came on for the final 10 minutes.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 5 – Made a strong save on Goretzka in the early stages of the second half but was scrambling for Bayern’s opener from Hernandez’s free header, before Sane elegantly scooped the ball around him for the host’s second.
Jules Kounde – 6 – A tale of two halves for most of these players really. Kounde was solid in the first half as he switched effortlessly between right-back and centre-back, but he struggled for Bayern’s second as Sane went careering through on goal. That Mane had a quiet game, though, is perhaps testament to a lot of good defensive work he did produce in this bonkers contest.
Ronald Araujo – 5 – Had some solid moments in the game as Bayern struggled in the first half to break Barca’s down, but he was absolutely done for pace by Sane for Bayern’s second.
Andreas Christensen – 5 – I mean this game came down to two key components really: Barca’s wastefulness in front of goal, and Barca’s poor defending. Christensen was just as culpable for Xavi’s leaky rearguard as Bayern bore down on them after the restart.
Marcos Alonso – 4 – Abysmal marking to let Lucas Hernandez elude him for Bayern’s deadlock-breaker five minutes after the restart. Caught daydreaming and couldn’t look less interested if he tried when Hernandez was towering up to nod home.
Sergio Busquets – 6 – Make no mistake, Busquets was supreme in the first half, save for a few wayward passes, intercepting and recovering the ball like the peak Barca days under Pep Guardiola. But, like many in the visiting team, his influence waned, and he was in absolute no man’s land for Bayern’s second, looking like he was walking through treacle trying to get back as the Bavarian beast pushed forward.
Gavi – 7 – Just sublime for his entire time on the pitch. Oozed class and didn’t look overawed by the occasion, playing with a maturity that belied his tender years.
Chances created in the first half:
◉ 4 – Gavi
◎ 4 – Bayern
◎ 3 – Barcelona's other 10 players
— Squawka (@Squawka) September 13, 2022
Pedri – 8 – The best player on the pitch alongside Upamecano. Pedri was just sensational, a dribbling wizard who saw passes not visible to the human eye; he played with robotic vision and ethereal movement, collecting the ball in tight pockets of space and creating something when nothing looked on. An absolute joy to watch, and unlucky to be on the losing side.
Raphinha – 5 – Had a torrid time in the initial phase as Alphonso Davies bossed him both defensively and offensively, forcing Xavi to swap his wingers over. The Brazilian had some success after that as the visitors upped the ante in the first half, but his influence waned and he was eventually hooked on the hour mark.
Ousmane Dembele – 6 – A man much improved and his confidence was on show here as he charged forward trying to create openings. He arguably should have created one after a tangle of legs with Davies in Bayern’s, but the referee was unmoved. It certainly looked like a penalty.
Robert Lewandowski – 6 – His world-class positional awareness was on full display tonight; his finishing, though, wasn’t. This was vintage Lewandowski in every way bar the goal-fest. He found himself in clear goalscoring chances and linked play well, but just couldn’t find that golden touch to bite the hand that once fed him. Another 90 minutes and he still wouldn’t have scored — it was just one of those nights.
Bayern have now won more #UCL games against Barcelona (9) than any other team they have faced in the Champions League:
Clean sheets: 6
No Lewy? No problem. pic.twitter.com/T640kGrXEo
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) September 13, 2022
Frenkie de Jong (for Gavi 61′) – 6 – An odd change from Xavi, and one that didn’t really do much as Barca continued to knock on the door without much substance.
Ferran Torres (for Raphinha 61′) – 6 – Found himself in dangerous areas, but like Raphinha, he just lacked that one moment of inspiration.
Eric Garcia (for Christensen 70′) – 6 – Substituted on for the final 20 minutes and didn’t do much wrong.
Ansu Fati (for Dembele 80′) – N/A – Came on for the final 10 minutes.
Franck Kessie (for Busquets 80′) – N/A – Came on for the final 10 minutes.