Bayern Munich finished their Champions League Group Stage off with a much needed win over a below-par Atletico Madrid.
It was a match of little consequence, as Atletico Madrid were already assured a place atop Group D and Bayern had already qualified, so neither side were going to go into this tie all guns blazing. As expected, a number of key players were left out of each side and it was a game that lacked urgency for large parts of it, much to the ire Atletico Boss Diego Simeone, whose yelling and screaming from the sidelines didn’t really have the desired effect as his side ended the game on the losing side.
The Frenchman was deployed at leftback, an unfamiliar position given that he is by trade a central defender, but he was one of the best players for Simeone’s side for the night, if not the best. It would have been difficult to believe that he is only 20-years-old, after the kind of performance he put in last night against Arjen Robben and Rafinha on the left flank. He managed to keep the Dutchman quiet the entire night, except for one or two minor slips which never proved to be costly. He was unafraid to attack and bombed forward along with Koke whenever the opportunity presented itself. With Felipe Luis injured and left out of the squad, Hernandez showed Simeone that he need not worry about back up in that position for the time being, and also that he was more than ready for first team action at the highest level.
It was a game for the Atletico midfield to forget. It was an uncharacteristic performance, one that Simeone surely won’t let them forget easily. They were run ragged by Renato Sanches, Arturo Vidal and Thiago and were never able to hold on to possession for extended periods of time, or even enough to create any proper chances for their attackers upfront. The midfield momentum was always with the Bavarians, as was most of the possession. They severely felt the absence of the veteran Tiago in the squad, which should be concern for Simeone given the amount of quality present in his midfield.
Early Chances Wasted
Had Yannick Carrasco been able to take his early chances, the result would perhaps have been a different one. A sublime through ball by Antoine Griezmann sent Carrasco through on goal with only Manuel Neuer between him and the lead. Unfortunately, his shot went straight to the German international. His next opportunity came after a little Hernandez put in a superb cross in just waiting for the Belgian international to smash it in, but a poor shot which was again directed toward Neuer. The score would eventually stay 0-0 before Lewandowski gave them the lead, but if those early chances were finished, the game would have likely progressed in a different manner.
The Polish international had a brilliant game for the Bavarians, which was capped off with a stunning freekick. His 28th minute goal was the only goal of the game, but he didn’t stop making life difficult for the visitors the entire night and Diego Godin and Stefan Savic would have breathed a sigh of relief at hearing the final whistle. He covered a lot of ground the entire night and was more than willing to get back deep and help out his teammates in midfield. The 28-year-old is currently on a stunning run of form, and his goal against Atletico was his 17th this season, in 21 appearances in all competitions and it doesn’t look like he’s going to stop anytime soon and it comes as little surprise that the Bundesliga champions want to tie down their star striker for the long term with a new mega money contract.