Bayern Munich kickstarted their 2018-19 UEFA Champions League campaign on a positive note, securing a hard fought 2-0 win over Benfica.
Bayern Munich continued their impressive start to the season by securing a hard fought 2-0 win over SL Benfica, continuing their perfect start to the season as a result.
The Bavarians initially started the game exquisitely, often causing trouble in the final third thanks to Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery’s pacy movements on the flanks. And, they were duly rewarded as Robert Lewandowski opened the scoring in 10th minute with a neat finish from inside the box.
But, Benfica were quick to respond, maintaining their high press whilst throwing a plethora of men forward to help their attackers. And, oddly enough, the Portuguese giants did manage to create quite a stir in the Bayern defence, and could count themselves as unlucky to not find an equalizer before half-time.
The break allowed Bayern to rethink and reset their gameplan and although they struggled to contain a dynamic Benfica attack for the most part, the visitors hit back in their trademark fashion when Renato Sanches doubled their lead just six minutes before the hour mark. Benfica did maintain their offensive threat for the rest of the match, but failed to find any clear openings nonetheless.
7 – The last 7 Bayern managers each won their first Champions League match in charge of the Munich side without conceding a single goal. Debut. #SLBFCB #UCL @FCBayernEN @ChampionsLeague pic.twitter.com/tb2ECT31jQ
— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) September 19, 2018
And here, at the Hard Tackle, we run the rule of over the Niko Kovac’s men following Bayern Munich’s solid performance against a spirited Benfica side.
Manuel Neuer: 8/10
A very commendable performance from the German international, who responded well whenever he was called upon. Had it not been for his four saves, Benfica would have easily made a comeback sooner rather than later. Neuer though, looked a little rusty on the ball, an aspect of his game that he must address again.
Joshua Kimmich: 7.5/10
It wasn’t one of those easy nights for Kimmich as he was devoid of both time and space on the right flank, thanks to an intense, high press from Benfica. But, the youngster showed his true qualities by remaining calm and composed and most importantly, keeping out the opposing wingers.
Jerome Boateng: 6/10
Despite struggling for the most part, Boateng somehow managed to do his job by shutting out the Benfica attackers. His tall figure was intimidating enough for Benfica’s inexperienced set of attackers. However, his regression has been clearly visible from his performances this season.
Mats Hummels: 6/10
Should have done a lot better given his obvious qualities in defence. The former Dortmund superstar was given a hard time by the likes of Haris Seferovic and Eduardo Salvio. He wasn’t helping much in build-up either despite completing the most number of passes on the night.
David Alaba: 7/10
It was a mixed performance from David Alaba, who recovered very well after being somewhat underwhelming in the first half. The Austrian international often got beaten by Salvio on the left flank but as the game wore on, Alaba became much more influential on both ends of the pitch.
While he won the most number headed duels, he was also the one who came up with the assist for Lewandowski’s opener in the first half.
Javi Martinez: 6/10
Struggled to take control of the midfield, perhaps due to the absence of Thiago Alcantara. The former Athletic Bilbao star was often isolated and certainly had a numerical advantage with James Rodriguez being deployed further upfront while Sanches was more hooked on the attacking side of the game.
Renato Sanches: 8.5/10
A fantastic return to Portugal for the young sensation, who produced an excellent performance against his former club. Sanches used exquisite close control to not just carry the ball around half-spaces but to also create chances.
Indeed, the 21-year-old attempted 47 passes with an accuracy of 94%, more than any of the starters. He capped off his brilliant performance with a well-deserved goal in the 54th minute to double his side’s lead. It will be interesting to see how Niko Kovac utilises him throughout the course of this season.
James Rodriguez: 8/10
Arguably the most influential player of the night, James Rodriguez seems to have picked up from where he left last season as he produced a stunning performance in the centre of the pitch.
The Colombian motored forward at every opportunity but most importantly, he replaced Thomas Muller flawlessly, with 91 touches and 3 key passes. He was the one who came up with the assist for Sanches’ goal in the second half.
Arjen Robben: 7.5/10
An outstanding performance from the Dutchman, who made a plethora of runs in behind the defence this evening. While Robben may have spurned three huge opportunities to get his name on the score sheet, it was his scorching runs in behind the defence which caused a lot of trouble for the opposition.
He will be certainly disappointed to not have scored at least one goal, but Bayern will be happy to learn that their favourite Dutchman is not going to deteriorate anytime soon.
Robert Lewandowski: 8.5/10
Led the line brilliantly with solid teamwork and work-ethic. After scoring the early-opener, the Polish international didn’t back up and instead, tried to find an opening at every occasion in order kill the game. While he was unlucky not to have found any more clear-cut chances, we should definitely acknowledge his hard-working performance, clearly depicted in his statistics.
He took 41 touches, made 26 passes, won 5 aerial duels and finally, took two shots – all of which are outstanding figures, especially for a centre-forward.
Franck Ribery: 6.5/10
Unlike Robben, Ribery wasn’t as influential on the flanks but his darting runs into the channel did strike fear in the hearts of the Benfica defenders. He completed two dribbles and a key pass before being subbed off around the hour mark.
Serge Gnabry: 7.5/10
Gnabry proved to be an excellent substitute as he was involved in almost every attacking moments for Bayern after replacing Ribery around the hour mark. The former Arsenal winger completed a dribble and took two shots, one of which went very close from finding the back of the net.
Leon Goretzka: N/A
Brought a calming influence into the proceedings after coming on for James Rodriguez with just ten minutes left on the clock.
Thomas Muller: N/A
Muller was introduced in the 81st minute to provide a freshness into the attack. Didn’t have much time to make an impact.