Bayern Munich extended their winning run to two games after securing a hard-fought victory over AEK Athens in the UEFA Champions League.
Following a winless run of four games, Bayern Munich have finally managed to escape their cold-streak and secure back to back wins after a 2-0 victory over AEK Athens on Tuesday.
It was a sterile attacking display from the Bavarians for large parts of the contest, especially in the first half where they lacked the end-product despite creating a lot of chances. Similarly, in the second half, the AEK defence did really well to prevent Bayern from getting a clear-cut opportunity.
However, a lapse in concentration for a brief moment in the second half saw the visitors grab the lead around the hour mark through Javi Martinez’s well-timed volley inside the box. And only minutes later, Robert Lewandowski doubled Bayern’s lead to seal all three points for his side.
The win will come as a relief for Niko Kovac, who will look forward to the weekend’s game against FSV Mainz 05. AEK Athens, on the other hand, have now lost three successive matches in the UEFA Champions League after initially ending their 14 game unbeaten record in European competitions earlier this season.
And, here at The Hard Tackle, we run the rule over Niko Kovac’s men following their hard-fought win over the Greek giants.
Manuel Neuer: 7/10
A quiet evening for Manuel Neuer, who was hardly tested by the AEK attackers as they mustered up only one shot on target. Nevertheless, the Bayern Munich captain will be delighted to have kept his first clean sheet after a month.
2 – @FCBayernEN kept clean sheets in 2 consecutive Champions League away games for the first time since 5 years ago – back then on their journey to the title in Turin and Barcelona. Stability. #AEKFCB #UCL
— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) October 23, 2018
Joshua Kimmich: 8/10
An excellent performance from the German international, who parked himself in the opposition half for large parts of the game. Kimmich was key in rotating possession in the wider areas of the pitch, where Bayern created most of their chances. His delivery from set-pieces was also quite accurate.
Niklas Sule: 7/10
Continues to thrive at the heart of the Bayern Munich defence alongside the experienced Mats Hummels. Although AEK did look menacing at times, Sule’s doggedness helped him mop up the threat and produce a clinical defensive effort. He definitely seems like a better option than Jerome Boateng at the moment.
Mats Hummels: 8/10
Was always in control of Bayern’s backline, largely thanks to his composing display at the back. In addition to his exploits at the back, the German international also did well in the build-up play, not only winning the most number of aerial duels but also maintained a pass accuracy of 90%.
His long balls, in particular, proved to be very useful as the switch of play helped Bayern stretch the opposing defence. He will undoubtedly be a central feature in the game against Mainz as Bayern look to make it three wins in three matches.
A responsible performance from Rafinha, who was tasked with the job of deputising for David Alaba, who aggravated his injury during the 3-1 win over Wolfsburg last weekend.
Although the Brazilian didn’t make as many surges into the final third, he remained defensively solid throughout the course of the match before providing the assist for Bayern’s second goal around the hour mark. It will be interesting to see if Kovac opts to deploy Rafinha ahead of Alaba against Mainz this weekend.
Javi Martinez: 7/10
A 61st minute opener overshadowed a sloppy defensive display from Javi Martinez, who struggled to cope with the pacy and dynamic AEK midfielders for large parts of the game. Although he appeared quite solid in possession, his lack of pace could have certainly become an issue against a stronger opposition.
Arjen Robben: 7/10
Robben did exactly what he does best – run into the opposing defenders with pace and vigour. His partnership with Joshua Kimmich on the flanks was also eye-catching. Even though he did struggle to actually breach the opposing defence, it was a refreshing performance nonetheless, especially after a disgraceful dismissal against Wolfsburg last weekend.
James Rodriguez: 6.5/10
Appeared listless for large parts of the game with the AEK defenders putting a tight mark on the Colombian international. As a result, James struggled to create anything of note, except a couple of neat forward balls in the second half. He was subbed off after the opener with Kovac having one eye on the congested fixture list.
Thiago Alcantara: 8.5/10
Yet another commendable display from the Spanish international, who was key in Bayern’s creativity in the final third as well as their midfield transition. Indeed, Thiago mustered 72 accurate passes while his tally of four dribbles completed was the most by anyone else on the pitch.
Serge Gnabry: 9/10
After a promising display against Wolfsburg on the weekend, Gnabry picked up from where he left off, producing yet another astonishing performance on the flanks. He was Bayern’s brightest spark in attack even during a stale first half, where the Bavarians looked completely out of sorts.
His sheer pace in the wider positions caused a series of troubles for the AEK defence, as he often got to the byline to provide a host of dangerous crosses. Gnabry also attempted three shots on goal, which reflects his eagerness to impress Kovac and thus, he is almost guaranteed to start against Mainz this weekend.
Robert Lewandowski: 8/10
Despite a frustrating evening, where he often lacked support from his teammates, Lewandowski produced a valiant display in attack. Very much limited in terms of his goalscoring opportunities, the Polish international linked up well with his teammates and his work-rate was impressive as well. Capped off a hard-working display with a 63rd minute strike to seal all three points for his side.
Leon Goretzka: 6/10
Replaced the ineffective James Rodriguez for the final half-hour as Kovac opted to have an extra body in midfield.
Thomas Muller: 6/10
Created nothing of note after coming on for Serge Gnabry in the 75th minute. However, his clever movements did allow his teammates a bit more freedom during the final phase of the game.
Sandro Wagner: N/A
Replaced Robert Lewandowski with just six minutes remaining on the clock.