Following a disappointing draw with Fortuna Dusseldorf, Bayern Munich returned to winning ways, hammering Benfica 5-1.
It looks like Niko Kovac has managed to save his skin for yet another week, as the Croatian mastermind guided Bayern to a sensational 5-1 win over Benfica on Tuesday. The win will serve as a sigh of relief for the coach as well as the fans, who have had a rough time supporting their beloved Bayern this campaign.
The Bavarians were on fire right from the start as Arjen Robben scored twice within the half-hour mark before Robert Lewandowski opened his tally in the 36th minute as Bayern ended half-time with an unassailable 3-1 lead over Benfica.
Although the Portuguese giants did respond quickly, scoring just a minute after the restart, Lewandowski struck again six minutes to later to score his second and Bayern’s fourth before Franck Ribery’s 76th-minute strike added further gloss to the scoreline.
The win ensures Bayern a place in the knockout rounds whilst diminishing Benfica’s hopes of advancing to the next round with Ajax securing a comfortable 2-0 win over AEK in the other game.
In the meantime, the Hard Tackle runs the rule over the Bayern Munich players in their 5-1 destruction of Benfica.
Manuel Neuer: 6/10
Had very little to do as Benfica struggled to create that many chances, mustering only two shots on target. But, the German international has once again failed to preserve his clean sheet and his steady fall from grace has been visible this season.
Despite not being as influential as Kimmich on the right flank, Rafinha stuck to his task of keeping things tight and providing the necessary support in attack. He fed Robben on numerous occasions down the right flank and still remains a reliable choice for Kovac.
Niklas Sule: 7.5/10
With Mats Hummels missing out with a stomach illness, the onus was on Niklas Sule to build a strong defensive partnership alongside the struggling Jerome Boateng. And the youngster didn’t disappoint either, dominating the Benfica attackers in the air whilst making a few crucial clearances.
Jerome Boateng: 7/10
It was a relatively better performance from Boateng, who managed to complement Sule in the Bayern backline for the most period of the game. But, his lack of awareness led to Benfica’s only goal of the night while his overall build-up play wasn’t effective either.
David Alaba: 8/10
A stunning display from the Austrian international who combined well with Franck Ribery on the left flank as they duo kept Benfica on their toes for a large period of the game. Registered an assist late in the game as his cutback found Ribery but most importantly, Alaba also made an important interception in the second half to prevent Benfica initiate a late comeback.
Joshua Kimmich: 8.5/10
Kovac was forced to start Kimmich in midfield, knowing Javi Martinez’s lack of mobility could create problems against the dynamic Benfica midfield. And the German international didn’t disappoint either, producing some excellent forward balls while his overall ball circulation was also top-notch as he maintained a pass accuracy of 90%.
Most importantly, it was Kimmich’s offensive contribution which caught the eye as the 23-year-old provided two accurate crosses to Lewandowski for his brace. Kimmich’s impressive performance in midfield is indicative of the player’s sheer quality.
Arjen Robben: 9.5/10
It was a vintage performance from Arjen Robben, who scored twice in the first half with both the goals being scored by cutting inside from the right. Aside from that, he kept the Benfica defenders occupied throughout the large parts of the game before being taken off in the 72nd minute.
Robben’s return to full fitness will be a boon for Bayern as they aim to get their domestic campaign back on track.
Thomas Muller: 8.5/10
Following a superb display against Dusseldorf, Muller impressed once again this week. Although he failed to get on to the scoresheet this time, the former World Champion was instrumental behind Bayern’s sheer dominance over their opposition throughout the course of the game.
He made a host of clever runs across the final third, in an attempt to occupy the defenders, which, in turn, allowed more space and freedom for his teammates.
Leon Goretzka: 8/10
Though not much of a threat going forward, Goretzka offered some much-needed support to Kimmich in the middle third of the pitch. The former Schalke midfielder bridged the gap between the defence and the attack and was also a threat from long-range, notably forcing a save from Odisseas Vlachodimos in the second-half.
Franck Ribery: 9/10
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While Robben faded as the game went on, Ribery continued to pillage the Benfica defence with his carving runs down the flanks. His sublime qualities on the ball made it easier for the Frenchman to carry it across the dangerous areas of the pitch as he created a lot of chances for his team.
Ribery’s excellent performance on the night was perfectly capped off by a late goal.
Robert Lewandowski: 9/10
Despite being heavily by a swarm of Benfica defenders, Lewandowski managed to demolish the opposing defence with his clever shielding and most importantly, some sharp finishing.
The Polish international also roared into the record books, becoming the third-fastest player to score 50 Champions League goals while also being the seventh player in the history to achieve the same feat. This will surely help him gain some confidence especially following a wasteful performance against Dusseldorf on the weekend.
Renato Sanches: N/A
Replaced Arjen Robben during the final phase of the game and offered some energy in the final third.
Sandro Wagner: N/A
Came on for Franck Ribery in the 78th minute as Kovac opted for more firepower.
Woo-Yeong Jeung: N/A
The talented South Korean made his professional debut for Bayern, coming on as an 81st-minute substitute for Thomas Muller.