After a run of starts domestically for Bayern Munich, Alphonso Davies got his first start in the Champions League Wednesday, as he and teammates cruised to a 2-0 victory at home.
Bayern Munich started life without departed manager Niko Kovac on Wednesday, as they took on Olympiacos in the Champions League on Wednesday. With interim manager Hansi Flick at the helm, it was a good chance for many of their players to recapture form, especially on the defensive end of the pitch, as they look to rescue a slow start to their domestic campaign.
One area that they have not struggled in, however, has been the UEFA Champions League, where they swept their first three games to sit first in Group B with 9 points after 3 matchdays. In a group with Tottenham, Red Star Belgrade and Olympiacos, they had so far looked like the early favourite to top the table and progress comfortably.
As their injury crisis continues, with defenders Niklas Sule and Lucas Hernandez both out injured, it has given a shot for young Canadian Alphonso Davies to slot in. While his preferred position is out wide as a winger, he can also play at left back, and it’s been in that role which he has played for Bayern recently, having made 3 consecutive starts coming into Wednesday.
It was under those circumstances that allowed Davies to continue that run of starts on Wednesday, as it was announced that he was going to start versus Olympiacos, giving him his first-ever Champions League appearance.
Bayern looked comfortable to start their first game under Flick, controlling possession, only allowing 1 good chance from the Greek side in the first half, as Lazar Randelovic missed a glorious chance after a David Alaba giveaway. On the other end, they found a way to generate a couple of chances, none better than a pair of Robert Lewandowski headers.
The most in-form man in Europe’s top 5 leagues, Lewandowski was unable to best Jose Sa, as his first header was denied from in-tight, while his second attempt hit the post after a deflection off of fellow teammate Benjamin Pavard. Along with a couple of chances from Leon Goretzka, and a nice run from Kingsley Coman, it was a busy half for Bayern, but they were unable to convert on any of their chances.
They continued to press into the second half, as Leon Goretzka found himself unmarked at the back post for a header, but Sa stood strong to his effort. As his team chased an unlikely away result, the Portuguese goalkeeper was putting in a workmanlike performance, parrying away countless overtures from the German side.
With all of the chances they were creating, it was no surprise when Bayern finally broke the deadlock in the 68th minute, as Lewandowski was quickest to a Coman ball into the near post. He flicked it pass a hapless Sa in the Olympiacos goal, giving Bayern the lead, quelling concerns of a possible draw or shocking loss.
Lead in hand, Bayern would cruise to the finish line, as second-half substitute Ivan Perisic put away a cross from Corentin Tolisso to double their lead.
For Davies, it marked a successful debut in the world’s biggest club cup competition, as he went the full 90 minutes at left back. He helped Bayern keep a clean sheet, putting in a team-high 4 tackles and adding 3 interceptions, putting in an overall steady defensive performance.
On the offensive end, he was a little quieter than most have come to expect of him, as he stayed conservative, but he had a few offensive flashes. Despite rarely pushing forward, he still had the second-most successful dribbles on Bayern with 3, and put in some dangerous balls when he overlapped down that left side. He had two audacious hits at goal, including one off the volley that went just wide, and looked comfortable for the most part, despite having to keep more of a defensive posture.
It bodes well for the young Canadian, who will look to carry his form into Canada’s clash versus the United States in just over a week’s time. Before then, he still has a chance to feature against Borussia Dortmund in a huge game for Bayern, which would be massive for his confidence heading into the international break. After looking good against the US in the first of these 2 games, despite not playing much with Bayern before that last window, he should be even better with this batch of playing time that has come his way.
With the Canada Men’s National Team squad dropping tomorrow, we’ll be keeping an eye on Davies and his fellow national teammates, as they look to prove that their historic victory over the US was no fluke. With goalkeeper Milan Borjan later featuring today in the Champions League with Red Star, and Jonathan David, Atiba Hutchinson and Scott Arfield all playing tomorrow in Europa League play, it’s an exciting week for Canadian Soccer, and that will only continue on into next week.