Football

Thiago Alcântara - Bayern Munich’s forgotten man

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The young Spaniard has recently returned from injury, sparking the German giants into life.

Scoring the winning penalty in a German cup quarter final as well as two important goals in either leg of their recent Champions League clash with Porto, Thiago’s immediate return to the Bayern starting XI suggests this little playmaker may well continue to play an integral part in deciding the what silverware, or lack of, Bayern end up with come the end of the season.

Undoubtedly still impressive every time they run out, Bayern fell flat on their face last year in the Champions League, getting thumped by the scintillating counter attacking style of Real Madrid.

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A year on they are looking to go all the way, and with Barcelona standing in the way of a potential rematch between two of Europe’s biggest footballing giants, the climax to this year’s Champions League looks set to be an exciting one.

THE MISSING INGREDIENT

With Kroos swapping the Allianz for the Bernabéu in the summer, Bayern lost their midfield metronome, and with Thiago out injured, they became ever more reliant on Philip Lahm to fill this void. Despite maintaining an extremely high level of performance, I believe Thiago’s instant reinclusion in the squad shows two things.

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Not only is he a phenomenal footballer, who even after a year out can walk back in to one of the most competitive squads in Europe, but it also shows his importance to the team itself. In the absence of Kroos the onus is on him to keep Bayern ticking over, ensuring the team dominates possession and remains an omnipresent threat to their opposition.

However, it is not just Thiago’s playmaking abilities that are so valuable to his team. He poses a slightly different threat, meaning a reliance on the direct pacy wingers interchanging with Lewandowski upfront is no longer a problem. Thiago brings a heightened intelligence to the game, always being in the right place on the pitch, whether making or receiving a pass, even creating or scoring a goal.

This extra dimension was evident in their mauling of Porto. He popped up inside the box to grab the all important first goal with a neat near post header. The 23 year old then began to dictate proceedings, orchestrating each and every Bayern attack to, as we know, devastating effect. Porto may have scared Bayern in the first leg, but with players of Thiago’s calibre, the result was never really in doubt.

FIESTY FAMILY REUNION

Their next opponents will prove stiffer opposition however. In the form of Barcelona they face an attacking trio in mesmerising form. The combination of Messi, Neymar and Suarez has finally fallen in to place with all three of them scoring plenty of goals, providing them for each other too.

All this means though is that Thiago’s return is an even more timely one. Keeping the ball against a team that not only keeps it well themselves, but has three mercurial talents lying in wait, will be vital. Who better to do so than a talented midfielder trained in that very style?

As I said, both Champions League semi-finals will be great to watch. However, this semi-final in particular has so many implications. Both Thiago, and let’s not forget his manager, Pep Guardiola, will be returning to their old stomping ground, whilst a potential sibling ‘rivalry’ is also on the horizon with Thiago's brother Rafinha potentially lining up for the Catalan giants.

With Thiago back in the team and Bayern firing on all cylinders, there is no doubt they will be fearless heading in to this tie. Nevertheless, stopping the likes of Messi and co. will require a herculean effort and it will no doubt be an extremely competitive affair, one I feel Thiago will play a huge part in deciding, potentially breaking the hearts of his former employers. 

The Barcelona versus Bayern tie is a mouth-watering prospect, promising to be a must-watch encounter in more ways than one.

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Topics:
Football
UEFA Champions League
Bayern Munich
Barcelona

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