Thomas Müller and Robert Lewandowski both grabbed a brace and the headlines but it was Kingsley Coman, the 21-year-old French winger, who deserves the most credit for his efforts.
Starting last night’s match against Beşiktaş along with James Rodríguez at the expense of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry, Coman gave one of his most mature performances to date on the left wing.
In beginning to live up to the potential he has promised for so long, Coman now looks to be the most important wide player for the Bavarians.
As part of a team packed full of experience, his youthful energy is greatly needed to bring balance to the side.
Yet his clinical and controlled performance against the Turkish side hints that he has enough to carry his team's hopes as much as any other player within their ranks.
A new start
Having suffered injuries through many of his recent seasons, Coman’s progress as a player has often felt stunted.
Following a two-year loan spell from Juventus, however, Bayern felt they’d seen enough to convince them to exercise an option in making Coman’s move permanent towards the end of last season.
This season, he’s remained relatively injury-free and is finally beginning to establish himself as a key member of Jupp Heynckes' team. As the most-used wide-forward for Munich during their current campaign, he is now the main hope to replace the 34-year-old duo of Ribéry and Robben.
Much of Bayern’s early charge this season has rested on the shoulders of Robben who has managed to maintain an impressively high standard. But while Robben has continued to sparkle in tandem with Joshua Kimmich on the right wing this season, Heynckes has to carefully manage how he uses the Dutch winger.
This season has, therefore, been viewed as a make-or-break campaign for Coman with young stars such as Leon Bailey and Christian Pulisic being eyed as potential summer targets. The extended run of games in the team appears to be hugely beneficial to the French international if last night’s performance is anything to judge by.
Building on speed
It was the blistering pace and tricky dribbling skills which first marked Coman as a talent. However, there is now more end-product developing in his game.
For a player who was often guilty of running past defenders because he could, against Beşiktaş he took a more measured approach.
During the first half, his constant probing of Adriano may not have yielded the excitement which some of his past displays produced but he retained possession far better. He also finished the game with a 94% passing accuracy which included making 3 key passes.
In playing this more patient game, Bayern could afford to focus more of their attacks down his left wing without risk and it ultimately led to their breakthrough.
David Alaba may have picked up the assist for Müller’s opening goal but it was all made possible by Coman’s trickery and cross from the left byline. This wasn’t the only occasion either and Müller should have taken a hat-trick from this game when Coman’s 70th-minute cross was headed over the bar by the German striker.
Having seemingly heeded Heynckes' advice to play with his head up, Coman now appears to have more purpose to his forward forays. Not only is his crosses into the box now finding intended targets, it also saw him cleverly cut in-field and drift into space to score Bayern’s second goal last night.
More importantly for Munich, Coman also appears to be more willing to shoot on goal from distance now. Of the four shots he took against Beşiktaş, one was blocked but the other three were all on target.
As a right-footed player who prefers to play on the left, this is a vital improvement he needed to make. An improved shooting ability from long-range makes him a much more dangerous player due to this ability to cut inside and shoot with his stronger foot, a trait Robben has profited heavily from on the opposite wing.
As a result of his increased observations and awareness, Coman was an effective part of the structured side fielded by Heynckes. The partnership he has grown with Alaba along the left wing can now rival that of the Robben-Kimmich link-up on the left.
They may not have been extensively tested defensively by the ageing Beşiktaş side. However, Coman won his only attempted tackle which came just after the interval.
With Rodríguez receiving a ball to the face which cut short his game, Robben’s introduction made a more dramatic impact to the match during a more open second half. By then much of the hard work had already been completed by Munich though.
A 1-0 lead established and the ageing Beşiktaş players tiring after being reduced to 10-men in the 16th-minute, the stage was set for Munich’s forwards to exploit the situation. Coman continued to work to his disciplined gameplan after the break and despite producing several golden opportunities for his teammates, it was his colleagues who grabbed the limelight.
With more performances like this, it won’t be long before Coman is the name recognised as being critical to Munich’s success this season.
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