Saturday’s Bundesliga fixtures saw defending champions Bayern Munich extend their lead at the top of the table to 7 points following a win at home against Union Berlin.
With just one win in their last 7 matches, the capital side were expected to be up against it travelling to the Allianz Arena for this Matchday 27 tie.
Bayern’s stadium saw its biggest crowd assemble since early November with 35,000 spectators and the players on the pitch were determined to put out a show for them.
The home side put away the doubts from their last two games which ended in stalemates as Bayern went through the gears to score 3 first-half goals to effectively kill the game.
Kingsley Coman, Tanguy Kouassi and a penalty from Robert Lewandowski capped off a dominating display from the Bavarians. The Polish forward made it a brace on the night for him as he tapped in a low cross from young Jamal Musiala after some neat footwork from the latter.
But surprisingly, Union improved in attack only after going down 4-0 in the game.
The best chance perhaps fell to Japanese midfielder Genki Haraguchi in the 52nd minute. But his low driven strike from outside the box was met confidently by Bayern’s experienced goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who got down quickly to save the effort.
As Union began to play for their pride, the German keeper had a busier second half where he had to make 4 saves.
More than these saves, Neuer was more involved in killing off Union chances much before they could get into a dangerous position, as he resorted to his role as a ‘sweeper-keeper’ on multiple occasions throughout the game.
Welcome to another episode of “how did Neuer end up here” pic.twitter.com/WWKrIBE8IB— Xav Salazar (@XavsFutbol) March 19, 2022
The German was spotted way ahead in midfield by fans on both the left and right flanks calmly keeping possession and scanning for passes like a midfielder.
Neuer sendo Neuer 🐐 pic.twitter.com/z4rrEALlHN— Bayern Galaxy (@BayernGaIaxy) March 19, 2022
Neuer himself popularized the ‘sweeper’ role of a goalkeeper as he made use of it to help out Germany’s defence during their 2014 World Cup triumph. This has now become an expected attribute for top-level goalkeepers to possess and use with the likes of Ederson and Ter Stegen adopting it into their games.
Against Union, most of the time it was Neuer being called into defensive action to sweep, it did look like the German enjoyed venturing out into midfield which is a position he likes.
In the past, then Bayern coach Pep Guardiola has wanted to experiment with Neuer in midfield for the last few league games after having sealed the Bundesliga win with games to spare.
With the 7-point lead in hand and given Dortmund’s poor form, Bayern looks well-positioned to retain the league title and perhaps Neuer could once again attempt a crack at a midfield position if they do have games to spare.