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Bayern Munich Vs. Tottenham Hotspur Analysis: 5 Things We Learned From Champions League Match

Bayern Munich beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 in today’s Champions League match at the Allianz Arena.

With both teams having already qualified for the Champions League knockout stage, this match was effectively a dead rubber. So it’s tempting to ask what could be learned from the match, given the result makes no discernible difference to either side.

But, with both teams still settling in under new managers, there are insights to draw from the game. Here are five things we learned from the match.

Jose Mourinho trusts Eric Dier

The recently-arrived Spurs boss is known to be an admirer of Dier and tonight, in a much-changed Spurs team, the England midfielder was picked to anchor the midfield. Not only that, Mourinho made Dier his captain. With nothing at stake, this was an opportunity for Mourinho to play a few fringe players, but Dier was not the only possible choice as captain. Other senior players like Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose could also have taken the armband.

Dier is getting an extended run in the team as he looks to get back to full fitness but this was a difficult match for him. Spurs only managed 30% possession and were well beaten. Dier didn’t impress, but few Spurs players did.

This might be the last time we see Christian Eriksen start for Spurs

It’s unfair to be too critical of individual players given Spurs were completely outplayed (by a Bayern side featuring a few more first team regulars), but this was another disappointing performance from Eriksen. The Dane is clearly heading for the exit door, whether in January or next summer.

Since he made his desire to leave clear, his level has dropped and at times he looks disinterested. Mourinho hasn’t started him in the four Premier League matches since he joined as manager. It would surely be better for everyone if Eriksen moved in January, when Spurs can still get a fee for him. With his contract up in the summer, he’ll be good value in the winter transfer window. The question is, will one of his preferred clubs make a bid?   

Sessegnon can play a big part this season

On his first start for Spurs, the 19-year-old provided the team’s best moment when he smashed home his first Champions League goal. Sessegnon, remember, has been playing senior soccer since he was 16 and made 35 Premier League appearances – scoring two goals – for Fulham last season.

There is some debate over whether his best position is left wing or left back. Against Bayern, perhaps wary of exposing the youngster, Mourinho played him on the wing with the experienced Danny Rose behind him at left back. As well as his goal, Sessegnon stretched the Bayern defence with his pace and put in a solid performance. At home, against defensive opposition, Mourinho may give him a try as a forward-thinking left back. He’s certainly earned another chance, in either position.

Other fringe players need another chance

Sessegnon was the bright spark but several of Spurs’ other fringe players deserve another opportunity after tonight. In defence, Juan Foyth didn’t do too much wrong but was still part of a backline that conceded three goals, and that’s with Bayern’s leading scorer Robert Lewandowski on the bench. To his right, Kyle Walker-Peters had a challenging match. He struggled against the pace of Kingsley Coman and, after he went off injured, the guile of Ivan Perisic. Serge Aurier, the regular right back under Mourinho, will feel confident about keeping his place for the Premier League match at Wolves on Sunday.

Another given gametime was Giovani Lo Celso. The creative Argentine midfielder worked hard but, asked to provide cover ahead of Walker-Peters on the right, he also had little joy. Lo Celso was replaced after 65 minutes. Mourinho is known to like to stick to his favourite starting 11 once he has decided upon it, but it would be cruel to cast aside Lo Celso based on this match. During the busy Christmas period he should get another chance, hopefully for him in a match where Spurs has more of the ball.

With Coutinho, Bayern can do damage to any team

After this win, Bayern finished top of the group with six wins from six, making them only the sixth team in Champions League history to have a 100% record at this stage. Yet in the Bundesliga, which it has won for the past seven seasons, Bayern is seventh.

The club is set to make a decision on whether to persist with interim manager Hansi Flick, but, whoever is in charge for the last 16, this is still a strong Bayern side. It thrashed Spurs 7-2 in London and won comfortably today without Lewandowski, while Thomas Muller started on the bench. The man-of-the-match though, was Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian deservedly scored Bayern’s third and had another thunderous shot tipped on to the bar. Yes, Spurs gave him too much space and this was not a match played at an electric pace. And yes, Bayern’s defence looked open at times. But with Coutinho performing like this, no team will want to draw the Bavarians in the next round.

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