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Gifted but modest

Team comes first for 'Brazilian' Thiago

We are only a few weeks into 2014, but we already have a serious contender for Goal of the Season. Thiago’s brilliantly executed bicycle kick in stoppage time against VfB Stuttgart on Wednesday evening had millions of football enthusiasts all over the world purring. The happiest of all were the Bayern fans, because the Spaniard’s first goal in the German top flight meant the treble winners celebrated yet another victory.

“It was a sensational goal,” enthused Dante after the last-gasp effort from the 22-year-old, who also had a vital hand in FCB’s 75th-minute equaliser: his precision free-kick enabled Claudio Pizarro to head home his 79th goal in a Bayern shirt. It was a momentous strike too, as it means the Peruvian is now tenth on the all-time goalscoring roll of honour at the club, a position he previously shared with Roy Makaay.

“We kept trying for the win right to the end,” Thiago said afterwards, a model of modesty despite stamping his authority all over an intense encounter, and not just due to his dramatic winner: he played the ball 129 times on Wednesday evening, more than any other man on the park, giving yet more evidence of his skill as a distributor and midfield architect.

Gifted team player

The Spaniard has left a strong impression on his team-mates as well. “He’s a great lad. I’m delighted for him,” said Dante, laughing as he described Thiago’s acrobatic scoring effort as “100 percent Brazilian.” The scorer himself reckoned it was all down to instinct: “You don’t really think about something like that. To be honest, the ball could have landed in the top tier of the stand. But it went in, and I’m really proud.“

“It was super. and so important!“ said Pizarro. Summer signing Thiago is only really beginning to hit his stride after missing most of the early autumn with injury. As a result he has only made 14 appearances for FCB so far, but he has settled in immediately. The schemer, who boasts outstanding close control and dictates the pace of the game with smart and rapid passes, already has two goals and four assists to his name.

The Spaniard’s maiden Bundesliga goal on Wednesday evening was obviously vital, but it was only of incidental interest on the bus trip back to Munich. “We talked more about the win than the goal,” revealed the 22-year-old. And that’s what makes him such a perfect player for the men in red: the team comes first.