‘He really got stuck in’
Wed, 24/10/18, 14:30
Gnabry repays trust with performance
Even being voted Man of the Match does not ensure avoiding controls. After his impressive performance in the 2-0 away win at AEK Athens, serge Gnabry had to be patient before he could have his well deserved shower. The striker had to undergo a dope test and then face questions from numerous members of the media after UEFA declared him to be the best player in the Champions League match.
Gnabry certainly deserved that award. On the left side of the Bayern attack, the 23 year-old constantly posed a threat and again and again tied up several opponents with his dribbling at pace, thereby creating more room for his team-mates as well as having attempts on goal himself. Hasan Salihamidzic later called him a "bright spot" in the game. "He did well and was prepared to have a go. He really got stuck in," said the sporting director.
Those characteristics paid off in the second half: With 63 minutes on the clock, the U21 European Champion raced towards the opposition goal, passed back to Rafinha who only had to slip the ball to a completely unmarked Robert Lewandowski to double the lead at 2-0. Two minutes earlier, he put Mats Hummels through in a similar fashion and his cross eventually found Javi Martinez in a position to open the scoring and give FCB the lead. "Today he had two or three very good moves in the first half and in the second half he provided an assist," said Niko Kovac who saw that Gnabry "now has more and more self-confidence and I hope that he can carry on like that in the future."
After his start at Wolfsburg, the Bayern coach also fielded him from the start in the second match after the international break in Athens – Gnabry has repaid that trust with good performances. "Serge has done really well, not just in today's game but also at Wolfsburg," vouched his coach. At the beginning of the season, Gnabry had problems with his thigh but thanks to hard work in training he has now become a key factor in the Bayern attack.
"He wants to improve" and "he's working hard on his own game" – "a real pro," praised Arjen Robben who is happy with the commitment of his team-mate: "I'm always in the gym but now I have a friend with me. He always prepares really well," said the Dutchman who is suspended for Saturdays Bundesliga game at Mainz. There is a fair chance the versatile forward Gnabry may replace the stalwart on the wing.
Still to score in a Bayern shirt
The winger would then have the possibility of overcoming a final defect in his game. "We've missed a number of chances that has cost us points in other games. We've recognised the problem and worked hard on it in training," admitted Gnabry after the match in Athens. But, "the main thing is that we win as a team," said the 23-year-old who is still waiting to score his first goal for the German record champions.
Gnabry did come close against AEK on 39 minutes when he shot against the side netting. Sporting director Salihamidzic still believes that Gnabry will soon make the breakthrough. "I, like everybody else, am expecting him to score," demanded the 41-year-old with a wink before adding: "But he's doing well and giving his all. I'm very happy."