TORONTO, Canada—Professional soccer will kick off again in Germany this weekend, resuming a Bundesliga season that was halted by the German Football League (DFL) just over six weeks ago due to the spread of COVID-19.
Canadian soccer fans can rejoice, as Alphonso Davies will be set to take the pitch for Bayern Munich in the latter stages of the delayed season.
The 19-year-old has been a surprise sensation for the Bundesliga leaders, featuring in 21 matches in the league, with another four in the Champions League where the world took notice of his talents.
Alphonso Davies’ parents fled Liberia in the civil war. He was born in a refugee camp in Ghana and moved to Canada when he was 5. Here he is playing beautifully for @FCBayernEN at 19. What a wonderful story.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) February 25, 2020
Bayern returned to training early in May along with fellow clubs in the German league. With two weeks of preparation behind them, the German giants will be in search of extending their narrow four-point lead over second-place Borussia Dortmund.
On Sunday, Davies will most likely start for Bayern at left back, as he started in 15 straight league games prior to the pandemic seizing play. His performance will surely be monitored a lot closer seeing as he had previously put the world on notice, along with the fact that it will be the first of Europe’s major leagues to restart.
Here’s what to expect from Alphonso Davies vs Union Berlin:
Adventurous Runs Leading to Chances Created
As a former winger, the young Canadian has adjusted to the left-back role thanks not only to his obvious footballing brain, but in large part due to his breathtaking pace. And though he uses this to his advantage in getting back for his defensive duties, expect Davies to go forward much more against Union Berlin on Sunday.
Sitting 11th in the Bundesliga, the Berlin side have played with a back three all season, something Bayern’s rapid wingers will be looking at with their eyes peeled. Throw the pace of Davies from left-back into the equation and it could make for a fun match on the wings.
Of the regular starters in Bayern’s squad, Davies has the most sprints per 90 minutes (37). We got a taste of this on Robert Lewandowski’s third goal against Chelsea in the Champions League in February 2020, where Davies showcased his blistering pace topped off with an accurate cross.
Alphonso Davies against Chelsea pic.twitter.com/JoyCCX8ifQ— Bayern & Die Mannschaft (@eMiaSanMia) March 1, 2020
In his 21 appearances in the league, Davies put in 38 crosses for an average of 1.8 per game.
If he uses his wheels to find space in the final third, we could see some devastating crosses for the likes of Lewandowski to feast on as he has in the past.
Not to sound harsh on the teenage sensation as errors will be common all around the pitch, but with this being the first time the youngster has experienced a long lay-off from the game- and at the highest level, he may approach the game more out of excitement and make rash decisions.
In 21 Bundesliga appearances, Davies lost possession an average of 17 times per 90 minutes, which to be fair, looks worse than it is. Attacking players—even full-backs—generally tend to play riskier balls that may put possession in danger. Davies, for instance, could lose the ball for the Bavarian team when he goes on his adventurous runs forward, most commonly in one-two passes played higher up the pitch.
Again, careless giveaways is not something that happens quite commonly throughout a match for Davies, but after not having real match intensity for some time, we may see more mistakes than usual.
Speed works both ways, and if it comes down to backtracking a break towards Manuel Neuer’s goal, the Canadian Wonderboy will have no problem with that. Should he or his teammates lose the ball high up the field with all the possession they’ll have, Union Berlin will be feasting their eyes on chances from counter attacks, and thats when Davies will make the standout defensive plays he’s becoming more known for in Europe.
His defensive recoveries are fascinating and quite common, as he averages 9.1 recoveries per 90 minutes. Recoveries don’t necessarily mean putting in tackles, but more so holding up an attacker, and a lot of that is thanks to his blistering speed when getting back.
Perhaps something to be expected, especially during this strange time with no fans, is that instructions will be more clearly heard. Luckily for Davies playing on the wing, he will receive commands and warnings from the entire coaching staff on the sideline, at least for one half. If there is a problem, Davies could be the first to be notified.
Before the break, Davies was making a name for himself as one of the best left backs in Europe due to his consistent performances across all competitions. With some time to rest (and make hilarious Tik Toks) after a fantastic run in the season, we may see this great entertainer put on a show after this unusual pause in play. Off the back of a new 5-year contract extension, we should expect to see an all around eye catching display from the young Canadian.