TORONTO, Canada—All eyes were on the Canadian.
The big matchup prior to the FC Barcelona-Bayern Munich UEFA Champions League quarter-final was Lionel Messi vs Alphonso Davies.
In a weird way, it made sense to focus in on the fact that a six-time Ballon D’or winner was up against a 19-year-old Canadian who despite shifting to left wing-back last year, has put himself in the conversation as one of the world’s best.
But now as we reflect on the match, should we consider this performance to be a ‘Canadian Heritage moment’? Let’s dive into it.
19-year-old Bayern wonderkid Alphonso Davies on meeting hero Lionel Messi #UCL pic.twitter.com/3WzmxYGFwY— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) August 14, 2020
Davies’ Bayern side entered the match with great confidence, 27 matches unbeaten with 18 wins in a row. The Bavarian club had a reason to strut into Lisbon with swagger.
By the 7th minute, the Bundesliga champions had scored two goals, one through Thomas Muller after a nice bit of link-up play with Robert Lewandowski, and another through David Alaba—who conceded an own-goal moments later in a crazy start to the match.
After the early goals, Davies and Messi would get more involved into the epic dual down Davies’ left flank that we thought we might see.
In the 12th minute, the electrifying full back was released down the flank by Manuel Neuer, only to be tripped up by his own idol, Messi. It was one of four fouls he would suffer in the match, two of the other three coming courtesy Arturo Vidal.
This is a Canadian heritage moment pic.twitter.com/IaIi74ii0h— Vivek Jacob (@vivekmjacob) August 14, 2020
That challenge seemed to invigorate Davies on the wing. The next attack saw him dispatch a lethal cross towards Leon Goretzka, which was just intercepted and headed behind for a corner by Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet.
Settling into the match, on the defensive side, there was not much asked of Davies. Messi played in his usual position on the right side of attack but scarcely ran at defenders, perhaps due to the Canadian’s speed. In one instance, as he was about to head on one of his trademark glides into the box, but Davies was helped on defence by Perisic tracking back.
It was evident Bayern had set up to crowd the Argentinian, and as he only completed three dribbles through 90 minutes, it sure worked.
The German club went into half-time up 4-1. It was the first time in history that Barcelona has conceded four goals in the first half of a Champions League match, setting the stage for what would be an even worse second half.
Alphonso Davies vs Barcelona (1st half)— Jordan Fabian Khan (@Jofkha) August 14, 2020
Accurate passes - 23
Passes - 26
Crosses - 1
Long balls - 3
Accurate long balls - 3
Touches - 34
Duels won - 1
Duels lost - 1
Clearances - 1
Was fouled - 1 (some guy called Messi)
Fouls - 1
Interceptions - 1
Recoveries - 3#BarcaBayern
It was about to be Phonzie’s moment.
After Luis Suarez snatched a goal back for Barca in the 57th minute, drawing the team within two, questions of a comeback would have crossed the minds of all players.
But those thoughts were short lived thanks to ‘The Roadrunner’.
Picking the ball up just past the halfway mark in the 62nd minute, Davies strolled around Messi, left Vidal on the floor, and then took Nelson Semedo into the corner where he would go on to punish him. After gathering him in the corner where he would size him up, Davies would shimmy and skip by Semedo as though he wasn’t even there. It was the type of run towards the byline around a defender that we might have seen Messi make. The thrill of the dribble was finished with a composed pull back assist to his fellow full-back Joshua Kimmich, who tapped the ball into an empty net.
Davies completed five out of five dribbles in the match, and this was by far, the cream of the crop.
ALPHONSO DAVIES IS WORLD CLASS ALERT pic.twitter.com/yjr66geZKD— DAZN Canada (@DAZN_CA) August 14, 2020
The Canadian Phenom was subbed off after an excellent 84 minutes. The switch coming because of an earlier yellow card, but seeing as they were up 6-2 at that point, it made sense to rest the key player for the semifinal. A head collision with Semedo shook Davies temporarily just 10 minutes earlier, so Hansi-Flick may have thought it best to play it safe with their Golden Boy.
Incredibly, the Spanish world beaters would go on to lose an 8-2 in sad fashion, marking the first time since 1949 that they have conceded seven or more goals. It was an embarrassing match for Barcelona fans, a historic match for Bayern Munich fans, and a proud match for the Canada Soccer fans all around the world.
Davies continued to perform at the highest level. In what was the biggest match of his career, he cemented himself as a force to be reckoned with as an attacking left-back, and his performance was applauded by some of the greats in that position.
August 14, 2020
Marcelo and Andy Robertson will have the pleasure of watching Davies and his rampant Bayern side back in action on Wednesday, when they face the winner of Manchester City and Lyon in the semi-final.
Can you believe he’s one of our own?