Hansi Flick applauds "incredible" Alphonso Davies after turbo-charged display for Bayern Munich
He may not have got on the scoresheet, but Bayern Munich left-back Alphonso Davies served notice of his world-class abilities as the Bundesliga giants beat Chelsea 3-0 to take a big step towards the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.
Bundesliga fans have been aware of Davies' quality for several months now, with the 19-year-old Canada international starting every game in the Bundesliga since late October, as well as Bayern's final three group games in the Champions League. But his performance at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday has brought one of Europe's rising stars to the attention of the wider footballing world.
Davies was simply relentless, pressing high up the pitch from the early stages and helping Bayern carve out their first chances of the game. And once Serge Gnabry had put the visitors in the driving seat with two quick goals early in the second half, their marauding left-back had greater liberty to roam up the left flank.
On 76 minutes, Andreas Christensen barely had time to register the charging flash of red before Davies was past him, squaring for Robert Lewandowski to tap in his first goal in the Champions League knockout stages in over two years. It was remarkably similar to the assist he had provided for the Polish marksman against Freiburg in mid-December.
"He's blessed with an incredible sprint, the kind we haven't had at Bayern for a long time," declared an impressed Thomas Müller, who also put in a fine performance against the Blues. "He fully deserved the applause from the fans at full-time. Since he's been here, he's learned a great deal, tactically speaking. It was a world-class performance."
Few footballers boast a more remarkable rags-to-riches story than Davies, who was born to Liberian parents in a refugee camp in Ghana and moved to Canada aged five, growing up in Edmonton and eventually earning Canadian citizenship in June 2017. A year later, the Vancouver Whitecaps and Canucks player gaving a moving address at the FIFA Congress in Moscow, and by the end of 2018 he was preparing to make his dream move to Bayern.
Watch: Alphonso Davies under the tactical microscope
Ostensibly signed as a left winger, the teenager has been predominantly deployed as a left-back since his arrival in Bavaria, showing great maturity and tactical intelligence to adapt to one of the modern game's most challenging positions. His incredible pace proved vital at both ends at Stamford Bridge: on two separate occasions, he produced a phenomenal burst to catch up with Mason Mount and prevent the English youngster getting a shot away.
"Davies brings his strengths to the pitch and wins a lot of defensive balls with his pace," Bayern coach Hansi Flick stressed afterwards. "He was originally signed as a winger, but he's doing an incredible job at left-back. His development has been phenomenal."
Gifted with tremendous speed and great technical ability, Davies is another shining example of how young players are given their shot in the Bundesliga, even at Germany's biggest clubs. At 19, he is part of the 2000 generation alongside Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland, who are having a similar impact at Borussia Dortmund. Haaland also made plenty of noise in the Champions League last week, with his two-goal salvo against Paris Saint-Germain giving Lucien Favre's side the edge before the return leg in the French capital next month.
As for Davies, his display in London will no doubt set a few alarm bells ringing for Bayern's future opponents, both domestically and – provided Flick's men can finish the job at the Allianz Arena on 18 March – in the later stages of the Champions League.
"It was a dream come true to play in this stadium, because my Dad supported Chelsea growing up," Davies told Sky, after grabbing his third assist in this season's Champions League. "I think we played well overall, we were defensively sound. We attacked well in the first half and stepped it up in the second."
No question about that. If anyone in European football still hadn't heard of 'Phonzie' before his turbo-charged outing against Chelsea, they know exactly who he is now. And a player with one of the unlikeliest routes into professional football could end up being Bayern's secret weapon as they go in search of more continental glory.
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