Alphonso Davies had already tested that assist out this season – in two parts
Bayern Munich’s victory over Barcelona was so dominant that it’s tough to speak of the brilliance of just one player. However, in another way, it was all about Alphonso Davies.
While the Canadian wasn’t the only star of the 8-2 demolition, his role served as a microcosm of just how far apart the two teams are right now.
It was just the latest moment in an arc so unrealistically steep it belongs on Mario Kart. And the really scary thought is how much better the teenager can still become.
But he’s already pretty bloody good, and the Barcelona game certainly isn’t the only time he has proven that this season.
You don’t get a nickname like Road Runner without being absolutely rapid, and Davies showed us that with his assist for Robert Lewandowski in a 3-1 win at Freiburg.
Beginning the move deep inside his own half, the Canadian covers 80 or so yards in a manner of seconds thanks to a tidy one-two and an outrageous sprint before having the calmness to roll the ball across into Lewandowski’s path.
However, you also don’t get the nickname Road Runner without convincing opponents to paint realistic tunnels onto the side of mountains and race straight into them, or by leaving tantalising prizes hovering off the edge of cliffs.
In this instance it’s Nicolas Hofler who is left kicking his legs after sliding full-blooded off the precipice, eventually shrugging his shoulders and waiting for his broken body to leave a crater in the ground below as birds fly around his head.
Were Davies a speed merchant alone, it might be easier to deal with him. But he has shown plenty of times that you can’t solve the problem just by slowing him down and reducing him to enclosed spaces.
Cologne gave this a go, with Dominick Drexler and Mark Uth assuming things were more or less under control, especially with Ellyes Skhiri on his way to help out
Unfortunately for them, the only thing quicker than Davies’ feet is his mind, and he trusts they’ll simultaneously let their guard down for long enough to provide him with a gap to run through.
The value of waiting is something younger players can often struggle with, especially when speed of movement is such an integral part of their game. That Davies already has this locked down should be worrying for anyone who faces him.
And this is how we saw him thrive against Barcelona, combining elements of both of the moments above to provide a thrilling assist for Joshua Kimmich.
The start of the play was, in effect, Davies pulling down Nelson Semedo’s pants and then waiting for the right-back to return them to waist height just so he could pull them down again.
He may as well have told Semedo what he was doing and offered him the easy way or the hard way, only to then pick up on the Barca man’s hesitation as a sign of insufficient deference.
We can see the defender wave an arm early in the move, as if calling out for help in full knowledge of what is about to happen. Knowing what Davies is capable of, or even what he’s going to do, is useless if you don’t have a way of stopping it.
Davies is engaged with a game of ‘say when’ with Semedo which takes just a matter of seconds but must feel like hours, to the point that the ball hitting the net must feel like sweet relief.
"He's just turned Nelson Semedo inside out! An experienced right-back… Whoops!"
Wow, Alphonso Davies is just so difficult to stop 🔥
— Football on BT Sport #Club2020 (@btsportfootball) August 14, 2020
You can look at Alphonso Davies within this Bayern set-up and conclude you have no hope of stopping him, but that’s not even the scariest part.
This is someone who started out further forward in a Vancouver Whitecaps shirt and is still theoretically learning the ropes at left-back. This is someone who is still just 19 years of age. And this is someone who will have Leroy Sane playing in front of him next season.
It’s going to be a long few years for anyone trying to stop him.
By Tom Victor