Just before the Supercup kicked off between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, there was a surprise participant in the coin toss with referee Felix Zwayer and BVB captain Sokratis: Sebastian Rudy.
The Bayern summer signing had only started training at his new club a few days earlier and Thomas Müller was officially named as the team’s skipper for the match. However, he was on the touchline getting his right thumb taped, having injured it during the warm-up, so Rudy stepped up.
Watch:Bayern lift the Supercup
As an analogy for what was to transpire over the course of the encounter it could not have been more fitting. The Germany international, a softly-spoken character off the pitch, quietly but confidently ran the game from central midfield on his debut for Carlo Ancelotti’s side, seamlessly continuing the form he showed last season for Hoffenheim and at the Confederations Cup 2017 for Germany.
His match statistics confirm that impression, highlighting Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge’s assessment of him as someone with “enormous strategic know-how who’s got what it takes to shape Bayern’s game.” Rudy had 63 touches of the ball, completed 88 per cent of his passes, won 60 per cent of his challenges and was clinical from the penalty spot in the shootout.
Furthermore, he was involved in the build-up to both of Bayern’s goals, playing a clever pass over the defence for Joshua Kimmich to set up Robert Lewandowski, before taking the free-kick that led to his side’s last-gasp equaliser.
For a man brought in to fill the void left by the retired Xabi Alonso, his first outing could scarcely have gone any better. “I was very well received and feel very comfortable with the team on the pitch,” the 27-year-old said afterwards. “We’re growing together as a team and are on a good path looking forward.
“I like to play the game in my own way, helping my teammates by playing between the defensive and midfield lines and spreading the play across the pitch,” Rudy continued. “You don’t see people like me too often. I’m also quite reserved sometimes, but during a game I can show what I’m all about. I’m 100 per cent sure that this is the right way for me to play.”
And although Rudy’s excellent positional awareness and tactical flexibility mean he could also play at right-back, as he occasionally did at Hoffenheim, it is in central midfield where he wants to make his mark in Bavaria: “That’s my position and it’s where I play best. If I didn’t think I was up to the task I wouldn’t have come here.”
Watch:Carlo Ancelotti reflects on Supercup triumph
Arturo Vidal, Thiago, Corentin Tolisso and Renato Sanches would likely all say the same thing, but Rudy is not intimated by the big names he must now compete with for game time: “I don’t shy away from anyone. Obviously there’s a lot of competition here but I want to learn and I want to push my limits.”
Fighting talk perhaps from the man who arrived on a free transfer and to relatively little fanfare compared to other summer signings, but his Supercup display and quiet determination certainly made a very loud noise in Munich and beyond.
- ^ Bayern Munich (www.bundesliga.com)
- ^ Sebastian Rudy (www.bundesliga.com)
- ^ Sign Rudy up to your Official Fantasy Bundesliga team right here! (fantasy.bundesliga.com)
- ^ Thomas Müller (www.bundesliga.com)
- ^ Hoffenheim (www.bundesliga.com)
- ^ Joshua Kimmich (www.bundesliga.com)
- ^ Robert Lewandowski (www.bundesliga.com)
- ^ Read: Five lessons learned from the Supercup (www.bundesliga.com)
- ^ Arturo Vidal (www.bundesliga.com)
- ^ Thiago (www.bundesliga.com)
- ^ Corentin Tolisso (www.bundesliga.com)
- ^ Renato Sanches (www.bundesliga.com)
- ^ Click here for more Bayern news! (www.bundesliga.com)