Another year, another match, another Robert Lewandowski goal. The Polish striker has shown no signs of slowing down with age, as he notched yet another strike in Bayern Munich’s 4-0 win over Hertha Berlin. Thomas Muller, Thiago Alcantara and Ivan Perisic were the other goalscorers, as Bayern recovered from a frustrating first half to move into second place in the Bundesliga table. Despite remaining four points behind leaders RB Leipzig, most bookmakers still consider the defending champions favourites to win the title yet again, with some offering odds of 4/7 on Bayern to retain their title, with Leipzig at 5/2 and even 7/4 at some outlets. Fans looking to back either of these teams can click here.

The strike took Lewandowski to a remarkable 31 goals in all competitions, with just about half the season done. It was his 20th goal in the Bundesliga this season, drawing him level with Timo Werner in the race for the Torjägerkanone. Here too it seems as if the Bayern man is the favourite, with odds of 2/7 to be top of the goalscoring charts at the end of the season, compared to Werner at 9/4. However, while Lewandowski’s goals have been crucial in helping Bayern recover from a torrid start, there is arguably another player who is even more vital to their efforts at the moment – Thiago Alcantara.

Due to Bayern’s dominance of the ball in almost every match, there is not much defensive responsibility placed on their midfielders. Thiago is known for his technical brilliance and playmaking ability, but it has been the defensive work that he has done this season that has been crucial for Bayern as well. He is able to win the ball back without having to commit too many fouls, and further, he is able to turn defence into attack instantly, playing the ball out wide from a deeper position in midfield for the full-backs.

If the space out wide is unavailable, Thiago is able to use his technique to play passes through the lines centrally to feed Lewandowski, or into the channels for Serge Gnabry and Perisic to make diagonal runs onto. His ability on the ball has been vital for Bayern, and it will be even more crucial in the race for the Bundesliga title as well as in the Champions League, where the margins for error are tiny and his playmaking ability could be the difference. While Lewandowski has carried Bayern at times this season, it is on Thiago’s shoulders that a lot of the weight for the rest of the campaign rests.