World Cup Bayern-watch. Russia 2018, semi-finals

In what is the penultimate FC Bayern-centric report from Russia, the Reds look set to extend their record of having a player in every World Cup final since 1982. As a nice added bonus, there’s a former Munich man in there too.

Tolisso joins the club

Corentin Tolisso became the latest FC Bayern München player to reach a World Cup final, and his part in Les Bleus’ semi-final victory over Belgium was minimal. However, he still had enough time to give us a nice little cameo.

Coming on for Blaise Matuidi with just four minutes of normal time remaining, Tolisso made use of the space vacated by the desperate Belgians, and came close to scoring France’s second goal. His shot was well struck and on target, but was excellently turned behind by Belgian ‘keeper Thibaut Cortois.

Had Coco found the back of the net, it would have maintained another record. Since 1994, there has been at least one Bayern scorer in every World Cup finals tournament. Interestingly, the last blank was drawn in 1990 – the year when Germany won their third world title in Rome.

Tolisso is second in line to start in the Moscow showpiece, behind Matudi. To keep the World Cup record going, he hax to get some pitch time. The last few matches, where he has replaced Matudi at right-back, suggests that this should happen. Can he continue the goal-scoring record too?

Super Mario in Moscow

In the other semi-final, Croatia overcame an early shock to overhaul surprise team England. In a match that went to extra time after a tense 1-1 draw, the winner was scored by none other than former Bayern striker Mario Mandžukić.

It was a typical late show by the gritty striker, who once again showed that he is the man for the big occasion. It also showed is Bayern fans what we have been missing in recent years. Mandzu is a player who may not be as prolific as the bigger and more storied names, but always seems to pull the rabbit of his hat when it really matters.

The debate among Bayern fans will go on, of course. Robert Lewandowski’s overall numbers may be better, and he will come out on top in 75% of the matches he plays in. But in those other 25%, he has been lacking. The pivotal encounters where having a fighter like Mandžukić may have made the difference.

Lewy is a big player. But Mandzu is a big game player. I would happily trade five goals against Wolfsburg for one against Real Madrid.

(There has also been at least one Internazionale player in every World Cup team since 1982 too. But let us not get too concerned with that).