FC Bayern Munich is now threatening to lose its third title of the season in the Bundesliga. On the long list of worries and problems, it is worth taking a look at the midfield. Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich are set there – but do they really fit together?
“The 1:3 absolutely broke our necks,” said Thomas Müller, explaining the almost lethargic second half of FC Bayern Munich in Mainz. The result: a defeat that brought Borussia Dortmund back to the top of the Bundesliga table. But this third goal by Aarón Martin in the 79th minute was not only significant because Bayern didn’t have an answer ready.
In principle, he was a symbol for a lot of things that are currently not going on at Bayern. Because it is worth focusing on the center of midfield on this long list. A simple, high ball flew into the penalty area of the record champions at the third goal of FSV Mainz 05 – where Bayern initially had a man advantage.
But Mainz reacted quickly after Leon Goretzka’s unfortunate extension, pushed and suddenly it was five-a-side for FCB right in front of Yann Sommer’s goal. Three players from Mainz were completely blank away from the ball. Josip Stanisic is the focus of the analysis because he didn’t manage to clarify the situation beforehand. But even if the conclusion hit directly in the far corner, the question must be asked how the second post and the backcourt can be so blank.
Bayern Munich: Leon Goretzka is currently more of a problem than a solution
One answer to this question is Goretzka. The 28-year-old was wearing the captain’s armband at the time because Müller and Joshua Kimmich had already been substituted. So it should automatically be a landmark. Especially for players like Stanisic, who urgently needed one in the closing stages.
But Goretzka wandered around, trotted from position to position without really helping. When he conceded the third goal, his extra time was less bad than his sometimes haphazard running behavior afterwards. Instead of securing the second post, he ran into an area that had already been secured by colleagues Matthijs de Ligt and Dayot Upamecano. No staggering in the penalty area, the second post is completely free.
The goal fell differently, but it could also have come from a chipball. Then more people would have talked about what Goretzka is actually doing there. The national player is completely beside himself this calendar year. Against Manchester City he lost his aggressiveness completely.
And yet he is allowed to play again and again under Thomas Tuchel from the start. He played through against Mainz, although he was clearly weaker than his midfield colleagues. Which is remarkable because Kimmich, Müller and Jamal Musiala didn’t have a good day either. again.
FC Bayern Munich: The squad is a problem in midfield
The fact that the coach continues to rely on Goretzka is probably due to the fact that he has no alternatives in the squad. Ryan Gravenberch is challenged here and there by fans, but the Dutchman has yet to show he can help this deeply troubled team. He can’t do worse than Goretzka at the moment, but apparently not much better either.
The squad, which is also a finding from the past few days and weeks, is badly balanced. In midfield, that becomes clearer than in any other position. With Goretzka, Kimmich and Gravenberch, FC Bayern have three players who have their greatest strengths in the eight. Musiala and Müller can also play there, but they are very offensively oriented.
There is no such thing as a real six. And certainly not an anchor six like Tuchel had in Dortmund, Paris and London. A Julian Weigl at the level of FC Bayern. Under Tuchel, today’s Gladbacher was the lynchpin in midfield. He held his position, hardly lost a ball and also did an important job against the ball between the two back fours of the 4-1-4-1.
Kimmich can play this role on the one hand, but gambles too much on the other. He also had two or three scenes against Mainz in which he almost lost the ball in his own penalty area. His nature is that of an eight. He can best bring his strengths to bear with defensive tasks and offensive freedom. But above all with someone at his side who has his back and relieves him in the build-up of the game.
FC Bayern Munich: The big mistake about Joshua Kimmich
It’s not Goretzka. Born in Bochum, he is too wild and sometimes undisciplined in attack and defense to cope with such a task. It is one of the biggest misconceptions of recent years that this double six is the best possible configuration for FC Bayern. When the Munich team won the Champions League under Hansi Flick, Benjamin Pavard failed. At the final tournament in Lisbon, Kimmich played right-back. The man in the control center: Thiago.
When discussing the sixth position these days, the name of Javi Martínez is often mentioned. But that’s not the profile you need. Thiago is the type of player Bayern miss the most. A pressure-resistant and technically highly gifted playmaker who simultaneously captures balls and secures the center. A stabilizer.
Kimmich and Goretzka are not stabilizers. They each have too many weaknesses that have to be compensated for by a partner. In the case of Goretzka, the deficits in ball possession are particularly striking. Against Manchester City he hardly managed to turn the ball or create space gains. He also had problems with it against Mainz, preferring to let the ball slap back rather than turn it up.
In doing so, he delays the game, slows down the pace and ensures that the load on Kimmich increases. The in turn is obviously overwhelmed with this. At the beginning of the year he was consistently taken out of the game by opponents through man marking and found no access.
FC Bayern Munich: Is Konrad Laimer the wrong newcomer?
This problem should probably be solved by Konrad Laimer. There have been multiple reports in recent months that the Leipzig native will wear Bayern’s shirt next season. In any case, he is strong in a duel. But is he also the type of player that Kimmich needs by his side?
doubts are warranted. Finding a second Thiago should be like looking for a needle in a haystack. But the fact that Laimer could be someone who defines himself primarily through athletic qualities is indicative of the great misjudgment that Kimmich alone is sufficient as a game designer.
FC Bayern’s midfield headquarters will also be a topic of conversation in the coming weeks, months, maybe years. In the complex crisis in which the record champions are currently finding themselves, the midfield is by no means the only problem, perhaps not even the biggest. But a lot can be explained about the weak axis.
Kimmich, Goretzka, Müller – at Bayern it’s time for a little change. That doesn’t mean these players have no future. But their tactical roles should be questioned. Müller said another important sentence in Mainz: “Our game is very error-prone.” The non-functioning midfield axis is one reason for this.
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