Coach Hansi Flick has found his starting eleven for the upcoming knockout round of the Champions League against Chelsea (first leg 3-0): At () Joshua Kimmich played as a right-back and Thiago instead in central midfield.
Since Benjamin Pavard’s injury, which in any case costs the actually irreplaceable right-back, the knockout round of the Champions League against Chelsea and, if the qualification is successful, the final tournament may have been at Bayern Bayern’s only one question: leave it Coach Hansi Flick Joshua Kimmich still in his favorite position in central midfield or does he call him back to the right-back position he had filled for years?
On the other hand, a third possibility was not even discussed due to absurdity. Namely, to take Kimmich completely out of the team – but exactly this impression was given shortly before the start of the friendly against Olympique Marseille, the only one of FC Bayern before the Champions League continued. As always, a member of the press department distributed the leaflets and, strangely enough, there were only ten names under the FC Bayern logo, none of which read “Joshua Kimmich”.
Indeed? No, it was just a mistake, it said apologetically. And a few minutes later there were already corrected pieces of paper with eleven names, one of which was “Joshua Kimmich”. Of course, Kimmich played and he played as a right-back as expected due to a lack of alternatives.
Joshua Kimmich: Defensively underwhelmed, actively active
The last time he did that was on December 18 last year in a 3-1 win at SC Freiburg. He then became a central element in the game of FC Bayern. With clever passports, loud commands and overwhelming will to win, he led his team to a double from the championship title and the DFB Cup victory. Had he forgotten how to play right-back in the meantime?
It was just the 4th minute of the game against Marseille and there was reason to be concerned. The ball landed in the right side and as a right-back it is Kimmich’s natural task to throw it back into the game. Almost as if he had never taken a throw-in in his life, he threw the ball directly at the opponent. From this point on, however, Kimmich stabilized. “I’m happy with him,” said Flick after the game. “Jo has aggressively set impulses and closed his side.”
In the defensive game, however, Kimmich was hardly challenged by an extremely uninspired and hesitant Marseille at the latest from Serge Gnabry’s goal to 1-0 (19th). And so he acted more as a risk-seeking pressure maker than as a protective right-back and overpaid one or the other wrong pass – which went unpunished against Marseille, but could be dangerous against Chelsea, who is much more offensive.
In any case, Kimmich was involved in almost every attack against Marseille and this is also demonstrated by his center of action in the real tactical line-up: It was even ahead of those of the two central midfielders Thiago and Leon Goretzka.
Hansi Flick praises Leon Goretzka and Thiago
Until Pavard injured himself, Goretzka had harmonized wonderfully with Kimmich in the central midfield. Against Marseille, he now played alongside Thiago, who had missed much of the post-Corona Bundesliga time due to a groin operation and wants to leave the club after the Champions League final tournament. The interaction between the two did not work outstandingly, but at least solidly.
“They did very, very well,” praised Flick, possibly using at least one “very” too much. “They held their positions very, very well and were playable when things got tight.” But you also have to say: It hardly got really tight. As with Kimmich, one has to be careful when evaluating their performance against the weak opponent.
What Goretzka and Thiago, like the whole team, actually did flawlessly was the intensive pressing. Despite the scorching heat, the FC Bayern players chased every ball in the opposing half, Goretzka and Thiago explicitly praised Flick for their ball conquests.
In particular, noble technician Thiago, whom Flick attested to be “excellent shape”, excelled in this regard: he played most of the duels of all FC Bayern players and won a strong almost 67 percent of them. His six tackles were also top marks on the part of FC Bayern. When he struck a ball spectacularly in the 13th minute, David Alaba loudly praised: “Good thing, Thiago!”
Joshua Kimmich’s screams from the periphery of the field
In the narrow and empty stadium on the FC Bayern Campus, the commands of the players were even more audible than in the ghost games in the big arenas. For example, you could be sure that Kimmich fulfills his role as a noisy leader regardless of his position on the pitch and thus in the periphery of the field. “On, on, on, men!” He screamed at the beginning of the second half.
As for all other players who were not replaced at the break, Kimmich did not continue shortly afterwards. Alvaro Odriozola came into play for him, except Pavard, the only right-back in Bayern’s squad. In his few competitive appearances since arriving from Real Madrid last winter, he was not recommended for appearances in the crucial phase of the Champions League.
And even during his half hour against Marseille, Odriozola remained rather inconspicuous. He actually only appeared when he was more or less desperate from the sideline “Niki!”, “Coco!” or “Javi!” screamed as soon as the substitute Süle, Tolisso or Martinez in the center were on the ball and overlooked him again.
At that time, Kimmich was sitting a few meters away in the stands and could be sure that he would play against Chelsea as a right-back next Saturday.