Philipp Max gets no love.
The FC Augsburg left back continues to produce at a terrific rate from his left back position for the Fuggerstädter, but rarely gets mentioned in the same breath as some of the Bundesliga’s other top outside backs, such as Joshua Kimmich, David Alaba, or even Hertha Berlin’s Marvin Plattenhardt and Bayer Leverkusen’s Wendell.
Last season, Max was the catalyst for the Fuggerstädter as the 24-year old directed the offense from his left back position. With two goals and 13 assists, Max was an absolute weapon for Augsburg. So far this season, Max has one goal and two assist across all competitions and has continue to be the engine for the Augsburg attack.
To his credit, Max just keeps pushing the pace from his position and creating offense. While Augsburg has some potent weapons with 24-year old Austrian Michael Gregoritsch and injured Icelander Alfred Finnbogason on its roster, Max is the point guard of the offense.
With his ability to find key passes and provide service on crosses, Max presses forward to support the offense on nearly every possession. Max is also considered to be Augsburg’s top option on set pieces because of his deft touch.
With all of that offense, though, comes what is considered to be Max’s major detriment; a lack of focus defensively. To be clear Max is not a horrid defender, he’s just not always zeroed in on that aspect of his job.; which is kind of important.
There is certainly room for improvement with his on-man defending, physicality, and positional awareness, but when playing for Augsburg, Max knows that he holds a vital role in kick-starting the team’s offense.
Max’s so-so defending is likely why he cannot seem to get any love from Joachim Löw when it comes to competing for a spot on the national team. During the last international break, erstwhile starter Jonas Hector opted to rest and Löw chose to call up Hoffenheim’s Nico Schulz, who was solid, but not spectacular for Die Mannschaft. Schulz offered Löw more of a “stay-at-home” alternative rather than the “offense first” mentality of Max. It was kind of ironic, though, as Schulz scored the game-winning goal against Peru in a friendly on September 9th.
With a little more focus in his own end, perhaps Max could be in line to compete for a call-up in 2019.
Max will have his hands full today for Augsburg as Bayern will likely dominate possession, therefore preventing Max from being able to have a major impact on the game offensively. Against most Bundesliga teams, Max wouldn’t face the same sort of difficulty, but Bayern is a different animal than the rest of the lot.
Max will likely have the task of defending Arjen Robben, which is a difficult proposition for any left back. Robben should be in line for the start after sitting out on Saturday and will be looking to assert himself as a primary scoring option for Die Roten in this contest.
Given how much we expect Bayern to control play and possess the ball, it could be a tough day for Max to fully showcase his offensive prowess. That said, it is also a great opportunity to prove that he can capably defend against a word-class attack as well.