The 3-1 loss didn’t entirely reflect the overall balance of play between Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen, but Niko Kovac was dealt his first loss of 2019, snapping Bayern’s seven match win streak in the league. Individually, it was a mixed bag of performances across the board for Bayern, but few players in the squad flourished in what was an overall frustrating team performance.
From the outset, Joshua Kimmich was deployed as a central midfielder alongside Leon Goretzka by Kovac, but was then switched back to his natural right-back role after Kovac had made some tactical and personnel changes in the second half. Kimmich has been utilized as a holding midfielder a handful of times this season, and it is his preferred position. The 23-year-old was rather critical of his own performance at the BayArena, however. Speaking after the match (via Bild), he reflected on some of the poor outcomes he had while he was playing in midfield in the first half:
Right at the start, I had two or three ball losses in situations in which you actually cannot make any. I also wasn’t able to give the team as much with my own possession during the game.
Kimmich also said that it is always difficult to switch positions during the match, but moving back to defense was a necessary move by Kovac once Bayern had gone 2-1 down and had to chase the game. Kimmich didn’t feel that his performance improved at all, either, once he was moved back to defense:
It’s always an adjustment. I’ll go to bed dissatisfied tonight not only because of the loss, but also because of my performance.
On one hand, it is always concerning to see how much Bayern’s midfield struggles without Thiago present. On the other hand, it is refreshing that Kimmich was well aware of the performance he put forward — and that he will not need a reminder of all the mistakes he made in midfield. “Thiagoretzka” (Thiago and Leon Goretzka) has arguably been the dual midfield pivot that seems to generate the most success and consistency for Bayern, and it shows how much worse off they are when that pairing is not the central midfield core.
Is Joshua #Kimmich the best right back in the world? pic.twitter.com/DjouZ5ta7l— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) January 28, 2019
We still think so ;)