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Niko Kovac almost subbed out Benjamin Pavard after early Mainz goal

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Things could’ve gone differently had Kovac pulled the trigger on this sub.


After going 1-0 down to Mainz inside of 7 minutes, Bayern Munich came back to score 6 unanswered goals en route to a comprehensive win at the Allianz Arena. Benjamin Pavard was slow getting across and closing down Jean-Paul Boetius on the cross that led to his headed opener, and Pavard had made several other mistakes in the beginning of the match. He wound up scoring the first of Bayern’s 6 goals in the 36th minute, but Niko Kovac was very close to subbing him off early on in the first half, per kicker.

Kovac had decided again to play Joshua Kimmich in the number 6, holding midfield role with a back four of David Alaba, Niklas Sule, Lucas Hernandez and Pavard. In the opening stages of the match, especially after Mainz’s goal, Kovac was frustrated with some of Pavard’s poor passing out of the back, his positioning at times, and his defending on the cross that led to the goal. He had Corentin Tolisso start his warm up routine on the sidelines and was planning on subbing off Pavard for Tolisso and pushing Kimmich back to right back. Kovac didn’t wind up making the substitution, though, and it wound up being the right decision when Pavard equalized for Bayern with a lovely volley in the 36th minute off of Ivan Perisic’s cross.

While his goal did prove to be a turning point in the match for Bayern, who weren’t playing their best brand of football in the opening stages of the match, Pavard feels that it was far from his best performance. Mainz’s goal, he said, was his fault, and he still feels that he should’ve played far better despite scoring a beautiful goal en route to a convincing win:

The goal was my fault. I absolutely wanted to correct this mistake. Then I scored a goal and assisted another one. It’s a mixed feeling. I never stop pushing.