Holstein Kiel pulled off the big upset in the DFB-Pokal by beating Bayern Munich on penalties in the second round matchup at the Holstein-Stadion on Wednesday night. After finishing level on 2-2 after 90 minutes and extra time, Holstein Kiel won 6-5 on penalties, and it was Marc Roca’s missed that sealed the deal for Die Störche. Roca had come on in the 92nd minute to replace Serge Gnabry, so he did get to play both periods of extra time, but failed to make a meaningful impact.
Speaking after the heart-breaking loss, Hansi Flick offered his support for Roca, recognizing how bad he must’ve felt after failing to convert his spot kick: “I don’t think anyone will blame him. Penalty shootouts are decided through missed penalties. We stand together and we’ll support him, there’s really no reproach against him.”
#Flick über Pechvogel #Roca: "Ich glaube, ihm macht keiner einen Vorwurf. Elfmeterschießen werden durch verschossene Elfmeter entschieden. Es hat leider Marc getroffen, aber wir stehen zusammen. Wir werden ihn unterstützen - wirklich kein Vorwurf an ihn." #FCBayern #KSVFCB— Jonas Austermann (@JonasBA90) January 14, 2021
Hopefully Just a Minor Speed Bump
For Roca, missing a penalty to crash out of the DFB-Pokal in the second round for the first time since 2000 can certainly be demoralizing, but as Flick said, it was a team effort, and on the night, Bayern simply wasn’t good enough. Aside from his missed penalty, Roca really did do anything inherently wrong and boasted a pass completion rate of 84%, had one shot on target, and a cross that led to a chance, only lost possession 7 times (which was low for Bayer players in this match), had 4 touches in Holstein’s box, completed 14 passes in the final third, and also had 5 ball recoveries. By all means, he had a statistically stable presence for only playing roughly 30 minutes, it’s just that the circumstances called for something a bit more than statistically stable.
Roca has struggled to break into the team despite showing well for himself in Bayern’s first round DFB-Pokal win over FC Düren as well his 66 minutes in the 3-1 Champions League win over RB Salzburg before getting a red card by virtue of a second yellow. You could just see how frustrated he was to be sent off in that match because he knew how big of an opportunity it was for him and he had been playing so well that match, but had just mae two unfortunate mistakes.
He also started and played the full 9 minute in the final group stage match win over Lokomotiv Moscow, albeit the match meant (advancement implications) nothing since Bayern had already won the group. Most recently before Holstein Kiel, he came on as a sub in the 2-1 win over VfL Wolfsburg last month and put in a solid 20 minute shift.
For how positive Roca has looked in the few appearances he’s had, the majority of fans have been wondering why Flick doesn’t use him more often. It was telling that last month Flick had taken time after a training session to work 1 on 1 with Roca on 1v1 defensive positioning, re-winning possession, and physical duels. It’s clear that Flick wants Roca to succeed, but there’s still a few small things here and there holding him back from being selected more often.
The missed penalty against Holstein Kiel certainly won’t do anything to help his confidence, but it was important for Flick to come out and get it front of it by offering his full support to the midfielder. Roca’s chances might be few and far between, but there is plenty of football, and thus, plenty of opportunities left this season.