Robert Lewandowski needed only one more goal to beat Bayern Munich legend Gerd Muller’s all-time record for most Bundesliga goals in a single calendar year, but yesterday it was looking like he would never get it. VfL Wolfsburg dug deep and Julian Nagelsmann was subbing out his best players, making it seem like the Polish striker might not get another sniff at goal.
With only 5 more minutes remaining, Bayern announced their final substitution — that of Jamal Musiala for Malik Tillman. By taking off one of the most creative players on the pitch in Musiala, Nagelsmann was sealing Lewandowski’s fate. Enter Benjamin Pavard.
Suddenly, there was confusion on the sidelines. Those who were watching on the TV broadcast (most of us, because it was a ghost game) were left baffled. Musiala went to the sideline, but didn’t come off. Then Malik Tillman came on without anyone going off for him. What had happened?
Turns out, when the ball went to the other side of the pitch, Bayern right-back Benjamin Pavard covertly exited the pitch and disappeared into the bathroom. Julian Nagelsmann recalled the incident (via TZ):
We wanted to change. Then Benji came out and said in French that he had to go to the bathroom. I understood that with my modest school French. Then he decided to play for another 15 seconds. He played three or four more passes. And then when the ball was on the other side, he disappeared into the bathroom.
The brilliance of this move only became clear two minutes later, when Jamal Musiala — the player who was supposed to come on for Tillman — went on to assist Lewandowski’s 69th goal of the calendar year. That goal probably doesn’t happen if Pavard stays on the pitch (in more ways than one).
So what did we learn from this weird incident? Well:
- Pavard has played in Germany for five years and still can’t say “coach, I gotta go” in German.
- Nagelsmann speaks French too!
- Subbing Musiala is probably a bad choice.
Of course, I’m not criticizing Benji today, since you can basically credit him for a pre-assist for the goal. Could TAA or Cancelo do that? I doubt it. That’s something the stats won’t tell you.