After taking a look at how the defense performed under Julian Nagelsmann so far this season, it’s time to move onto the midfield. Bayern Munich faced an acute shortage of fit midfielders this season, for reasons that weren’t necessarily related to actual fitness. Doubtless, this had an effect on the teams’ performance, which you’ll see reflected in the ratings.
So, without further ado, let’s look at how Bayern fared in the middle of the park this season ...
Joshua Kimmich: D+
Minutes Played: 1,539
Let’s get something straight, Joshua Kimmich is almost certainly the best midfielder in the world, and certainly the best midfielder at Bayern Munich — that hasn’t changed. But that doesn’t matter if he’s sitting at home quarantined because of a stupid decision to not get vaccinated.
Joshua Kimmich has been MIA since mid-November, letting down his entire team in the process. Yes, Bayern emerged from that set of fixtures unscathed, but it easily could have gone the other way. We’re actually lucky that this happened in the Hinrunde and not the Ruckrunde, so no key Champions League fixtures were affected.
Again, Kimmich is an amazing player, but he let his teammates down.
Kimmich: "I let the team down by missing a week twice because I was a contact person. That would not have happened if I were vaccinated"— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) December 12, 2021
Marc Roca: N/R
Minutes Played: 228
Roca had two consecutive good performances against Stuttgart and Wolfsburg, but that’s not enough to land the young Spaniard a rating. The signs are promising though — the Ruckrunde might give him a chance to properly resurrect his Bayern career.
Leon Goretzka: B+
Minutes Played: 1,403
As the second of the two pillars that make up Bayern’s midfield, Leon Goretzka did not meet his usual standards this season. There was nothing fundamentally wrong with his performances — he’s just not as good as he was as last season. Personally, I think Goretzka has been nursing small injuries throughout the campaign, affecting his fitness and overall performance. The winter break should do him some good.
Corentin Tolisso: C+
Minutes Played: 657
Corentin Tolisso did a passable job filling in for Joshua Kimmich when the latter got quarantined, but that’s about it. The Frenchman did not have a single exceptional performance, and he sometimes looks like a tactical misfit in Nagelsmann’s dual pivot. With his contract expiring next summer, this will likely be Tolisso’s last Hinrunde at the club. This is one transfer that did not work out for Bayern.
Marcel Sabitzer: D
Minutes Played: 482
Speaking of transfers that did not work out — Marcel Sabitzer. I don’t think anyone expected the Austrian to have such a rough start to life at Bayern, given that he was one of the best midfielders in the Bundesliga under the same coach last season.
So far, all of Sabitzer’s appearances have been marred by dangerous giveaways, ineffectual passing, and a lack of noticeable impact. The Austrian has been performing well for his national team though, which suggests that his problems are Bayern-specific. Add to that his constant niggling injuries, and this entire Hinrunde has been a write-off for Sabitzer. Let’s hope that he can show his quality in the second half of the season.
Michael Cuisance: L
Minutes Played: 56
HOW IS HE STILL HERE?
Jamal Musiala: B+
Minutes Played: 979
The only reason Jamal Musiala misses out on an A grade here is because of a lack of minutes. The youngster appears to be at home in Bayern’s first team squad, always putting in a strong shift whenever called upon.
His 11 G+A averages out to over 1.01 goal contributions per 90, which is insane when you remember that a) Musiala doesn’t even have a fixed position, having played AM, winger, and even DM this season and b) he was often subbed in during the tail end of games, where he didn’t get enough time to make an impact. Musiala was also unlucky to miss out on a bunch of games due to quarantine, as he was unvaccinated per the guidelines in Germany for his age group. He has since gotten his first dose, and should be fully vaccinated before the Ruckrunde starts.
Honestly, if Musiala had been at a more youth-friendly club like Borussia Dortmund or Bayer Leverkusen, who knows what he’d have shown by now. Then again, doing it at Bayern shows that he has what it takes to rub shoulders with the best. Now Nagelsmann needs to nurture Musiala’s talent and bring it to the forefront in the Ruckrunde. The kid could prove essential to Bayern’s quest for trophies.
Thomas Muller: A
Minutes Played: 2,057
Despite a small tactical change that has taken him further away from his preferred spaces on the pitch, Thomas Muller remains the creative heart and tactical brain of Bayern Munich. His assist numbers are the best in Europe, and Julian Nagelsmann has acknowledged him as a second coach on the pitch. The only thing Muller could improve on at this point is his goalscoring — not every scoring contribution has to be an assist.
Overall Midfield Rating: C+
It’s hard to give the midfield an overall rating for this season’s Hinrunde, mainly because of how volatile the personnel situation has been for Nagelsmann. Still, there were a few issues that cropped up no matter who was playing — dangerous giveaways in possession, a general inability to control games, and a lack of ball progression through the middle.
Improvement is obviously needed, but in this case there’s not much to worry about. As long as Kimmich is spared from the worst effects of COVID-19, Bayern’s mid should be much stronger in the second half of the season.
If you like seasonal retrospectives, then you might like the latest episode of our podcast. We talked about how Nagelsmann has fared so far, discussing the highs and lows of the Hinrunde. Check it out below or at this link.
As always, we appreciate all the support!