Goretzka takes the next step
Bayern Munich’s Leon Goretzka took the next step in his return to full fitness today. In just his second game since recovering from COVID-19, Goretzka played 60 minutes and contributed an assist in his time on the pitch, even though he had been hampered by an elbow injury which he picked up early in the game. According to Flick, Gorezka was never meant to play any longer than that anyway, as they want to build his fitness up slowly coming back from the virus.
“Leon had already signaled at halftime that he was running out of air, and we hoped he could last another 10-15 minutes out on the pitch [in the second half],” said Flick (via Bayern Munich’s YouTube channel). “It was obvious to us that he wouldn’t be able to play the whole 90 minutes tonight. Especially after this illness, it’s important that we take it step-by-step and bring him along slowly. Today was the next step, a little more [than last game], close to 65 or 70 minutes, I’m not sure, but it was totally fine.”
Musiala’s inclusion in the starting line-up
After a terrific start to the season, Jamal Musiala has seen his playing time drop off a bit, having started only one game for Bayern in 2021. When Thomas Müller was hit with his positive COVID-19 diagnosis shortly before the Club World Cup final, and Corentin Tolisso and Serge Gnabry also landed on the injury list, many expected Musiala to be the main beneficiary and see an uptick in playing time in the following weeks.
While that wasn’t the case in the last two Bundesliga games, Musiala got the vote of confidence from Flick today and repaid his faith with an important goal after 25 minutes to put Bayern up 2:0.
After the game, Flick explained why he chose today to start Musiala and talked over what he liked from the youngster during the game.
“He’s very secure on the ball and plays well between the lines. He has a good feeling for what spaces he can or should occupy and did a good job today along with the rest of the team,” Flick stated. “Of course, the goal made us all happy, so we’re very satisfied. A deciding factor for why he played today was that we needed someone like him to keep possession, someone who could try to create overloads between the lines and in the half-spaces, and give passing options. He did that well.”
Musiala’s performance tonight will certainly not make it any easier to keep him on the bench in Bayern’s next game against FC Köln on Saturday. With his first Champions League goal, his birthday on Friday and pending contract extension coming up — as well his expected announcement regarding his decision about which nation to represent internationally, this will certainly be an exciting week in the life of Jamal Musiala.