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“Exhausted” Leon Goretzka thrilled to be back starting for Bayern Munich

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Leon Goretzka made a triumphant return to Bayern Munich’s starting lineup against Lazio.

SS Lazio v Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Round Of 16 Leg One Photo by Christina Pahnke - sampics/Corbis via Getty Images

Bayern Munich midfielder Leon Goretzka was elated to be back on the pitch in a starting role, but the 26-year-old was worn out after a thoroughly impressive 63-minute performance in the squad’s 4-1 victory over Lazio.

“I was pretty exhausted, but that wasn’t because of the coronavirus, but rather because of the two-week break. I think I’ll be fit again for 90 minutes soon,” said Goretzka (as captured by Tz). “I’m glad that I was able to be part of such a great game. It’s been a difficult two weeks. I’m not used to putting my feet up for two weeks.”

SS Lazio v Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Round Of 16 Leg One
Leon Goretzka was a big reason Bayern Munich was so dominant on the day.
Photo by Marco Rosi - SS Lazio/Getty Images

Per Sofascore.com, Goretzka finished the game with 40 touches and had a passing accuracy rate of 90%. The midfielder was also credited with an assist and a key pass on his way to helping Bayern Munich control the midfield.

“We were in matchday mode today and were aggressive from the start. We won the balls high, which is why the path to the goal was shorter,” Goretzka said. “We planned to do that before the game. Today we were there. This was also required of the team leaders before the game. It always does us good when we get into the game through the physical elements.”

Despite only being 26, both Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich were the elder statesmen of the midfield against Lazio, as Jamal Musiala filled that third and final advanced role in the midfield group. For his part, Goretzka was happy to be in a mentorship role — and to assist on Musiala’s goal.

“He was really happy today that he got to start from the beginning. That’s what we told him before the game, that he should just play free. Jo (Kimmich) and I told him that we would have his back,” Goretzka said.

With Musiala scoring his first Champions League goal, the frenzy surrounding his rumored contract extension — and his pending international team selection — caused reporters to ask Goretzka if he had any clue which way the 17-year-old was leaning: Germany or England.

“I don’t know any more there,” said Goretzka. “That’s a decision he has to make for himself. He has to make the decision with his heart. But I don’t think it will take too much longer. But of course, I would be happy if he decides for Germany.”