ICYMI: An opinion aired just prior to Bayern Munich’s 5-2 win in the DFB-Pokal over FC Augsburg.
He’s not the hero we deserve.
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Bayern Munich’s long-standing #2 striker, has found himself on a team where the system has passed him by. Robert Lewandowski is an FC Barcelona player now, so who exactly is he the backup to? Every time he plays, there are wonders about why not wonderboy Mathys Tel instead. Julian Nagelsmann laid out a striker-less vision this year, and to the extent that’s fallen short, it’s merely resulted in clamors for the next big transfer window splurge.
Oh, and Choupo is also the Bundesliga’s most abused player on Twitter.
But for sixty-six imperious minutes against SC Freiburg on Sunday, Choupo looked like he’d just been commanded to go Order 66 on the rest of the league. Rarely have Bayern looked so assured and comfortable playing lately, and by the time the dust settled, he’d bagged himself one goal, one assist, and plenty of slick interplay besides.
On the day Bayern were missing both their half-space magic-men, Thomas Müller and Jamal Musiala, Nagelsmann turned to his only box striker as the lone man up top. Choupo offered an extended glimpse at how Bayern can still play that way. And it looked darn good.
With Leroy Sané the latest to fall to a potentially nagging injury, depth has thinned out in the Bayern front four. This should now be Choupo’s time to shine, and Bayern’s chance to return to a more traditional 4-2-3-1 that — frankly — seems a lot more familiar still to everybody.
Make no mistake, the fine-tuning tactician and tinkerer in Nagelsmann offers something valuable. Müller appreciates it, Kimmich appreciates it, and Bayern really do need some of this new-age thinking to take on the best that Europe has to offer in the Champions League.
That's a problem for later. The knockouts won't come until the Rückrunde. Bayern will need to first shoot their way back to the top of the league. Those tricky half-space connections, fancy tip-tappings around the box, the cycles and cycles of passes...do Bayern's opponents in the league really call for it? Or might Germany’s most deluxe roster be doing little more than shooting their own feet?
Bayern’s next tests, against respectable but hardly earth-shattering Augsburg (in the DFB-Pokal Cup) and Hoffenheim, offer a chance to find out.
Count me among those who’d like to see Nagelsmann dial up another slice of Choupo GOATing for these games — and watching Bayern dominate lesser opposition the way they’ve always done. For that, Choupo is just the hero we need right now.
Interested in more analysis of Bayern vs Freiburg? We have that plus so much more (including a discussion of Robert Lewandowski and an Augsburg preview) in the latest episode of our podcast. Listen to it below or on Spotify.
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