When Bayern Munich revealed their starting XI an hour before kickoff on Sunday, fans were surprised to see Leroy Sane on the bench. Despite being left out of the lineup against Frankfurt and having a full week of rest, the 26-year-old once again found himself on the bench vs Bayer Leverkusen. With no reports of a possible injury, observers were baffled by the decision to leave Sane out against the 3rd placed team in the league.
Speaking to the media following the game, Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann explained the thinking behind the decision to omit Sane from the lineup:
Nagelsmann on why Sané didn't start vs. Leverkusen: "It wasn't a decision against Leroy but, as always, a decision for those who started. The decision to form a back four with Omar Richards was necessary due to the absence of Lucas Hernández & Leverkusen's strength on the counter pic.twitter.com/FHVXcrTzeW— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) March 6, 2022
Nagelsmann continued by saying:
Leroy also has qualities off the bench, as we saw last week. That’s what we were hoping for. He didn’t have that decisive moment, but he still made two or three good attempts in the opponent’s penalty area.
Unfortunately that’s only half the answer — the coach didn’t explain why he couldn’t have rested either Serge Gnabry or Kingsley Coman, especially with a Champions League game in midweek. Either of those players could’ve used the rest, and Sane himself would hardly turn down game time. But since there were no reports of an injury, we’ll have to assume that the decision was tactical.
So will Sane start against Salbzurg in midweek? Nagelsmann hasn’t said anything on the subject, but you can assume that he will. If it somehow doesn’t happen, and Bayern go on to lose the game, well ... what kind of a coach would take that risk?
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