Saturday’s 2-2 draw to VfB Stuttgart was the first Bayern Munich league start for Noussair Mazraoui, one of the club’s heralded signings of the transfer window. The 24-year-old arrived from AFC Ajax with some expecting him to slot straight into the starting lineup, but has so far made only three appearances out of six in the Bundesliga for a total of 93 minutes (per fbref). After the game, Mazraoui outlined his hope that this first start will be a springboard.
“I think it was a good game from me and that I was able to show people what I can do,” Mazraoui told kicker, as captured by @iMiaSanMia. “Now it’s about getting the rhythm. I know that needs time, but at the moment I feel great.”
Perhaps those positive sentiments are a rejoinder to recent insinuations of malcontents in the locker room among the reservists? If anyone could have a complaint, it might well be Mazraoui — who at this stage of his career might have expected to become the future of the position for Bayern very soon. Instead, he finds himself firmly behind a World Cup winner of a similar age. But at least he’s taking things in stride.
Injuries at left-back or center-back this season could still send the usual starter at right-back, Benjavin Pavard, into central defense. And not for nothing was Mazraoui a sought-after commodity on the market — Bayern beating out FC Barcelona to secure the Moroccan’s signature.
Mazraoui’s strong performance against Stuttgart — highest among the starting eleven according to sofascore and joint-highest according to WhoScored, even if media were less charitable — may have made his head coach, among others, to sit up and take note. Julian Nagelsmann substituted him early, although it was immediately on the heels of Jamal Musiala’s 60th minute goal — which the coach might have mistakenly felt would be the winner.
Bayern now have a heavy run of fixtures in an exceedingly tough Champions League group from now until the World Cup, and so Mazraoui’s Bundesliga debut may have come just in time. Even if his play time comes only via rotation, we’ll likely see a lot more of him in the league.
After all, adjusting to a new city and new club isn’t always easy. And now, Mazraoui’s time may fast be coming.
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