After the end of the game Hansi Flick reaped objections. And that from her own player. The FC Bayern coach had repeatedly emphasised that the current high level of stress should not be used as a reason for poor performance. But then Leon Goretzka stood at the TV microphone and said: “There are many reasons why we make so many concentration mistakes. One reason is tiredness, the lack of freshness in the head. Even though the coach said that this should not be used as an excuse. But at least I am very tired.”
The tiredness, the lack of freshness, in the head but also in the body, all this was to be felt in Stuttgart, just like a week ago in the 1:1 against Werder Bremen. “You can already tell that the Bavarians are on their toes,” said Stuttgart’s Gonzalo Castro, but then had to add to his regret: “But they’re scoring at the right time. That’s why the champion won 3:1 with the bravely fighting up-and-coming team: ice-cold, efficient, cold-blooded. Typical Bavaria.
But characteristic of the Bavarians’ game are now also the slight errors in the game structure, which Hansi Flick had already complained about the day before the game. Unnecessary ball losses, sloppiness in the game structure, lack of coordination among the players. Goretzka put it in a nutshell when he spoke about the emergence of the Stuttgart lead. The starting point was a throw-in by VfB:
“We used to get in the way there, we were doing pretty well. But now we’re missing a step, we’re late, and suddenly there’s all this green.” By which Goretzka meant the completely free left side of the Bayern defence, over which Stuttgart’s Silas Wamangituka gave David Alaba the slip, before Tanguy Coulibaly put the ball in the net behind the vainly striker Manuel Neuer. Neuer, who is otherwise so infallible, had also misjudged his chances, but Goretzka shone once again that afternoon, however tired he may have been. Since the loss of Joshua Kimmich, he has been growing even more into the role of a leading defensive midfielder, whether he is standing there alone with Corentin Tolisso beside him or, as he did recently against Salzburg, alongside Marc Roca. Goretzka plays his part more unobtrusively than Kimmich, more introverted almost. But no less efficient.
“When Leon says so”. With the important goals scored by Kingsley Coman and Robert Lewandowski just before half-time, it was Goretzka who initiated the attacks with a conquest of the ball in his own half. Again and again he successfully used his slides in the second half, always at exactly the right moment, without committing a single foul over the entire playing time. In addition, his overview of the game to the front, among the Bundesliga professionals, who are now called box-to-box players in the radius between the two penalty areas, there is probably no one better than Goretzka.
“Leon has made a very good move this season,” Hansi Flick said later, “I like the way he pushes the team, it does us good, the way he wins the balls and shows his qualities as a leader in the game. Flick was then also asked about Goretzka’s statements about stress and fatigue as the reason for the current flaws, something that Flick did not want to accept. “If Leon says so,” the Bayern coach replied mildly, “then you have to let it stand.” It’s no wonder the club’s bosses are keen to talk to Goretzka about extending the 2022 contract. You want someone like him, you should definitely keep him. Not that in the end it will be an unpleasant hangover like with David Alaba.
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