FC Bayern Munich and Corona: Challenge against Pilsen – Sport

Oh yes, Corona, says Julian Nagelsmann. His players are quite sensitive to the topic. But they still have a life off the pitch. Like himself, by the way. Sometimes when shopping, for example, people would be surprised if they met him. “At Rewe. Or at Edeka. Or at…”, says Nagelsmann, thinks, then he laughs briefly. “Allnatura! It doesn’t matter … I’ll just go through everything now so that it doesn’t mean I’m doing advertising.” In any case, people everywhere would ask: Mr. Nagelsmann, do you shop yourself? Yes, indeed, he is happy to answer: he eats too!

In fact: It’s easy to chat again at FC Bayern since the team successfully shot away the gloomy memories of just as many games without a win in the Bundesliga with four goals against Bayer Leverkusen on Friday evening.

And although the next important game in the Champions League is scheduled for this Tuesday (6.45 p.m.), if only against Viktoria Pilsen, the good mood is not even spoiled by a major Corona situation, which in the previous year regularly caused massive headlines at the FC Bayern had taken care of: Thomas Müller and Joshua Kimmich had made positive tests public at the weekend. Both are enjoying an asymptomatic course, as the saying goes, or as Nagelmann put it on Monday: “Nothing.”

The three times vaccinated and now three times infected Müller even uploaded a video on the Internet. “Hello folks,” he greets in a good mood from his quarantine. “The Covid triple came to me. This time I didn’t have it on my screen, I’m doing very well so far.”

When Müller fell ill with Corona for the first time, almost the entire Federal Republic was on the screen – especially because of the spectacular pictures he produced in February 2021: Müller is wrapped in a white full-body anti-epidemic suit, looks like the Martian, flies but then not in a rocket, but in a private jet from the Club World Cup in Qatar back to Munich. 20 months later, newly infected people happily take the subway to the Oktoberfest. The pandemic is no longer perceived by many as a social threat. For a coach like Nagelsmann, however, it is still a personal and tactical challenge.

Especially since now in Müller and Kimmich two thirds of the remaining Bayern axis fail. In the past, when the Viennese defensive monolith David Alaba was still structuring the defensive and Robert Lewandowski netted in front, this axis consisted of five irreplaceable players. On Tuesday against Pilsen only goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will be left, the rest is in flux. Such a team that has to find itself again always offers opportunities for those who strive for the limelight. Nagelsmann wants to rotate against Pilsen, but “not change seven players”.

Not even Corona spoils the mood at FC Bayern

Summer signing Ryan Gravenberch could play in defensive midfield from the start, the coach promised. The 20-year-old Dutchman recently directed the microphones towards the reserve bench with a succinct statement: “To be honest, I expected more minutes of play.” After his move from Ajax Amsterdam, Gravenberch may have been surprised that his dream place at Kimmich’s side was not only contested by Leon Goretzka, but also by a teammate who played a subordinate role in Nagelsmann’s plans last season: Marcel Sabitzer. But perhaps Gravenberch won’t even play against Pilsen from the start, as the coach noted that he interprets the position in defensive midfield in a similarly offensive way as Goretzka. And since “two pillars” fell away in Kimmich and Müller, “Leon is someone who can lead”.

On Monday, Nagelsmann made an indirect indication of what the weakness in form of Serge Gnabry, who had been inconspicuous for weeks, could be – by praising him and thinking aloud about his use as a replacement for Müller. He has known Gnabry for ages and appreciates him very much, Nagelsmann reported, in fact he once made him a regular in Hoffenheim.

That’s why he “doesn’t have to be afraid of me if his performance isn’t right,” said Nagelsmann, or fear “that he’ll be shaved.” Rather, Gnabry should “have full confidence and play football freely from the soul”. Gnabry was Bayern’s second-best goalscorer last season. It is quite possible that he now feels more responsible than anyone else to close the Lewandowski gap as best as possible.

Against the team of the Czech champions, a mentally carefree Gnabry could perhaps shoot himself out of the crisis with a few goals like his offensive colleague Sadio Mané against Leverkusen. The opportunity for him and Gravenberch is good, but it does not last long. As early as Saturday in the Bundesliga game in Dortmund, Kimmich and Müller could – assuming negative tests – move back into the starting XI. Luckily you have nothing.


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