DYou couldn’t see how happy they were. But well, it was just a preparatory game. No more, no less. The German national team won 2-0 (2-0) against Peru in Mainz on Saturday evening. Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka were there. Kimmich played through, Goretzka only in the second half.
When it came time to analyze the first performance after the embarrassing first-round loss at the World Cup in Qatar last December, the two FC Bayern players seemed touched, withdrawn, thoughtful. Only that had less to do with what had previously been experienced on the pitch and more to do with everything that had happened in Munich in the past few days.
There, those responsible for their employer surprisingly parted ways with trainer Julian Nagelsmann and signed Thomas Tuchel as his successor. On Saturday afternoon, a few hours before the game of the German national team, Bayern boss Oliver Kahn and sports director Hasan Salihamidzic made their statements at a press conference for the first time, and Tuchel, the new head coach, also appeared.
“Little Love, Little Heart”
Late in the evening in Mainz, around 430 kilometers away, Joshua Kimmich spoke of an international match that was good in the first half and a bit confused in the second, before he commented on the ZDF microphone when asked about the events in Munich. Strange was everything that had happened around FC Bayern in the past few days.
“Little love, little heart. That’s the business,” said the midfielder succinctly. “If there is a change of coach, it’s disappointing because we players have failed,” added Kimmich – and disappeared to shower in the catacombs of the Mainz Arena. When he was done, he came back into the mixed zone and explained to media representatives what he meant by “little love, little heart”. “I have said that in general there is little room for love and heart in this business. Many of us have already experienced this first hand, so you have to try to deal with it again and learn to deal with it.”
When asked how he basically experienced the decision, Kimmich replied: “When the coach is fired, it’s always a failure on our part as players. If we had done our job, if we had won our games, we wouldn’t have had to fire the coach or those responsible.” He didn’t want his words to be understood as criticism of the bosses: “That’s independent of the bosses. The whole business: your media – decisions that are made. It’s not like it’s always nice for you. But that’s not how life is,” he said.
As far as the relationship between the team and the coach Nagelsmann is concerned, Kimmich has a different opinion than sports director Salihamidzic. He had said “the constellation between Julian Nagelsmann and the team no longer fit”.
Had Nagelsmann lost the cabin? “No, I wouldn’t say that,” said 28-year-old Kimmich, who was captain against Peru: “The reasons are that we didn’t win enough games and weren’t successful enough. Of course we are represented in all competitions. Nevertheless, you could see that we didn’t perform properly in the Bundesliga. We only won five out of ten games. The coach didn’t lose the dressing room. I’ve already been through a few coaching changes: It wasn’t the case that it was indicated internally in the dressing room because the players were dissatisfied.”
Chasing three titles
When asked about possible problems between the team and Nagelsmann, Leon Goretzka was very diplomatic in an interview with ZDF commentator Claudia Neumann. “I would be stupid if I contradicted my boss,” said the midfielder – and added: “Personally, I certainly had no cracks with Julian. I don’t know how it was with other players.” The departure of the coach, who started working in Munich in July 2021, came as a surprise. “When someone like that is no longer there out of nowhere, it’s a shock for everyone,” said Goretzka. The shock of Nagelsmann’s sudden resignation was obvious.
“I would be lying if I said the past few days haven’t affected me,” Goretzka continued. It was extremely difficult. “We have maintained a very close relationship with Julian. I probably saw him more often than my family. But we have to deal with it professionally and trust those responsible,” added the 28-year-old: “Personally, I had no cracks with Julian. I don’t know about other players.”
The midfielder had already posted an emotional Instagram post on Friday, in which he thanked him for working together and praised Nagelsmann as a “great person and coach”. “It is now up to us,” wrote Goretzka, “to bring your work to a successful conclusion.”
The FC Bayern players still have a chance of winning the title in the Bundesliga, the DFB Cup and the Champions League. In the hunt for these, however, Thomas Tuchel, who will lead his first training session with the record champions on Monday, is now in charge. Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka will experience their new coach from Thursday when they are back in Munich after the second international match on Tuesday evening against Belgium (8.45 p.m. /, in the WELT sports ticker).