Harry Kane may have taken the headlines for his Der Klassiker hat-trick, but it’s instead a key absentee that’s raising eyebrows in the debrief.
Bayern Munich tore rivals Borussia Dortmund to pieces in the Bundesliga’s grandest fixture, dismantling Edin Terzic’s side 4-0 away from home.
It was a statement performance in a tricky 2023 for Bayern, whose nine months under Thomas Tuchel have gone far from swimmingly.
Replacing Julian Nagelsmann in March, Tuchel instantly led Bayern out of the Champions League and DFB Pokal, and almost lost the Bundesliga on the final day.
This season began with an opening Super Cup defeat to Leipzig, and last week they were knocked out of the cup by third-tier Saarbrucken.
Throughout an up and down campaign, Kane’s record goalscoring has been the one constant with 17 in 14 games, which begs the question: why was the performance so much better against Dortmund?
Well, former Liverpool and Bayern midfielder Didi Hamann has singled-out the absence of the injured Joshua Kimmich.
“That was by far the best game since Tuchel was there – and that was without Kimmich,” Hamann said on Sunday night.
“Is it perhaps a better team without Kimmich?” he continued. “I’ve spoken to a few people and many Bayern fans say: Kimmich is out now, things are going better now.
“How do you tell [Konrad] Laimer or [Leon] Goretzka that they won’t play on Wednesday. I think it is now incredibly difficult to tear this midfield duo apart.”
Kimmich has been a regular for both Bayern and Germany since 2016, starting out at right back before moving into midfield and increasing in performance.
However, Hamann isn’t the only one who’s expressed concerns with his performances this season, with former Chelsea great Michael Ballack also uneasy.
“He has proven that he can play in both positions. For me, he’s only world-class as a right-back,” the Germany legend said.
“In midfield he sometimes ‘wants’ too much, which makes the team vulnerable. I’m a fan of using the best players in their best positions. We already saw that with Philipp Lahm — if you are a world-class full-back, it won’t necessarily work the same way in another position. I see the same thing with Kimmich at the very high level.”
Tuchel has also regularly been critical of both Kimmich and Goretzka throughout the season, saying neither can play as a defensive midfielder, expressing his frustration at a collapsed deadline day move for Joao Palhinha.
But what’s bad news for Kimmich may be good news for Manchester United, who have long been linked with a move to the Premier League.
Previously quoted with a price tag of £80million, more recent reports suggest that Bayern could entertain offers closer to £50m after a summer of interest from Barcelona and his contract entering its final two years.