Bayern Munich salvaged a 4-2 victory over European giants Juventus earlier this week in the Champions League in a tantalisingly poised game which saw the Germans triumph over their Italian counterparts in extra time.
The Bavarian side well and truly had their hearts in their mouth when Juve raced into a two goal lead in the first half at the Allianz arena, but late goals from Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller, who scored in the 90th minute, managed to send the game to extra time with the teams deadlocked 4-4 on aggregate. Goals from youngsters Thiago Alcantara and Kingsley Coman in added time made sure that Pep Guardiola’s Bayern progressed despite an early scare.
While forwards Lewandowski, Muller and Coman received all the plaudits for their attacking prowess, Joshua Kimmich in defence also stood out, but his performance went largely unnoticed in the plethora of talent around him.
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Despite being a midfielder, Kimmich has often been deployed as a central defender by Guardiola this season. A few weeks ago, Bayern were in the middle of a huge defensive crisis, with regulars Jerome Boateng, Javi Martinez and Holger Badstuber all unavailable, and many were expecting the German champions to struggle.
However, like always, Guardiola managed to get his club out of a rut by playing young midfielder Joshua Kimmich as a centre-half. The Spanish manager’s master-stroke seems to be paying dividends as the young German has taken to his new position like a duck to water.
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Kimmich has been a rock at the back for Bayern since adopting his new position and been instrumental for the Bavarian team of late. Despite his tender years, the youngster has got a good chunk of game time under his belt this season and played in crucial games against Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg. Barring the Juventus ties, Bayern have conceded just two goals in their last five games with Kimmich in the side.
Despite racking up consistently good performances, Kimmich’s contribution to the German side has gone largely unnoticed due to the abundance of talent elsewhere.
Bayern Munich have some of Europe’s top stars in their ranks, and while the contributions of players like Lewandowski, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery generally hogging the limelight, Kimmich’s defensive brilliance has been restricted to the back pages.
Dark horse for the Euro 2016
Despite his limited recognition from the media, the young midfielder will hope that his recent performances have caught the attention of one man - German national manager Joachim Low.
Kimmich is undoubtedly staking a claim for the Euro's squad and could be a surprise late selection. Despite being only 21, the youngster plays with the experience and temperament of a player way beyond his years, - particularly evident with his formidable performances against Dortmund and Juventus. The German’s newly-found versatility could also be seen as an added incentive in pushing his case forwards.
Low might well also be tempted to pick the youth over experience, as many of the German regulars of the recent past like Boateng, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos struggling with both form and fitness this season.
Although his inclusion in the German squad would come as a bit of a surprise, it wouldn’t be totally unprecedented providing he can maintain his form for the rest of the season.