BJulian Nagelsmann would have let himself be carried away to do something that the FC Bayern coach otherwise avoids: to give a player whose name is not Manuel Neuer or Joshua Kimmich a starting place guarantee.
Good, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting recommended at 5-0 win against SC Freiburg, which pushed Bayern up to second place in the Bundesliga. But that alone is not enough. “We still have a few other good players,” said Nagelsmann. “But if he plays like that, he will also play on Wednesday.” In the cup at FC Augsburg (8:45 p.m. in FAZ live ticker for the DFB Cupon ZDF and on Sky), who inflicted Bayern’s only defeat so far this season a few weeks ago.
So it could actually happen that Choupo-Moting is on the pitch for the second time in a row. And that’s not just to do with the amazing performance of the 33-year-old striker, who scored one goal on Sunday and helped set up two more. But also with the failure of Leroy Sane, who tore a muscle fiber and, according to the club, had to pause “for the time being”. And it may also depend on whether Thomas Müller is fit for action again after his calf problems.
A replacement for Lewandowski?
In any case, Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting gives a new twist to the debate that has accompanied Bayern almost since the start of the season. Suddenly he is there, that goal striker who after Robert Lewandowski’s Change in the summer in the team peppered with football artists was missing. Choupo-Moting was there all the time, but at the beginning of the season he had to recover from an injury and then he didn’t appear as if he could become anything more than just a late-stage player.
Nagelsmann had to justify time and again why he usually preferred the striker, who at the age of 33 no longer represents the future and seems to have past his prime, to the young Mathis Tel when coming on as a substitute.
The coach recently cited the physical presence and power of Choupo-Moting. And he proved on Sunday that he’s not a thing of the past. “I know what I can do, I know I can help the team,” he said. “Julian knows that I see it that way.” The colleagues had fewer doubts than the public and a few experts anyway. For Serge Gnabry, Choupo-Moting is “the best sole player”. He can “fix the ball incredibly well, whether with the sole or with one touch”.
The striker, who was once signed as a backup for Lewandowski and had always accepted his role as number two behind the Pole without complaint, showed a quality in his first starting eleven appearance in six months that hardly anyone would have believed him capable of.
However, Freiburg also lacked the necessary aggressiveness in defensive behavior. Nagelsmann sees Choupo-Moting as the “target player who is often missed in the media”. At least he is an additional component as a passing station in the penalty area. A replacement for the world footballer Lewandowski, of course, not. The debate about the real nine will probably continue. Despite Choupo-Moting.