In this footballing climate, what are Bayern Munich and where do they sit in its pecking order?

From Barcelona, to Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus in recent years, the financial and footballing disparity between Europe's elite and the rest has warped perception. Lifting the league trophy at the end of the season no longer provides safety for a head coach.

Even then, Bayern are an extreme example. In the six years since Pep Guardiola left for Manchester City, they have gone through six head coaches, despite winning the Bundesliga in every season over that same period.

Bayern have been global standard-bearers for nearly four decades. Where other clubs and leagues have had lull periods away from the very highest levels of European football, they have consistently been in contention for silverware, even in relatively weak periods.

Just as importantly, though, the superiority clubs like Bayern now enjoy almost automatically dictates they will dominate possession in many games, irrespective of the ideology of the coach in charge and whether their teams can function with the ball as a consequence.

Niko Kovac's first season in 2018-19 was a good example of this. Bayern came nowhere near functioning in possession relative to the array of talent they had and still – along with some aid from Borussia Dortmund's regression to the mean after initial xG over-performance under Lucien Favre – managed an 11-point turnaround from third place in February to win the Bundesliga.

Meanwhile, they were comprehensively beaten by Liverpool in the last 16 of the Champions League with the majority of possession. Things declined even further under Kovac in his second season, before Hansi Flick took over the head coaching role, conquered Europe and subsequently replaced Joachim Low as the German national team coach at the end of the 2020-21 season.

This is the wider context that must be considered for Julian Nagelsmann's first season and what follows, because both club and international football ultimately acts within a continuum. Ahead of this weekend's Klassiker, much like that first season under Kovac, there's a dissonance that will accompany Bayern's title win.

Ultimately, a 10th consecutive Bundesliga title will not wash away the taste of Bayern's meek elimination at the hands of Villarreal in the Champions League quarter-finals. Those two legs were a microcosm of numerous aspects concerning this Bayern season – their true capacity in possession relative to the level of opposition, Nagelsmann's continual switching between 4-2-3-1 and 3-4-3 formations, and finally from a standpoint of net gain, whether he's really getting the most out of the extraordinary creative forces that are Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski.

It is hard to overstate how Muller and Lewandowski provided more than goals and assists for Bayern under Flick. The utilisation of that duo was integral to the team's very functioning in possession, especially with Thiago Alcantara missing significant portions of that post-lockdown run late in the 2019-20 season. Kingsley Coman's decisive goal in the 2020 Champions League final against PSG was a perfect picture of the team when all three of Lewandowski, Muller and Thiago played – having initially tried to cover Muller, Leandro Paredes had to scramble, but it was too late, as Thiago fired his pass into Joshua Kimmich and Bayern got up the pitch.

Their combined touches in open play per 90 minutes under respective coaches makes for a good starting point. Under Kovac, Lewandowski and Muller held a combined 98.19 touches and 3.35 chances created from open play per 90 in all competitions. Flick's arrival leads to a dramatic spike for the two in both categories, with 107.6 touches in open play and 4.53 chances created in open play per 90.

 

 

Father Time will dictate an inevitable decline for the two as they approach 35, but more pertinently, Nagelsmann's approach has led to a return to their numbers under Kovac, with 98.59 touches per match and 3.85 chances created from open play between the two in all competitions this season. Then there's the discrepancy in eventual shot location.

The difference lies in involvement. Under Flick, Muller and Lewandowski effectively played as two strikers in a 4-4-2, while the wingers kept the defensive line pinned back, allowing the two with sufficient space to retreat and operate between the lines. Especially with midfielders like Kimmich and Leon Goretzka who do not like receiving the ball in tight areas, it was a critical component of Bayern's play and enabled them to open up the pitch.

Kimmich's increase in chance creation – his 2.83 per 90 this season is his highest out of the last four seasons in all competitions – is arguably born of the fact he is now Bayern's set-piece taker. His chance creation in open play has actually gone down from last season's 1.68 to 1.44, despite an increase in touches from 100.8 to 105.85.

 

 

Lewandowski and Muller's comparatively higher positioning and primary objective of threat behind the defensive line under Nagelsmann frankly makes the switching between 4-2-3-1 and 3-4-3 irrelevant, because the 34-year-old has taken away the very thing that made Bayern function to begin with – the pair's ability to incorporate as well as get on the end of moves. Jamal Musiala's deployment in a 3-4-3 in the second leg against Villarreal only managed to clog the middle of the pitch up even further.

The player who has suffered the most with this change, however, is Serge Gnabry. His combined xG+xA figure of 0.92 in 2019-20 has dramatically decreased to 0.69 this year, while the middle of the pitch has been completely closed off to him, something evident in his dribble progression.

 

 

It all relates to the eventuality of Bayern's shot location and quality. Shot volume in Nagelsmann's first season has gone up to 20.13 in comparison to the 18.08 of that treble season under Flick, but they are shooting from further away, and with no increase in xG per shot. Against better defences, teams that hold high volumes of possession but ultimately struggle to play through the middle of the pitch are eventually found out. That has been the case this year, in Europe and particular in domestic losses to Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Monchengladbach.

This all exists amid the backdrop of Bayern Munich's waning financial power and status as a destination in relation to the rest of Europe's elite. Bayern centre-back Niklas Sule is set to leave for arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund. Emerging stars from within the Bundesliga who traditionally would have been guaranteed to end up at Sabener Strasse such as Dortmund's Erling Haaland, or RB Leipzig's Cristopher Nkunku and Josko Gvardiol, appear destined for elsewhere.

In the meantime, Bayern are reportedly haggling with Ajax over the release of Ryan Gravenberch who, despite the hype, arguably will not transform their midfield – much like Corentin Tolisso and Marc Roca.

There is also the small matter of Lewandowski's contract not being renewed and running the risk of expiring at the end of next season.

Sustained success can run the risk of providing diminishing returns, much like Juventus discovered in Italy. The question for Bayern is how to avoid it both as a club and under Nagelsmann, but can they?

Julian Nagelsmann is relishing a "match point" game with Borussia Dortmund after Bayern Munich moved on the brink of another Bundesliga title with a 3-0 win at Arminia Bielefeld.

Bayern bounced back from the disappointment of their Champions League exit at the hands of Villarreal in routine fashion, goals from Robert Lewandowski, Serge Gnabry and Jamal Musiala securing all three points against their relegation-threatened opponents.

It means Bayern have a nine-point lead over Dortmund with four games remaining and can clinch the title with victory over their arch-rivals at the Allianz Arena next Saturday.

"It was a deserved win and it's important for us to have this match point game at home against Dortmund," Nagelsmann said in quotes reported by Bayern's official website. 

"It's a coincidence that doesn't happen very often. We're looking forward to that."

Bayern's Joshua Kimmich added: "The first half was pretty good, but in the second half we slowed down a bit. 

"We kept allowing counter-attacks with long balls. It was a deserved win. 

"We definitely want to win the title next week against Dortmund at home. This is a special game for us and for the whole Bundesliga. Because to get the championship trophy, that's clearly the ultimate goal."

Gnabry, who also created four chances, conceded there was an element of frustration from the aggregate defeat to Villarreal that was taken out on struggling Arminia.

"It was a bit of a reduction in frustration today after being eliminated from the Champions League, in which we had planned to progress," he said.

"But in the end, football just keeps going. Today was a new game. We wanted to win and we did. We played well with the ball, created a lot of space, let our opponents run and lost the ball a few times. 

"We had a lot of chances and maybe we could have scored earlier. But we can be satisfied." 

Julian Nagelsmann said Bayern Munich "won't take any chances" with Robert Lewandowski's fitness when they face Freiburg on Saturday, with the striker nursing a rib injury.

The Bayern boss offered a promising update on Leon Goretzka's fitness, saying he would "love" to let the midfielder play, but could be left without Joshua Kimmich due to the imminent birth of his child.

Lewandowski netted a second-half penalty to set Poland on their way to World Cup qualification on Tuesday, opening the scoring in a 2-0 play-off win over Sweden.

The 33-year-old's last club outing saw him net twice against Union Berlin to reach 30 Bundesliga goals for a fifth time, a feat only previously achieved by the legendary Gerd Muller.

Ahead of the trip to fifth-placed Freiburg, Nagelsmann said that while Lewandowski is in the squad and in contention to feature, the club would act with caution after he picked up a rib injury. 

"We'll have to see how his rib reacts," Nagelsmann said.

"I assume he's in the squad and playing, but we won't take any chances."

If Lewandowski is deemed fit enough to feature, he could set an outright record for the most away goals scored in a single Bundesliga campaign. 

His current tally of 17 is a joint single-season record, shared with Jupp Heynckes (set in 1973-74 as a Borussia Monchengladbach player), and Timo Werner (2019-20 with RB Leipzig).

Meanwhile, Nagelsmann offered updates on the availability of two key midfielders, indicating that Goretzka is in line for his first appearance since December's 3-2 win over Borussia Dortmund.

He also revealed he has set a deadline for Kimmich to join up with the team as he awaits his child's birth.

"Goretzka reacted a bit on the hip, [but] otherwise he trained exceptionally well, and I would love to let him play," Nagelsmann added.

"I discussed with him [Kimmich] that if everything stays calm, he can travel later. We have set a deadline. The most important thing is that everyone stays fit. 

"We have a good squad and we have to control the players' workloads. At the same time, we need to keep our foot on the gas."

Bayern's tally of 81 goals from their 27 Bundesliga games is the best return at this stage of a season in the competition's history. Meanwhile, the perennial champions have scored in 74 consecutive Bundesliga matches, also a German top-flight record.

Joshua Kimmich slammed Bayern Munich's performance during their 4-2 defeat by Bochum, describing it as their "worst of the season".

The Bundesliga leaders came crashing back down to earth at Vonovia Ruhrstadion as they were beaten for only the second time in 32 meetings between the sides.

Bayern conceded four goals for the second time this season with Christopher Antwi-Adjei, Jurgen Locadia, Cristian Gamboa and Gerrit Holtmann all on target before half-time for the hosts.

Julian Nagelsmann's side were also thrashed 5-0 by Borussia Monchengladbach in the DFB-Pokal in October.

And Kimmich questioned the mentality of his team-mates in a scathing post-match reflection.

"That was our worst performance of the season throughout the game," he told Sky.

"We missed all the virtues. If something like this happens once in the season, then I say that it can happen.

"But this is not the first time this has happened to us this season.

"We have to be careful. We have to ask ourselves whether this is the mentality that FC Bayern embodies."

Nagelsmann also bemoaned a "sluggish" display from his players but took full responsibility for the defeat.

"Both in victory and defeat, you sit together in the boat; I also told the guys," the head coach added. 

"Of course, I also criticise myself if the idea didn't work out very well.

"Bochum pressed well, but we played very slowly and sluggishly. Normally, I have to change a bit earlier in the first half. After the change of sides, it was a bit better."

Julian Nagelsmann does not regret giving Bayern Munich's players freedom to enjoy their vacation during the Bundesliga's mid-season break.

German top-flight leaders Bayern are set to face Borussia Monchengladbach on Friday, but currently have nine players who have returned positive COVID-19 test results.

Manuel Neuer, Lucas Hernandez, Dayot Upamecano, Tanguy Nianzou, Omar Richards, Corentin Tolisso, Kingsley Coman, Leroy Sane and Alphonso Davies have all tested positive for the virus.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Bouna Sarr are with Cameroon and Senegal respectively for the Africa Cup of Nations. Niklas Sule is nursing a back problem, while Leon Goretzka and Josip Stanisic are injured.

Gladbach's sporting director Max Eberl confirmed on Wednesday that Bayern had asked for the game to be postponed. Bundesliga rules allow a team to request a postponement if they have fewer than 16 players, including a goalkeeper, available.

But Nagelsmann, who contracted the virus in 2021, does not believe he should have limited the movements of his players during the recent hiatus in an attempt to curtail the possibility of an outbreak.

"I have a clear opinion about this topic. I'm not a teacher, I'm a coach," Nagelsmann told a news conference.

"Our players are all adults. My players are responsible for their own lives. We have the same rules and recommendations that we've had the last two years.

"You want to remain healthy. There's no option to suggest to a player that he can't go on holiday, if the law doesn't prevent that. There's psychological recovery. If you look at Upamecano, he flew to Senegal to see his family. If I don't let him do that then I can't let another player go 10 miles down the road to see his family.

"Every employee was allowed to go on holiday. You can't tell a player not to go, to stay home. With Omar Richards, once we found out that England was a high-risk area we got him back from England. 

"I don't know why we have more infected players than others. It's unfortunate, but the players have the same rules that have worked very well. There are other clubs that don't do PCR tests, they do fast tests that aren't as sensitive. So there's a couple of elements, we have to make the best of the situation.

"I was very happy with the players, the U23s and U19s players that joined us. I am not the type of coach to complain. We can discuss if these rules make sense. I went out for a meal and was infected. I rarely go out. I went out once and got coronavirus. It happens, I don't know exactly why."

Asked if the game would be going ahead at all, Nagelsmann said: "I can't answer that with 100 per cent accuracy. My job, and the job of the players, is to prepare as if it is going to take place.

"That's what we're operating on, that's what we're expecting. We've prepared all week for this game to take place. 

"It's a challenging situation, but as a coach it's an interesting challenge, you have to adapt, change your tactics to turn your problem into a strength."

One player who will return is Joshua Kimmich, who has not played since November after contracting coronavirus.

Kimmich's recovery was hampered by a lung issue but Nagelsmann confirmed the midfielder is fit to feature.

"Joshua is making a very good impression. He's very happy, his physical condition is outstanding," he said.

"If everyone was here he'd probably play, now it's clear he's going to play anyway because he has to. He deserves to play, we're all happy that he's back and he will play tomorrow."

Kimmich had initially declined the vaccine while he waited for more research on possible side effects, though confirmed in December that he had changed his mind and would take up the option.

Asked if Kimmich had received the vaccine, Nagelsmann said: "I can't say, I don't want to, that's a private matter. It's Joshua's responsibility to talk about that."

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann is hopeful Joshua Kimmich's declaration that he is ready to take a COVID-19 vaccine will draw a line under the matter.

Kimmich made headlines in October when he explained he was not willing to receive his first dose due to what he perceived as a lack of research into possible long-term effects.

The 26-year-old has not featured for Bayern since November 6 after twice being forced to isolate due to being a close contact of someone who tested positive for coronavirus.

He was then infected with COVID-19 himself and was last week ruled out until 2022 due to an issue with his lungs.

Kimmich confirmed in an interview with ZDF on Sunday that he is now in a position where he feels ready to get vaccinated.

Nagelsmann, who was himself struck down by the illness, is pleased with Kimmich's announcement but insisted he did not sway the midfielder's decision.

"I think it's good that he faced the media. A lot has been reported about him in the last few weeks," Nagelsmann said on Monday. 

"I gave him my opinion, but in the end his conviction was a result of talks with other people at the club. I rather try to work on the pitch."

Nagelsmann, who has been regularly questioned on the topic over the past two months, added: "I think it's funny I'm still being asked! 

"When the year 2021 comes to an end, I hope that we will be able to deal with the pandemic subject more briefly because we can master the situation."

 

Bayern will be without Kimmich for their final two Bundesliga games of the year, while Jamal Musiala is also doubtful to face Stuttgart on Tuesday and Wolfsburg next weekend.

Musiala has scored in Bayern's last two games, including the decisive strike to see off Mainz 2-1 on Saturday, but a broken hand could keep him out of action until 2022.

"That depends on the pain," Nagelsmann said ahead of the trip to Stuttgart. "He has a splint and could theoretically play, but it's a pain issue. 

"We'll see how he moves today. We'll have to wait a few days and take another X-ray to see how to proceed with the treatment, whether it will be surgical or conservative."

Nagelsmann confirmed Leon Goretzka and Corentin Tolisso are also fitness doubts for Tuesday, but Marcel Sabitzer has returned to training and may be part of the squad.

Bayern have won 66 of their 104 Bundesliga matches against Stuttgart – no other team in Bundesliga history has won so often against a single opponent.  

The Bavarian giants have won 17 of their last 18 league meetings with Stuttgart, with the only exception being a 4-1 loss in May 2018.

Pellegrino Matarazzo's side have taken seven points from their last three games, however, and Nagelsmann is not anticipating an easy game in midweek.

"In terms of the table, they are not quite as good as they were last year," he said. "But it is incredibly difficult to prepare to face them.

"Their coach, who I know well, is a mathematician and that's how he approaches games. You cannot prepare for the way they will set up."

A draw for Bayern at Mercedes-Benz-Arena will ensure they sit top of the Bundesliga at the halfway point for the 15th time in the 16 seasons since the introduction of three points for a win.

Joshua Kimmich expressed regret at not jumping at the chance to be vaccinated against COVID-19 – but took a swipe at those who criticised his hesitancy.

The Bayern Munich and Germany midfielder has confirmed he is now ready to take a vaccine after months of delaying his decision, and after experiencing unpleasant effects of having the virus himself.

The 26-year-old caused a major stir in October when he explained he was not willing to receive his first dose due to what he perceived as a lack of research into possible long-term effects.

"Generally, it was just difficult for me to deal with my fears and concerns, which is why I was undecided for so long," Kimmich said, speaking to German broadcaster ZDF.

"Maybe I had to go through what I have now gone through first. Of course, looking back, I would like to make the vaccination decision earlier, but at the time it wasn't possible for me."

Kimmich has not featured for Bayern since November 6 after twice being forced to isolate due to being a close contact of someone who tested positive for coronavirus.

He was then infected with COVID-19 and was this week ruled out until 2022 due to an issue with his lungs. He told ZDF that to return to full training now would create the risk of that problem extending to his heart and "longer consequences".

Kimmich has been dismayed by some reaction to his reluctance to be jabbed, saying: "I have to say personally that some of the limits have been exceeded.

"I also had the feeling that there was one or another who tried to make a name for themselves through this situation. It wasn't always just objective criticism.

"We always talk about respect, tolerance, openness – and these are precisely the values ​​that I particularly missed in my discussion."

 

Kimmich has played 18 times for Bayern across all competitions this campaign.

Bayern, who are playing their home games behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions imposed in Bavaria, sit six points clear at the top of the Bundesliga after beating Mainz 2-1 on Saturday.

Bayern Munich and Germany midfielder Joshua Kimmich is ready to take a COVID-19 vaccine after months of delaying his decision.

The 26-year-old made headlines in October when he explained he was not willing to receive his first dose due to what he perceived as a lack of research into possible long-term effects.

Kimmich has not featured for Bayern since November 6 after twice being forced to isolate due to being a close contact of someone who tested positive for coronavirus.

He was then infected with COVID-19 himself and was this week ruled out until 2022 due to an issue with his lungs.

In an interview with ZDF to be broadcast in full later on Sunday, Kimmich revealed he is now in a position where he feels ready to get vaccinated.

"Generally, it was just difficult for me to deal with my fears and concerns, which is why I was undecided for so long," Kimmich said.

Despite being absent for the past month, Kimmich has featured 18 times for Bayern across all competitions this campaign.

Bayern, who are playing their home games behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions imposed in Bavaria, beat Mainz 2-1 on Saturday in Kimmich's absence.

Julian Nagelsmann's men are now six points clear at the top of Bundesliga and face Stuttgart on Tuesday in their penultimate game of the year.

Robert Lewandowski has continued with business as usual despite disappointment at the 2021 Ballon d'Or awards, according to Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann.

Lewandowski had to settle for second place and an inaugural Striker of the Year accolade at the France Football award ceremony, with Lionel Messi collecting a record-extending seventh crown.

The Bayern striker may have felt hard done by, given he has scored 14 more times than any other player in Europe's top five leagues in 2021, with 55 goals across all competitions to his name so far.

The Poland international also missed out last year due to the coronavirus-enforced cancellation of the 2020 Ballon d'Or, which he was favourite for after breaking Gerd Muller's long-standing Bundesliga record following 41 goals in 29 league games last term.

But Nagelsmann insisted that Lewandowski – who again leads Europe's top five leagues with 27 goals this term across all competitions, seven more than second-placed Mohamed Salah – has not let the Ballon d'Or snub impact his performances.

"I haven't noticed a big change in terms of hunger for goals, regardless of the Ballon d'Or decision or new records," Nagelsmann, whose side face Mainz on Saturday, told reporters at his pre-match news conference.

"I think he was in an incredibly good mood lately with very good body language. He also does his job defensively very neatly. I think he just wants to be successful with FC Bayern."

 

Bayern, inspired by the likes of Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry, sit four points clear of Borussia Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga as the reigning champions prepare to host Mainz.

Nagelsmann is also eyeing a landmark of his own, with a potential 100th Bundesliga win awaiting him in just his 199th game as a top-flight boss.

Should he do so, he will become the fastest to a century in the German top flight but the former RB Leipzig head coach claimed he did not even know he was approaching a milestone as he praised his team's recent efforts.

"Thanks for the memory, I didn't even know that," he added. "That's a nice number, I'm happy.

"The players are in a good mood, I think. The atmosphere is also good on the pitch and in the dressing room. 

"I think we have mastered the difficult autumn quite well so far, even with the many injuries and failures. We want to win the rest of the games and keep the gap to Dortmund in the league. We will drive ahead with full speed."

Nagelsmann, however, will be without Joshua Kimmich, who will miss the remainder of 2021 with a lung problem as he continues to recover from coronavirus.

But the Bayern head coach defended his player, who is yet to be vaccinated for COVID-19, after suggestions Kimmich was causing problems.

"Basically, it's always good if you ask him that yourself," he continued. "Of course, as a thoroughbred athlete, he always wants to be on the pitch, especially because he's always been fit. 

"You have to allow opinions here in Germany. He has made his decision, you have to accept it."

Bayern Munich will be without Joshua Kimmich for the remainder of 2021 as the midfielder recovers from coronavirus.

Kimmich, who has not yet been vaccinated against the virus, has not played for Bayern since November 6.

The 26-year-old was considered a close contact of Bayern team-mate Niklas Sule, who returned a positive PCR test result while on international duty with Germany last month.

After going through a period of isolation, Kimmich was forced to quarantine again when he was classed as a contact of another suspected COVID-19 case. He then tested positive for the virus himself later in November.

Kimmich has stated he is unwilling to receive a coronavirus vaccine until more is known about possible long-term effects. 

Although Kimmich is no longer suffering from COVID-19, Bayern have confirmed he will not return to action until January.

Kimmich explained this was due to "slight infiltrations" in his lungs, which mean he has been unable to train fully.

"I'm happy my self-isolation caused by the coronavirus has ended," Kimmich said in a statement released on Bayern's official website.

"I'm doing very well, but I'm not yet able to train fully due to slight infiltrations in my lungs. I'll therefore do some rehabilitative training and can't wait to be fully back in action in January."

Bayern, who are having to play their home games behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions imposed in Bavaria, face Mainz, Stuttgart and Wolfsburg before the Bundesliga takes its winter break.

Julian Nagelsmann's side beat Barcelona 3-0 on Wednesday in the Champions League, a victory that followed up Saturday's contentious 3-2 win over Borussia Dortmund.

That Klassiker success lifted Bayern four points clear at the top of the Bundesliga.

Serge Gnabry and Jamal Musiala will be back in the Bayern Munich squad to face Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday but Marcel Sabitzer is facing a spell on the sidelines.

Bayern have been hard hit by coronavirus, but Julian Nagelsmann revealed Gnabry, Musiala and Michael Cuisance will come out of quarantine on Friday.

The trio have been cleared to return after testing negative, but will not be considered to start.

Niklas Sule and Josip Stanisic have stepped up their recovery from COVID-19 in training this week, but neither will start the Bundesliga encounter this weekend.

Joshua Kimmich and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting remain in isolation after they contracted the virus.

Kimmich has come in for criticism for not taking the vaccine, but Nagelsmann has sympathy for the Germany midfielder.

Nagelsmann said in a press conference on Friday: "I have a lot of contact with him. He is extremely ambitious. It is a burden for him that he cannot play."

The Bayern boss revealed Sabitzer will be out for "a few weeks" due to a calf injury, while Tanguy Nianzou misses Bielefeld's visit to the Allianz Arena due to a torn ligament in his shoulder.

Leaders Bayern suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to Augsburg last Friday before beating Dinamo Kiev by the same scoreline in the Champions League.

Bielefeld are second-bottom of the table with only one win this season, but Nagelsmann says they must not be taken lightly. 

"Bielefeld have shown a clear improvement to last year. Masaya Okugawa is playing very well, has a lot of confidence on the ball and is versatile. They have a strong shape and always look to play deep.

"I know their coach [Frank Kramer]. Arminia have grown in terms of their physicality and the way in which they play. There are some parallels that can be drawn with Augsburg. It's a very important game for us."

Bayern Munich confirmed on Wednesday that Joshua Kimmich has tested positive for COVID-19.

The Germany star, who has stated he is unwilling to receive a coronavirus vaccine until more is known about possible long-term effects, missed Bayern's matches against Augsburg and Dynamo Kiev after being deemed a close contact of someone with the virus.

"Joshua Kimmich is self-isolating at home after testing positive for COVID-19. The FC Bayern midfielder is doing well," the Bundesliga champions said in a short statement.

The club previously announced forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting had also returned a positive test and could continue isolating at home.

The 32-year-old had already quarantined along with Kimmich, Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala and Michael Cuisance amid concerns about possible infection.

It was reported by Bild last week that any Bayern players who were forced to isolate having not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 would have their pay withheld for the duration of their absence from first-team duties.

Head coach Julian Nagelsmann had insisted he did not fear any such measures could cause friction within the squad.

Germany boss Hansi Flick told reporters he expected Kimmich to receive his vaccine when possible and defended the player from criticism.

"I think that it is going in this direction. We talked and I think it was a very good conversation. Now we have to wait and see," he said when asked if Kimmich would get the jab.

"Jo Kimmich is not to blame for the high number of infections. I don't think it's good that he is being pilloried in this way. It's not that easy for young people to deal with something like that."

Germany has recently seen a spike in coronavirus infections, with nearly 67,000 recorded on Wednesday, a record daily figure since the start of the pandemic.

The return of restrictions to halt the spread of the virus have been considered, while public spaces in some states have already introduced rules limiting access only to those who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus.

Joshua Kimmich will miss Bayern Munich's Bundesliga match at Augsburg on Friday as he is self-isolating after coming into close contact with someone who may have coronavirus.

Julian Nagelsmann on Thursday revealed that Kimmich missed training as a precautionary measure as Bayern awaited the results of his PCR test.

The Bundesliga champions confirmed on Friday that Kimmich, Niklas Sule and Josip Stanisic are in isolation.

Germany midfielder Kimmich, who has publicly confirmed he has not yet received either dose of his vaccine, had recently been forced into isolation along with Serge Gnabry and Jamal Musiala due to being in close contact with Niklas Sule.

Sule withdrew from the Germany squad to face Liechtenstein and Armenia after he tested positive for COVID-19.

Croatia defender Stanisic's positive test was revealed this week following his return from international duty.

Nagelsmann stated that Kimmich had come into close contact with an individual "in his private sphere" who may have the virus.

Kicker reported that Kimmich, Gnabry and Musiala – who are all unvaccinated – are being split up for the rest of the Bayern squad due a spike in COVID-19 cases. 

Kingsley Coman misses the clash with Augsburg due to a minor muscle problem.

Bayern Munich are waiting to discover if Joshua Kimmich will be available to face Augsburg on Friday after he was in close contact with someone who may have coronavirus.

Julian Nagelsmann confirmed Kimmich missed training on Thursday as a precautionary measure and the Bundesliga champions are awaiting the results of his PCR test.

Kimmich, who has publicly confirmed he has not yet received either dose of his vaccine, was recently forced into isolation along with Serge Gnabry and Jamal Musiala due to being in close contact with Niklas Sule.

Sule withdrew from the Germany squad to face Liechtenstein and Armenia after he tested positive for COVID-19.

Kicker reported that Kimmich, Serge Gnabry and Jamal Musiala – who are all unvaccinated – are being split up for the rest of the Bayern squad due a spike in coronavirus cases. 

Josip Stanisic was the latest Bayern player to return a positive COVID-19 test this week, with the Bavarian giants stating on Wednesday that the fully-vaccinated Croatia defender is isolating at home but feels "fine".

Nagelsmann revealed Kingsley Coman will miss the clash with Augsburg due to a minor muscle problem, but Leon Goretzka is fully fit.

The Bayern head coach will make a late decision on whether Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Alphonso Davies feature on Friday after they only returned from international duty on the eve of the game.

Hansi Flick would like all of Germany's players to get vaccinated against coronavirus, but does not judge those who wish not to be.

On Tuesday, Germany confirmed that Bayern Munich defender Niklas Sule – who is fully vaccinated – had tested positive for COVID-19. He was immediately placed into quarantine.

Squads no longer have to do mandatory PCR testing, but Germany elected to do so. With Sule testing positive, Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala, Karim Adeyemi and Joshua Kimmich were classed as close contacts and had to leave the training camp to isolate.

Another four players, who have not been named, were also said to have contact with Sule, but were allowed to remain at the camp. They will train alone and be monitored closely over the coming days.

Apart from Sule, no other positive cases were recorded.

While the vaccination status of Adeyemi, Musiala and Gnabry is not known, Bayern star Kimmich has publicly revealed he wishes to wait for more research to be completed on the vaccines before taking up the offer.

Though he would have preferred to avoid the subject and instead focus on Germany's World Cup qualifiers against Liechtenstein and Armenia, Flick reiterated his opinion that everybody should get vaccinated, but also stressed it must be down to the individual to make such a decision.

"There are enough experts who deal with it," Flick told a news conference on Wednesday.

"They have come to the conclusion that there is no compulsory vaccination. There are people in all areas who do not get vaccinated.

"We are in the public eye. We also have a great responsibility. But I've said everything about how I feel about it.

"I want the players to be vaccinated, but that's up to them. I hope that there will no longer be issues such as the five players we have to send home due to coronavirus, that is what I would like as a coach."

There has been a suggestion that players who are unvaccinated may not be able to compete at the 2022 World Cup.

"Qatar is still a long way off, we will see what comes next," he added.

"Our team doctor said enough yesterday. The fact is that we thought about it beforehand and tested ourselves. We feel it is our responsibility to ensure that we are all healthy.

"That something like this would happen to us was almost foreseeable. But we have no compulsory vaccination. I believe that people should not be judged who do not get vaccinated.

"For me the only way out of the pandemic is to get vaccinated – even in professional football. That is my opinion. But everyone has the right to refuse."

Flick also confirmed that Julian Draxler would miss Thursday's match against Liechtenstein with a muscle injury.

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