Bayern Munich's Leon Goretzka: Living up to 'SCOREtzka' nickname and MD27’s Man of the Matchday
Leon Goretzka ended Matchday 27 as the latest man adorned with a Müllerism, having continued his remarkable run of form by firing Bayern Munich seven points clear of RB Leipzig with victory over their closest title rivals.
With Robert Lewandowski sidelined due to injury, thoughts turned to where Bayern’s goals would come from without the man who has dealt in serious bulk in front of goal this season.
It was an especially pertinent question with crunch fixtures against Leipzig domestically and Paris Saint-Germain in Europe lined up in quick succession.
The likes of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting furthest forward, and Kingsley Coman, Serge Gnabry, Thomas Müller and Leroy Sane nearest in support were natural fits to shoulder the goalscoring burden but Goretzka’s emergence as the go-to in front of goal should come as no surprise.
Watch: Goretzka fires Bayern past Leipzig
Müller, for one, saw it coming as the man that dubbed Bayern’s Poland captain Robert LewanGOALski said it would be "a certain Leon SCOREtzka" that supplied the firepower in the absence of the Bundesliga’s record non-German goalscorer.
After his heroics against Leipzig, Goretzka said in reply: "We spoke about that yesterday, so I had to deliver today. Apparently he was a bit bored during the international break."
Goretzka certainly did deliver, arriving in the box with a perfectly timed run before lashing home from Müller’s superb cutback.
Bayern skipper Manuel Neuer was another who was far from caught off guard by the Müller-Goretzka combination delivering the only goal of the game.
Neuer said: “Thomas’ assist was really good, and we know all about those shots from Leon. He’s already scored a few from outside the box.”
You can see why both Müller and Neuer placed such confidence in Goretzka, when you look at his recent record; the German midfielder has scored three times in his last four top-flight games and created four assists in his last five.
Most impressively, Goretzka’s MD24 strike against Borussia Dortmund made it 3-2 after Bayern had trailed by two goals, his effort a week later put Hansi Flick’s team in front against a rejuvenated - and immensely stubborn - Werder Bremen and the 26-year-old’s goal at the weekend ended up being the decider as first met second.
They all serve as evidence of Goretzka’s growing influence at the Allianz Arena, an added responsibility - and capability - to deliver when his team needs him the most that the player himself attributes to the belief Flick places in him.
“[Flick] wants me to take more responsibility, to support the team vocally, to carry my teammates in the way I play football and make sure we have the right intensity on the pitch. They’re things he expects of me,” Goretzka recently told bundesliga.com.
“You can always have a good day or a bad day but there are things which I’m expected to do to help the team and I can do those regardless of what kind of day I’m having.
“I try, like everyone else, to show my strengths on the pitch to strengthen the collective.”
Goretzka certainly does just that and his transformation - not only physically, but both technically and mentally, too - has been nothing short of remarkable since Flick took charge just under 18 months ago.
It helped Bayern to unprecedented success in 2020, while maintaining that charge both home and abroad in 2021 ahead of a summer that will see Goretzka play an important role in Germany’s UEFA European Championship tilt.
If he continues to step up to the plate for both club and country then it will bode well for all involved, but - for now, at least - Goretzka is concentrating firmly on the present as Bayern look to retain their domestic and European crowns.
"There are still 21 points to be awarded,” he pragmatically reminded the media after his match-winner against Leipzig. “Today was a big step, but not the decisive one."
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