Amid the handshakes and the hugs there was a moment at the end of Der Klassiker – Borussia Dortmund's twice-yearly clash with FC Bayern München – when visiting coach Pep Guardiola could be seen in intense conversation with Joshua Kimmich.
The 21-year-old midfielder had just put in an outstanding display out of position at centre-half against one of Europe's most feared attacks, but, much to the bemusement of the watching world, the Catalan tactician had seemingly spotted some improvements and was keen to convey his thoughts to Kimmich immediately.
"The conversation was just about the fact that I was meant to take Xabi Alonso's position," Kimmich told Germany's leading sport magazine kicker after the stalemate. "I should have been playing a bit deeper. I know what he's [Guardiola] like and obviously he can be emotional, so it was no problem at all."
Archetypal defensive display
When Medhi Benatia replaced Alonso in the closing stages at the SIGNAL IDUNA PARK, Kimmich moved into midfield from defence, where he had produced a flawless display, winning nine tackles and completing a remarkable 105 passes – more than any other player on the pitch.
Kimmich's performance was a key factor in Dortmund's attack, including Marco Reus, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – the joint-most prolific in the top-flight this term - drawing a first blank on home turf in the Bundesliga all season.
One moment in the first half underlined why Kimmich's qualities have allowed such a seamless transition into the heart of defence. With Aubameyang sent free in behind the Bayern backline and racing away, the youngster chased at furious pace, and while not quite catching the Gabon international, the eventual scuffed shot could certainly be attributed to Kimmich's presence.
'He deserves everything that comes his way'
"My only thought was that I should really get going so that I could stay close to him," Kimmich said afterwards. "Not many players catch him up when he really gets going, though, and we knew beforehand that it would be really difficult to defend against him if we were too high up the field. You always have to be a step ahead."
Concentration and determination are, according to Guardiola, attributes that have enabled the former RB Leipzig man to thrive in his new role. "We knew he's not quicker than Aubameyang – that's impossible – but he's always switched on, strong in the air and confident in possession," said the Bayern coach after Der Klassiker. "I can only pay a huge compliment to Joshua Kimmich – he deserves everything that comes his way."
Those qualities cited by Guardiola have been on show plenty in recent weeks, as Kimmich has stepped in to play his part in solving Bayern's defensive crisis. With the youngster at the heart of the back four, the champions have recorded clean sheets against Bayer 04 Leverkusen, VfL Wolfsburg and now Dortmund in recent weeks.
"The main difference [between playing in defence and midfield] is that when you make a mistake in defence, there aren't as many team-mates around you, apart from Manuel Neuer," said Kimmich of his new role. "When you're in holding midfield, you have a back four behind you, and so mistakes aren't punished as quickly."
While Kimmich learnt that lesson the hard way against Juventus in the Bavarians' 2-2 draw in Turin in the UEFA Champions League Round-of-16 first leg recently, little seems able to dampen Guardiola's praise for his accidental defensive star.
"He's got everything," said Guardiola. "He can do everything and he gives everything. He's capable of defending against any player in the world. Don't say that Kimmich cannot play in defence. He's already a really serious player."