During Bayern Munich’s 3-1 victory over Augsburg, you may have noticed staff and players of the three-time defending Bundesliga champion wearing a T-shirt.
The message on the shirt was to support defender Holger Badstuber as he broke an ankle in practice and is expected to be out for three months. Badstuber has suffered many injuries in the past couple of years and this incident is the latest in a series of unfortunate events.
“We were all shocked. It was immediately clear that it was something serious. The atmosphere in the evening and also on the bus was one of deep sadness. If someone has to fight so often against injuries and give well in excess of one hundred percent, it is very, very bitter when he then has to accept another setback. I hope that he can again come back as he did after his recent injury,” said Bayern’s captain Philipp Lahm.
The 26-year-old joins fellow center-backs Medhi Benatia, Jerome Boateng and Javi Martinez on Die Bayern’s injury list. This means the only central defender the 17-time DFB-Pokal Cup winners have healthy is Serdar Tasci who joined the club on loan from FC Spartak Moscow. In Sunday’s Bavarian derby, Bayern played David Alaba, normally a left-back, in central defense with Joshua Kimmich, who is a midfielder. Kimmich has played in the central defense since the German international suffered a groin injury against Hamburg last month. Pep Guardiola is known for his philosophy of controlling possession and he prefers his teams to build play from the back. With Boateng being out, he’s lost not only a world-class defender but someone who is gifted at distributing the ball and starting counterattacks. Kimmich has been given the former Manchester City man’s role in the back line and has done well for someone who is a novice at playing in defense.
“It is virtually impossible to play any better than Joshua has for us recently,” said Guardiola following the win on Sunday.
Martinez tweeted on January 31, “Thank you all for caring! Fortunately it’s not a serious injury.” The Spanish international suffered meniscal damage in one of his knees and had surgery to fix the issue. He was ruled out four weeks after a successful operation on February 2. The 27-year-old is similar to Badstuber as he also has a long history of injury issues. Martinez would’ve been the perfect replacement for Boateng due to his primary position being a defensive midfielder. His size along with his technical talents as a passer would’ve been valuable but he should be back by March 2. Benatia seems to be the only injured central defender that will be ready to play this month. The Moroccan international had a torn muscle, which he suffered on December 10 but may be ready to play when Bayern host SV Darmstadt 98 on Saturday.
Following their league match on the weekend, the five-time European champions travel to Italy to face Arturo Vidal’s former club Juventus for the first leg in their Round of 16 matchup in the Champions League. The four-time defending Serie A champions have an abundance in attacking talent led by forwards Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata. Behind them normally is Paul Pogba, who has bounced back from his poor form at the beginning of the season. The 25-time German hope their central defense issues won’t harm their chances in winning the most prestigious trophy in club soccer.