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Bayern Munich's Joshua Zirkzee looks like he belongs

February 29, 2020

Without Robert Lewandowski there were concerns that Bayern Munich would struggle without their main source of goals, but they had no reason to worry. Academy player Joshua Zirkzee looked right at home.

Fußball Bundesliga TSG 1899 Hoffenheim v FC Bayern München Tor Zirkzee
Image: Reuters/K. Pfaffenbach

Hoffenheim 0-6 Bayern Munich
(Gnabry 2', Kimmich 7', Zirkzee 15', Coutinho 34', 47', Goretzka 62')

Joshua Zirkzee looked like he had been there all along.

Just 120 seconds in and the teenager's instinctive touch set Bayern on their way to their first goal. Five minutes later, his blocked shot led to Bayern's second. It wasn't long after that the teenager making his starting Bundesliga debut scored one of his own. Like much of his so far young career at Bayern, Zirkzee didn't need any time at all to make his impact.

Without Robert Lewandowski, there were concerns Bayern's great run under Hansi Flick would start to stutter. Could Bayern pose the same problems in attack, where would their goals come from, and would Hoffenheim secure another upset against the defending champions?

Bayern needed just a quarter of an hour to silence any concerns. Flick's side were as ruthless as they have been all season, pressing and pushing for more in a manner that Bayern haven't really done since the Pep Guardiola years. This was a demonstration of power, a reminder of who the real sheriff in Bundesliga town is, and a young Dutchman was at the heart of it.

Everywhere on the pitch but always at home

At 1.93m, Zirkzee is a bigger figure than Lewandowski. He used that strength to hold off Sebastian Rudy before turning the former Bayern and Germany midfielder around. Keeping his composure, the 18-year-old simply waited for the space to open up in the box. When it did, he didn't hesitate to use his weaker foot to apply the necessary finish.

Fußball Bundesliga TSG 1899 Hoffenheim v FC Bayern München Tor Zirkzee
Image: Getty Images/Bongarts/M. Hangst

Bayern's hosts played their part, but Bayern also did more than accept the invitation. They took the vibe to another level. Philippe Coutinho went from looking down and out to scoring two goals, while Thiago continued to conduct proceedings with his usual mastery. Bayern were so relentless that they scored one minute after the restart and even at the arrival of the hour mark, they looked desperate for more.

Were it not for the dramatic scenes that led to the game first being interrupted and then played out in a bizarre method of protest, Zirkzee's performance might have been the headline.

The Dutchman never forced the issue because he didn't need to. He was in rhythm with Bayern's beat. His touch and feel for the ball looked like those of a more experienced player. Zirkzee ran, he passed, he slipped in and out of the channels, he even delivered a crunching tackle on the edge of the box he was attacking. He was everywhere.

After scoring the winner against Freiburg with his first touch off the bench on debut in December, Zirkzee needed just three minutes to break the deadlock against Wolfsburg three days later. In Sinsheim, the teenager needed a quarter of an hour to prove that he is at home at this level.

Just a day after Bayern Munich celebrated their 120th birthday, the real gift for Bayern wasn't another rousing performance but the long-awaited unleashing of an academy talent in a position they so desperately need depth in.