Bayern Munich′s Leon Goretzka enjoys and excels in 2019 Bundesliga opener | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 18.01.2019
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Bayern Munich's Leon Goretzka enjoys and excels in 2019 Bundesliga opener

Bayern Munich delivered an impressive performance against Hoffenheim, both collectively and individually. One man stood out, and the midfielder hasn't always been one of the first to deliver — until matchday 18.

It's always presumptuous to take one individual performance and declare it a defining moment, but Leon Goretzka's game-winning performance for Bayern Munich to restart the Bundesliga season felt like an arrival story. 

Finally, Goretzka was doing the things Bayern signed him to do. The 23-year-old looked like he belonged among the achievement-riddled stars at Germany's most successful club.

By opening up space in between the lines and adding a playmaking option beyond Thiago, Goretzka was masterful playing in behind the strikers. Afterwards, he admitted what appeared evident throughout the game: that he had fun playing in the No. 10 role again.

Bayern have made strides to solve the Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery sized holes that will soon appear, but down the middle it is more often Thiago or James that pulls the defining strings. On Friday, though, it was Goretzka's turn to direct proceedings.

Game-changing performance

The goals, first picking up on a rebound and then later timing his run perfectly to divert a cross, will put his name in the headlines, but his performance that should be what takes up most of the characters on social media posts.

1. Bundesliga | TSG 1899 Hoffenheim vs. FC Bayern München | Tor (0:1) (picture-alliance/dpa/U. Anspach)

Leon Goretzka (left) scored Bayern Munich's first goal on Friday

The Bochum boy was bursting through the middle and looking to shoot, or drifting into space out wide to cross into the middle, or timing a late run so as to expose a Hoffenheim defense too occupied with dealing with Robert Lewandowski. Everything about Bayern's impressive first-half display came through their number 18. In short, Goretzka changed the game.

For the final 10 minutes, he dropped deeper so as to allow Rodriguez the chance to push on. Deeper, he is capable of recycling possession, stuffing gaps and holding the base of a midfield but it is not where he excels. The 80 minutes beforehand were enough proof of that.

Other than the goal and assist he provided in just the second game of the season in an away win in Stuttgart, Goretzka has been inconsistent, floating around a team under a head coach, Niko Kovac, that didn't seem to know where to put him. More of that may come in the months ahead, but on this Friday night in January, the very opposite was true.

Goretzka was at his very best and as much fun as he had playing, it was also so much fun to watch him.

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