Philipp Lahm to Joshua Kimmich: Two Generations Of Greatness

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FC Bayern Munich, the most decorated club in German football is a club that has never been short of absolute natural talent and leadership in their squad. Some of the football’s global icons in history have donned the famous red of Bayern, from “Der Kaiser”, Franz Beckenbauer to one of the most complete midfield players in history Lothar Matthaus. In more recent times FC Bayern found a club legend in one of their own, Philipp Lahm, a true legend of the modern game.

In Philipp Lahm, Bayern Munich had one of the most consistent and versatile players of his generation, a true footballing Swiss Army knife. Although many remember Lahm as a right-back or central midfielder in his later career, he found great success as a left-back while on loan at Stuttgart and while playing in the international setup. Lahm was a core part then leader of the German spine that has always been integral to the success that Bayern has enjoyed over the past last decade or so. 

While many players had come and gone through the doors of the Allianz Arena, Lahm was one of the few who remained and became an inspiration and role model to those who now find themselves leading the once again European powerhouse, FC Bayern Munich.

Joshua Kimmich: Comparisons

One of the players that has drawn massive comparisons to Philip Lahm is none other than German international and Bayern Munich star, Joshua Kimmich. Bayern under the reign of Pep Guardiola lured Kimmich to Bayern Munich in the January of 2015 from VFB Stuttgart who had reactivated a buy back clause from RB Leipzig. He arrived with some high expectations having been playing a key part to Leipzig’s recent rise through the German leagues while also been a large fee for a twenty year old with no experience in the top level of domestic football. 

Kimmich went on to make his Bayern debut in the DFB Pokal against FC Gottingen, then going on to make his Bundesliga debut just over a month later in a home tie against FC Augsburg. No less than four days later, Kimmich replacing an injured Arjen Robben after half an hour made his Champions League debut at home to Greek champions Olympiakos.

Playing the majority of the season as right back after club captain Lahm was moved into central midfield by head coach Pep Guardiola. During the 2015-16 season, Kimmich had played a total of twenty-three leagues games of which 15 were starts, while also playing in nine Champions League ties and four DFB Pokal games including the full match including extra time, although missing a penalty in the shootout in the final victory over Borussia Dortmund.

He finished the season with a Bundesliga and DFB Pokal winners medal, this was more than enough for Germany international manager Joachim Lowe to call up Kimmich to his Euro 2016 squad.   At was at this point after Kimmich playing alongside Philipp Lahm almost week in week out with Bayern, Kimmich was looking to take the place of the recently internationally retired Lahm’s position at right-back in the German national squad.

Joshua Kimmich: International Notoriety

The Euro tournament in the summer of 2016 is what truly burst Joshua Kimmich onto the international scene. He did not start the first two group games as he was the second choice behind Benedikt Howedes and did not play any part until the final group game. Kimmich was named in the starting line up ahead of Howedes for the final group game against Northern Ireland in which he helped Germany secure their qualification from Group C in the top spot with a comfortable 1-0 victory and in turn keeping a clean sheet.

Kimmich received raved reviews following his performance against Northern Ireland with head coach Lowe commenting, “I thought Joshua Kimmich did really well on the right. He made some good runs, put some crosses in, and never really looked nervous. He’s a very clever lad and good in the air too, so I was very happy with his performance.” After Northern Ireland Game he was seen by everyone as the automatic first-team choice for right back.

Germany fans and neutral fans instantly started to fall in love with his attacking runs down the right-hand side and his undoubted technical ability and reading of the game. Kimmich had gone on to start the remainder of the games Germany played in the tournament as they reached the semi-finals before losing out to eventual runners-up France.

Kimmich’s form did not go unrecognized by his peers at the tournament though as he was named into UEFA’s Team of the Tournament, this was regarded by some as a passing of the guard for German international football and a chance for young blood to come into the team following the team’s exit.

The following year would be the last in the playing career of Philipp Lahm, he announced at the start of the February of 2017 that he would be retiring come the end of the season. That season saw Kimmich come into his own in the Bayern squad playing a total of forty games over season while adding nine goals along with two assists.

Fans of Bayern now were not the only ones who seen Kimmich as the long term successor to the club icon Lahm, experts and pundits alike started to notice the similarities of not only playstyle and work rate but how vocal he is on the pitch leading the team with pure passion and intensity. Lahm retired that season after playing more than five hundred competitive appearances from his debut in 2002 across fifteen years, all while collecting an abundance of medals and individual honors along the way.

Joshua Kimmich the Star

In the years following we have now seen the comparisons between Lahm and Kimmich becoming a normality now. In the 2019-20 season Kimmich was at the heart of one of the most dominant forces in European football, winning all available competitions they took part in with relative ease.

Perhaps his greatest performance in a Bayern shirt had come in the quarter-final of the Champions League, an 8-2 demolition of FC Barcelona, during which game he scored and assisted all while marking arguably the greatest player of all time Lionel Messi, out the game.

After his unbelievable performance in the quarter-final, Kimmich then went on to keep a clean sheet against the most expensive front three in the history of football from Paris Saint Germain. Bayern defeated PSG 1-0 thanks to a headed goal from Kingsley Coman which was assisted by none other than Joshua Kimmich.

Joshua Kimmich has gone on to smash those expectations that followed while being seen as Lahm’s long term replacement, not only that, he has made the similar steps Lahm also made in his career transferring to a more central midfield role all while being utilized across the Bayern defensive line, another true Swiss army knife of the game. Kimmich is now seen as one of the global superstars of football, won numerous trophies and individual awards. Joshua Kimmich is on the path to greatness following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Philipp Lahm. 

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Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa is a writer, editor, and radio producer from Mexico. He loves Salsa music and lives in a place literally called Paradise.