The transfer of Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona in the summer has seen Bayern Munich depart from their use of a traditional number nine this season in favour of a more fluid front three. The Bavarians however have a ready-made alternative t and he’s showing that a return to the ‘old way’ is still an option.
Having acted as Robert Lewandowski’s understudy for the past few seasons Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has been forced to remain in his back-up role this season as Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann tries to shoe-horn new signing Sadio Mané, Leroy Sané, Thomas Müller, Jamal Musiala, Serge Gnabry, and teenager Mathys Tel into a front three.
Against Freiburg on Sunday Choupo-Moting was given the chance to impress and did just that showing that he can provide a Plan B in attack and return to the way Bayern played with Lewandowski.
The 33-year-old scored Bayern’s second in their 5-0 win and was heavily involved in the opener scored by Serge Gnabry. His combination play was excellent as evidenced by the home side’s third scored by Leroy Sané from a delightful pass into his run.
An hour was enough to display to Julian Nagelsmann that as before, the Cameroon striker can be relied on when called upon. “Choupo did very well, he brought his success in practice into the pitch and certainly he deserved to play a little bit earlier maybe at some stage,” Nagelsmann said after the game.
“I’m very happy to have him. We know we can rely on Choupo. He got a great goal. He’s a great player all around. We’re happy that we have him.”
The player himself was glad to find the back after the net for the first time since February. “I try to step on the gas every day in training and the boys see that. I know what I can do and that I can help the team.
“Julian knows that I see it that way and I told him so. It’s nice that it worked out and of course I want to keep playing a lot and be successful with the team.”
At 33 and not blessed with pace, it is unlikely that he will lead the Bayern attack on a more regular basis, but with many people yearning for a return to the days when the Rekordmeister lined-up with a traditional number nine, Choupo-Moting has sent out a reminder that he is still a very good Plan B.