"It helps me become a more complete player"
Joshua Kimmich has played every minute of this current Bundesliga campaign and will continue to enjoy plenty of action in the coming weeks. One reason for that is because Niko Kovac has employed the 23-year-old at back right-back and in central midfield. This versatility is what makes the Germany international so valuable and at the same time poses a challenge to him. Speaking exclusively to fcbayern.com, Kimmich explains the importance of versatility for young players and gives his opinion on the record champions’ season so far.
Joshua, the team has started 2019 with back-to-back wins. What do you think of the opening to the year?
Kimmich: “It was okay even if everything wasn’t positive. We had a great first half in the first match against Hoffenheim, but the second 45 minutes was much more open and we had a bit of luck. Against Stuttgart it was the first half that was worse and the second that was better. The results were fine, but the way we won wasn’t what we had in mind.”
How can the team perform over the full 90 minutes?
Kimmich: “We’re working on it right now. We’ve had good spells and now have to make sure we can see that through with discipline.”
You set up two more goals against Stuttgart and are the top provider in the league. Do you enjoy assists as much as scoring?
Kimmich: “Of course I’m pleased with goals and assists, especially because it means I'm helping the team. But I’m also happy when I’m not involved in goals but we still win. My main job is to defend, to make sure we don’t concede. And we need to improve there."
What’s the reason for things not being perfect in defence?
Kimmich: “Right now we’re not managing to dominate the game for the full 90 minutes. The problem isn’t just in defence or midfield but the entire group needs to work together. We need to improve in that regard.”
The games start to come thick and fast now with Bayer Leverkusen, Hertha Berlin and Schalke all in the space of eight days. Are you looking forward to things really getting going again or do you feel you need a week or two more in training to work on some specific things?
Kimmich: “We’ve had enough time to work on processes. I think we’re well prepared. Having games every three days is the best thing for us footballers. You don’t train a lot because you get to play the whole time.”
There’s likely to be some rotation again and you might be used in different positions. Like Leon Goretzka and Serge Gnabry, you’re not confined to one position. Is this versatility important for young players in particular?
Kimmich: “It’s important to be versatile in various positions if you want to break through at Bayern. An 18 or 20-year-old doesn’t normally arrive in Munich and is immediately made first-choice full-back by the coach. I was able to play in several positions so got into the team as a centre-back, full-back and central midfielder. It meant the coach at the time always had the option to play me. That helped me a lot, but of course the goal is to make a certain position your own.”
Is it fun to always try out new positions and test yourself?
Kimmich: “I find it fun, especially right now where I’m playing in defensive midfield and on the right of defence. They’re two completely different positions. That’s good for me to get a different perspective of the game. I learn a lot from it. You need different skills as a right-back than as a holding midfielder. It helps me become a more complete player."
Can you name a few aspects where that’s the case?
Kimmich: "You cover a lot of ground in both positions, but as a right-back you have more quicker and intensive runs. In defensive midfield you have to hold your position and move a lot there. On the right you’re limited by the size of the pitch before you run out of space. In the middle you can receive the ball from all angles and continue the play in all directions. It feels like you’re always in the game, which isn’t always the case out wide when the ball is on the left, for example. As a right-back you’re faced with more one-on-one situations, as a DM you often have teammates around you to help.”
You turn 24 on 8 February. What’s your wish for this season?
Kimmich: “In a sporting sense, of course I want to be German champion again, but Dortmund are doing really well at the moment. We’re doing well to just focus on ourselves. We still have a lot of tough games to come, and we need to concentrate on them. The situation is different from recent years because we’re not top of the league. Every game counts. We can’t lose many games now, in best case none at all. I absolutely want to get to the next round of the DFB Cup against Hertha, and in the Champions League I’m looking forward to the Liverpool tie. And then above all I want to stay fit so I can keep putting in top performances on the pitch.”
Interview by Marius Achatz