Bayern Munich must do without five quarantined stars, including Joshua Kimmich, in the Champions League as the absent midfield dynamo fuels debate in Germany after refusing to be vaccinated against Covid.
The Bavarian giants are already guaranteed a last 16 place as Group E winners ahead of today’s match at bottom side Dynamo Kiev.
However, Kimmich, who declined to be vaccinated due to “personal concerns”, was quarantined Friday for the second time this month after contact with someone who tested positive.
On Sunday, Bayern confirmed their other unvaccinated players Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Michael Cuisance are also in quarantine because of a new coronavirus exposure.
Having five players sidelined through their own choices is an unwelcome distraction before heading to Ukraine.
“It’s annoying,” said head coach Julian Nagelsmann before the weekend, irritated that few questions are being fielded about football as “we seem to only be talking about the pandemic.”
Bayern particularly missed Kimmich’s midfield presence in Friday’s shock 2-1 defeat at Augsburg as stand-in Marcel Sabitzer struggled, yielding possession which led to one of the hosts’ goals.
Now Nagelsmann needs to find suitable replacements for first-choice stars Kimmich and Gnabry in Kiev.
Defeat in Augsburg meant Bayern finished the weekend with their lead in the Bundesliga slashed to a point, but Nagelsmann refused to blame Kimmich’s enforced absence. “It’s no excuse,” he said.
Yet, Kimmich keeps making daily headlines in Germany for all the wrong reasons.
Critics accuse him of neglecting his duties as a role model, calling on Kimmich to get vaccinated to set an example in football-mad Germany.
Germany is in the grip of a vicious fourth wave with a weekly incidence rate of 340.7 recorded infections per 100,000 people on Friday.
Champions League fixtures
Dynamo Kyiv v Bayern
Villarreal v Man United
Chelsea v Juventus
Barca v Benfica
Sevilla v Wolfsburg
Malmo v Zenit
Lille v RB Salzburg
Young Boys v Atalata
Source: – AFP