After six long months, one of Germany’s most creative and talented midfielders returned from her hip injury in March. Sydney Lohmann is back, and she only needed four matches to prove how important she is to her team.
When the final whistle blew at the Parc des Princes in Paris on 30 March 2022, the exhaustion of Bayern Munich’s players was evident. Hit by a covid outbreak shortly before the second leg against PSG, Bayern only had ten senior outfield players. Given the numerous absences and the 1-2 defeat at home, Jens Scheuer’s side were the underdogs without a shadow of a doubt. In a stadium packed with 27.000 enthusiastic PSG fans, it seemed all but unavoidable that they would see their team cheering at the end.
What Bayern did then was nothing short of spectacular, a tour de force under highly unfavourable conditions. The Bavarians had the upper hand after 90 minutes, leading 2-1—and deservedly so. It was only in the 112th minute that a Ramona Bachmann strike crushed Bayern’s hopes. Bayern were out of the UWCL, but their fighting spirit, cohesiveness, and attacking style had won them many sympathies.
Lohmann’s impressive UWCL comeback
Playing at such a high level for 120 minutes is already a remarkable performance. But doing this only twelve days after your comeback and being one of your team’s best players on top of that is outstanding.
Sydney Lohmann did that, and her performance showed again why she is one of the few players that simply cannot be replaced. She invigorated Bayern’s attacks with line-breaking passes and clever runs behind PSG’s lines.Embed from Getty Images
In the previous games, Lohmann had been a standout performer for her team as well. After just five games played, it is already unimaginable that she will be left out of Germany’s Euros squad, if she stays fit. But what makes the 21-year-old so special?
A Bayern player for almost six years now, Lohmann came to the club’s academy as a teenager. Her talent was visible early on, making her debut for the first team with 17, just a few months after joining Bayern. Since the 2018 season, the Bavarian has been a key player for her team, debuting for the national team in the same year.
Her breakthrough at such an early age was mainly due to the qualities that still set her apart from others: her intelligence, dynamic, and physicality. We will have a closer look at each of them now.
Lohmann’s intelligence gives Bayern unpredictability in attack
Being able to anticipate an opponent’s passes and movements is crucial for an attacking midfielder. Sydney Lohmann often is one step ahead of her opponents thanks to her game intelligence and short reaction time. To understand why these qualities are crucial for this Bayern team, we will have a short look at their attacking play:
Boasting superb individual quality in the full-back and winger positions, Bayern naturally like to play through the wings.
As you can see here, one of Bayern’s most successful and most used patterns goes through the wings.
A winger or fullback receives the ball out wide. They manage to cross or pass thanks to an overlap or winning a 1v1 duel, and an unmarked forward scores. The individual quality of Bühl and Gwinn out wide and Schüller, Rall, or Damnjanovic in the box makes this a very efficient pattern against many Bundesliga teams. But against a well-organized defense, Bayern can struggle to create from these situations.
Vision for line-breaking passes
This is where Lohmann comes into play, adding ingenuity and depth. She often scans the pitch, assessing her options so she already knows where to pass when she receives the ball. Combined with her vision for line-breaking passes, this is a powerful weapon in Bayern’s arsenal. Lohmann finds space when others might think there is none and makes her team’s attacks a lot more unpredictable.
In this example from the first leg against PSG, Lohmann sees the gap between Hamraoui and Diallo. Her quick pass to Bühl immediately brings her into a dangerous position. One of the qualities that make Lohmann special is her instinct on when to drive with the ball and when to play a pass to penetrate the opponent’s defense.
Quick reactions and intuition: threat at set pieces
She also reacts very quickly, which makes her a threat at set pieces. When there is chaos after a corner, Lohmann will often exploit it and reacts the fastest:
Important on both sides of the pitch
Defensively as well, Lohmann is an asset for Bayern. Lohmann’s work rate should also be mentioned here. In the style of a true midfield engine, she covers most areas of the pitch and can disrupt build-up play. At times, she even dropped back into the defensive line to provide cover for the fullback. Here, her anticipation helps Bayern as she intercepts in a dangerous area.
This sequence is a great example of Lohmann’s importance on both sides of the pitch. Bayern had just lost the ball in attack, and Lohmann comes back. She sees that three of her teammates press the PSG player, anticipates that the pass could be imprecise, speeds up, and wins the ball. Hamraoui can only stop her with a foul – a situation that occurred often across both legs.
In the 147 minutes she played, Lohmann was fouled 9 times. This means that she suffered a foul every 15 minutes on average. To put these numbers into context: Ballon D’or winner Alexia got fouled the second most times in the competitions (19) but played more than 600 minutes (https://www.uefa.com/womenschampionsleague/statistics/players/disciplinary/?sortBy=distance_covered).
Creating space for others through dribbling
This leads us to the second key quality of Lohmann, her dynamic and dribbling prowess. Not only does she find space for her teammates, but she also creates it herself by drawing multiple opponents to her.
In this scene, Lohmann starts one of her characteristic quick runs with the ball. PSG center-back De Almeida leaves her position to stop her, which leaves space for Bayern’s attackers. Both Bühl and Magull make runs into the box now, and De Almeida’s partner Karchaoui can’t decide which one to mark. With composure and good timing, as mentioned above, Lohmann plays a key pass to Bühl, almost leading to a goal.
As you can see here, Lohmann is the complete package for a creative midfielder and excels at creating by both passing and dribbling.
Explosive and gifted with a good technique, Lohmann causes havoc in many defenses and is hard to stop. Like in this example against Turbine Potsdam last season, she has the ability to go past several defenders. This season, Lohmann’s success rate for dribbles is an impressive 72,73%
Assertiveness and strength in aerial duels
Lohmann’s ability to keep the ball has a lot to do with her assertiveness. Here, Hamraoui tries to push her off the ball, but Lohmann stays on her feet.
In aerial duels as well, her physical strength helps Lohmann to assert herself. This quality is useful after set pieces and crosses, of course: Six of Lohmann’s 15 goals last season were headers. But it also helps to secure long balls and initiate attacks, as shown in the last video.
Room for improvement
Naturally, Lohmann is still young and while she deserves all the praise she gets, her game isn’t flawless. The long absence is still palpable, as some of her passes are too long and the coordination with her teammates is a bit off at times. But these problems are normal after such an absence and are likely to diminish soon.
Lohmann’s attacking stats are already at an extremely high level and she’s one of the most threatening midfielders in the league. However, she still has room for improvement concerning defensive contributions and passes into the final third.
Pressing after turnovers
In some situations, Lohmann also loses the ball, which is normal for a player that dribbles a lot. But what players do after a turnover matter as well.
Here, Lohmann reacts quickly again and presses Geyoro after having lost the ball, forcing her to the edge of the pitch. There, the French midfielder passes to Baltimore, who also doesn’t have a plethora of options with Hanna Glas behind her. Lohmann anticipates the pass back to Geyoro even before Baltimore has received the ball, as her body movement shows. Having won the ball back, she directly initiates the next attack.
The x-factor for Bayern and Germany
Sydney Lohmann is an intelligent, technically gifted, and explosive player who can cause problems to any defense. Her unpredictability and dynamic make her an irreparable player for Bayern and the national team. Both have struggled with being too inert in possession, and Lohmann can be the x-factor in those moments.