Bayern Munich season review: Midfielders and Forwards

Dennis Grombkowski

The writing staff at Bavarian Football Works sat down to review the season that the club's midfielders and forwards had in 2012-2013.

We continue our review of the legendary 2012-2013 campaign with a look at the fantastic performances displayed by the midfielders and forwards at the club.

Central Midfielders

Bastian Schweinsteiger (Samrin)

Bayern's fall after his injury last season is well documented. He was and is the heart and soul of this Bayern side. (I know I have now mentioned this for the millionth time). Also, he has been arguably the best midfielder of this past season. He has excelled in an attacking role, in an anchor role and in a scoring role. When he has had to, he has sat deep to protect the back four. As Javier Martinez provided additional protection to the back four, Schweini was able to move forward, join the attack and score. He scored some wonderful goals with the pick of them perhaps being the perfect free kick against Lille Metropole. Next season, Basti will continue to be the leading man in the Bayern midfield. The Spanish think highly of him; he was courted by Real Madrid previously. Pep Guardiola will perhaps keep him in his role; he will also be one of the first names on the team sheet.

Luiz Gustavo (Davis)

With the acquisition of Javi Martinez, Luiz Gustavo's time on the pitch became more scarce. That might have been more to his benefit than to his detriment. He was acquired for €15 million, yes, but transfermarkt.com now values him at €18 million. His performance also got the attention of Felipe Scolari from the Brazilian national team, and he has started in every game in the Confederations Cup. But what did he do? Well, he was essentially Schweinsteiger-Lite, playing deeper in the park and weeding balls through. He committed a lot of fouls and got in a lot of yellow card danger (including a Bundesliga one-match ban), but since his time on the pitch was so scarce, it did not impact the team. With his contract not running out until 2015, Gustavo will be a good role-player for Bayern for the next two seasons, just like the 25-year-old was this season.

Emre Can (Scott)

As one of the youngest players in Bayern's first team, he only saw limited action last season as he was battling his way through a particularly deep Bayern squad at the midfield positions. He actually began the season on the bench, though was never subbed on, until the arrival of Javi Martinez. This of course, after Can had an impressive preseason that landed him in the first team. He also missed a good portion of the middle of the season with an ankle injury, but returned to the Bayern II squad to play with the reserves 14 times. Once the Bundesliga title had been sealed, Can found himself on the bench again and eventually made four appearances, two as a sub and two as a starter. His highlight of the season was probably scoring against SC Freiburg (Well, at least he was credited with the goal, though it's not clear he actually touched Shaqiri's free kick). The overall feeling of those performances was that he played well and capably, but that it probably wasn't his time to contribute to the first team quite yet. It would come as no shock if Bayern sent him out on loan next season. A similar situation did wonders for Toni Kroos.

Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (Phillip)

Tymo spent the majority of the season as a reserve and performed quite well in his duties. The Ukrainian is on his way back to Zenit St. Petersburg for next season now that his Bayern contract has expired. Tymo played fewer games this season than he has in any other season since joining Bayern. This season, he showed exactly why Bayern signed him so many years ago. He was the consummate professional and played in central midfield or central defense. Basically, he played anywhere and everywhere that the club needed him to play. As he leaves the club, we bid farewell and wish Tymo the best of luck in his future career.

Javi Martinez (Ryan)

The 24 year old Spaniard arrived at the beginning of this season, the subject of a long, drawn out, and still confusing transfer process from Athletic Bilbao. Martinez was considered a luxury signing, a feeling that was exacerbated by the ludicrously huge €40M buyout clause that had be exercised to just get him to Munich.

Nobody could have predicted the equally outrageous results (besides the front office) as the defensive midfielder proved to be exactly what FC Bayern needed on their way to the treble and European domination. The defensive stalwart provided a dominating center of the park influence that allowed Bastian Schweinsteiger to roam a little more freely. He was a rock, logging 3071 minutes across 43 appearances and 3 competitions. He provided an extra danger on set pieces, giving Bayern just that extra touch of lethality. It even led several of our writers to claim his as this season's MVP.

Javi Martinez is 24. Let that soak in. He and Bastian Schweinsteiger are going to partner for many years to come, and given their already impressive play together, we should expect the coming years to be absolutely incredible.

Attacking Midfielders

Toni Kroos (Davis)

When FC Bayern acquired Robben for €24 million, nobody would have ever expected that anyone would supplant him in the Starting XI. Then Robben got hurt, and Kroos snacked the role like snatching a mosquito from in front of his face. His ability to hold up the ball and distribute cleanly took center stage, and when Robben came back, Heynckes was at the mercy of Kroos' consistency. He was never the fastest player on the pitch, but his right foot on dead ball situations was a very good consolation. It got to the point that when he tore his adductor muscle in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League Quarterfinal against Juventus, people were asking how big of a blow it was. Robben became a replacement for Kroos, turning the tables from just a year ago. Kroos looks like the perfect Guardiola player, and his minutes are going to continue to trend upward.

Arjen Robben (Phillip)

Wow. Can words really describe the Champions League Final for Arjen Robben? For 88 minutes, he absolutely terrorized the Borussia Dortmund backline, but he continually came up short against Roman Weidenfeller. It was almost an exact replica of the previous year's final against Chelsea. Robben kept running into that "invisible" door, but he couldn't open it. However, in the 89th minute, when extra time seemed inevitable, Robben kicked the door completely off the hinges and scored the winner. He had struggled in last season's Champions League Final and Pokal Final, and he managed to make us forget all about them with a magical goal.

His playing time was drastically reduced at the start of the season as he recovered from his injury with Jupp Heynckes preferring an attacking front three of Franck Ribery, Toni Kroos, and Thomas Müller. However, Robben kept his head down and worked hard at both ends of the field to earn his playing time. This season saw a drastic improvement in Robben's tracking back to help out on defense. All in all, it's tough to say this past season was anything short of great for Arjen Robben. Bundesliga Winner. Pokal Winner. Champions League Winner. What more could a guy ask for?

It will be very interesting to see what happens to Robben next season with Mario Götze joining the treble winners. I don't see anyway that his playing time actually increases, do you?

Mitchell Weiser (Ryan)

The 19 year old winger was a new addition to the FC Bayern squad last summer after joining from FC Köln. Spending the first six months bouncing back and forth between the FC Bayern II and the bench of the senior team, Weiser is definitely a commodity for the future. After nine appearances and one goal with the reserve team, and four bench warming exercises with the senior team, Bayern sent Weiser on loan to second division FC Kaiserslautern during the winter break.

In the next six months, Weiser made thirteen appearances, including eleven starts, and two goals for the Die Roten Teufel helping them battle for and earn an appearance to the promotion play-off spot throughout the final half of the season. Given his performance on this loan assignment, I'd expect a similar assignment, or quite possibly a bump up to "teams expected to battle in the relegation spots in the Bundesliga" for next season. The winger is definitely one to keep our eyes on.

Xherdan Shaqiri (Scott)

Born in Yugoslavia to Albanian parents, raised in Kosovo and then Basel, the Swiss international's first season at Bayern was as good as could have reasonably been expected. Shaqiri tallied 8 goals in 38 appearances in all competitions, as well as 13 assists. Partially due to his effectiveness as a substitute, Shaq scored 7/9 goals after halftime in all competitions. With Robben, Ribery and Schweinsteiger, there weren't very many opportunities for Shaqiri to take free kicks, but that is a known strength of his, and one would expect him to take more in the future. Over the course of the season, he gained a reputation as a suitable substitute for Arjen Robben's speed and shooting prowess on the right wing when the Dutchman would go down with injury. Unlike Emre Can, I wouldn't expect Shaqiri to go out on loan immediately unless he doesn't fit into whatever formation Pep will use with the arrival of Mario Götze.

Franck Ribery (Ryan)

The world class Frenchmen has consistently been one of the better players in Europe for several seasons. With Jupp Heynckes at the helm, Ribery added an aggressive defensive element to his repertoire this year and become an even more complete player, and arguably probably one of the best individuals in Europe. His world class offensive skill was pivotal to Bayern's season, as he contributed 11 goals and a team leading 22 assists across all competitions, en route to securing them the treble and rightfully being named the Bundesliga player of the year.

The dramatic wing play that Bayern Munich exhibited during the season was so integral to their success, and Ribery's incredible skill and form this past season was the keystone in that dominance. With the winger set to turn only 31 shortly before the end of the next campaign, we can expect another hallmark season this time with the talented Pep Guardiola shoehorning the Frenchmen's performance.

Pierre Hojbjerg (Samrin)

This youngster came to light in Asia first when Bayern head there during the winter last year. He made an appearance against Schalke and almost scored. Hojbjerg was greatly appreciated by Jupp Heynckes throughout the season. Guardiola will perhaps give the young Dane more chances to impress come next season considering his talent. Hojbjerg has a bright future ahead; his future might not be with Bayern though however.

Thomas Müller (Davis)

What. A. Breakout. For a while, Müller was playing two different positions for two different teams. Last season he played centrally for most of the season and played on the right for Germany. In the treble season, his two roles merged in to one for the beginning part of the season, thriving on the right with the injury to Robben. Müller was one of only three players in the Bundesliga to have 13 goals and 11 assists (Ribery, Jakub Blaszczykowski were the other two). When Kroos went down to injury, he was not as effective in the attacking midfield role, but still was a threat that opposing teams had to deal with. Still at the tender age of 23, the paring between him and Mario Götze will be breathtaking to watch, not only for FC Bayern but also for the German National Team.

Forwards

Mario Mandzukic (Phillip)

You can't really put into context just how valuable Mario Mandzukic was to Bayern Munich throughout the 2012-13 season. With Mario Gomez missing a significant portion of the beginning of the season due to his injury, Mandzukic's ability to step right in and contribute was huge to get the club started on the right foot. His ability to track back and pressure defensively was important, and it showed up huge in the first leg of the Juventus tie in the Champions League. He harried Andrea Pirlo all over the pitch and never let the Italian maestro get comfortable on the ball.

The expectation has been building for a few months now that Mario Gomez will be departing Bayern this summer. With Mario Götze's arrival, it'll be interesting to see what kind of formation Pep Guardiola decides to play. The options are seemingly endless with one of the most stacked teams in the recent history of European football. Whatever Pep decides, expect Mandzukic to see significant time next year.

Claudio Pizarro (Samrin)

Moving for Pizarro was one of Bayern's smartest ideas in the transfer market. He already knew the club well in the first place and he was a proven scorer at the highest levels, having starred Bayern for a long period of time. Pizarro at his age was happy with the bench role. Whenever he was on the pitch, he produced. He scored three against Lille and later one against Juventus in the Champions League. He was excellent throughout the season; his four against Hamburg will be remembered by both sets of fans for a long time (for all the wrong reasons by the HSV fans of course). Pizarro is edging towards a contract extension. He has now won all he had to win in the game and will surely happily settle for one more year of fun under Guardiola. Guardiola likes team players; Pizarro is indeed a team player and one of the highest standards.

Mario Gomez (Scott)

In many ways, last season's Bayern left Gomez behind. The tactics the team employed made his typical contributions unnecessary, and as a result, once he returned from injury in November he had to win back the starting job from Mario Mandzukic. This isn't to say that Gomez wasn't effective, rather that his goals did not carry the same weight as they had in previous seasons because the team was already so far ahead of its competition so often. He was a substitute more than he was a starting player in 2012-2013, but still ended up with 19 goals in all competitions. He only got the starting nod in one important Champions League fixture, the 4-0 thrashing of Barcelona in Munich, but came on as a sub in most others. His most meaningful goals to the team came without question on the DFB-Pokal, as his hat-trick helped send FCB past Wolfsburg in the semifinal and his two goals were the difference against his old club, VfB Stuttgart, in the finale. If the Pokalfinale was indeed his final match at FC Bayern, he certainly went out with a bang. As for leaving the club, there have been rumors of a move to several Italian teams, several English and a few Spanish clubs and yet nothing is certain at the moment other than he wants to leave.

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