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Badstuber Down and Out; Winter Replacement Likely? (with Poll)

Short answer: probably not.

Lennart Preiss

In the latest chapter of one the world's best rivalries, FC Bayern and Borussia Dortmund fought to an entertaining draw. Despite a few mistakes, Bayern probably played better throughout (more possession, several good chances in the closing minutes), and the recent streak of poor play vs. BVB has been vanquished. But there was some bad news for FC Bayern as well: defender Holger Badstuber went down with a knee injury, which was later confirmed to be a torn ACL.

It will be some time before a definite timetable on Badstuber's return is given; he may have to wait a couple weeks before he even has the surgery. But for the rest of this season (at least), he's probably not going be available. Our remaining CB pairing would therefore be some combination of the following: Dante, Jerome Boateng, Daniel van Buyten, Anatoliy Tymoschuk, and Javi Martinez.

There's certainly no urgent need to go get someone. Dante and Boateng have played well together before. van Buyten has looked solid this year (in limited action). And Tymoschuk played well at CB last year when he had to, especially in the Champions League final. I guess the argument for getting someone new would be (a) we're going to need depth, playing in 3 tough competitions, (b) Tymoschuk is more naturally a CDM, and van Buyten can get beaten by quick-footed forwards, and (c) another injury could leave us in a catastrophic position.

Here are the possible courses of action, as I see them:

(1) Go with a short-term replacement who isn't cup-tied

Meaning someone who's team isn't playing in the Champions League. My understanding is that even a match in the last qualifying round would render someone ineligible to play for us in the CL. So we'd have to find someone who's experienced, can mark good strikers and clear dangerous balls, has played in big games before, but somehow doesn't play on one of Europe's good teams. Inter Milan, Spurs, Liverpool, Sporting Lisboa, Atletico Madrid, Hamburg, and similar teams would be the rosters we'd be looking to raid.

Someone mentioned Daniel Agger earlier; I haven't seen much of him, but supposedly he's a solid defender. Would he be better than Dante or Boateng? Probably not. But would he be better than DvB, and therefore give us an upgrade at 3rd CB? Possibly. Hmmm ...

(2) Go for a short-term replacement and ignore the fact that they're cup-tied

We could also pick someone up that HAS been playing in the CL, and understand that they couldn't help us there. The idea would be, we could use Dante and Boateng in every CL match, and mix and match in domestic play (with both of those 2 playing sometimes, but a heavy dose of van Buyten and New Guy X to keep Dante and Boateng fresh). If we're willing to expand into the realm of guys who ARE on CL teams, the options open up. Felipe Santana would probably be high on the list.

This is unlikely, because you'd have to find someone who isn't being used (because why would someone who's playing CL ball want to come here and NOT play CL ball?). And if someone isn't being used elsewhere, there's probably a reason for that. But I figured it was worth pointing out this possibility.

(3) Start shopping for a long-term solution

There's certainly no rush to bring in the CB of the future. Badstuber will probably be back to full strength by next fall, and we appear to be pretty solid here once he returns. Nonetheless, Dante is currently 29, and has been playing in Europe for a decade. I guess if we were going to look for a long-term CB project who's currently a teenager next year, maybe we could start a year early, and blood him while he's still young.

This is also pretty unlikely, I'm just trying to get all of our options on paper. Note that I would include pulling someone up from Bayern II under this option.

(4) Stick

Even with Badstuber gone, we're not embarrassingly short on the back line. We certainly have enough guys who can play here; the dangers are whether we have enough who can play at a high level, and what to do if someone else gets injured. The argument for sticking with what we have would be: our 2 starters are still excellent, our backups are pretty damn decent, bringing in someone new would require working in a new personality into the locker room, with no guarantee he'd even be any better than who we have.

I guess the concern is whether we get MORE injuries. If (for instance) Dante went down now, we'd be in some serious trouble. Keep in mind also that accumulated yellows can cause suspensions in both the CL and the Bundesliga. But aside from that, it's unclear who's out there that would be a big upgrade. In the absence of an obvious move, I think the board will be inclined to go to war with who we have.

Anyway, as you can see, there's a poll. Let us know what you think. Thanks for reading.

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