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Bayern Munich: unappreciated defensive stalwarts

Bayern Munich are quietly posting their shots against numbers, and they may just be the best defense in Europe.

Alexander Hassenstein

It's been a somewhat frustrating start to the season for Bayern Munich. Their offense has looked anemic and devoid of ideas at times, while their new 3-3-3-1/3-4-3/forcing-fan-to-shred-their-hair formation has ranged from brilliant to downward awkward in the offensive phase of the game.

On the opposite side of the ball though, we've been highly critical of a lack of counterattacking awareness from Bayern Munich. Enough so to the point that I don't think I'm amiss in saying that unless Jerome Boateng is in the lineup, the vast majority of fans starting sweating bullets. However, at the same time we're being overcritical of a defense that is easily the very best in Europe. There's one number we need to keep in mind above all else.

The number 658.

It's the number of minutes since Bayern Munich last conceded a goal. That came in their 1-1 draw against Schalke 04 on the 30th of August. That was 44 days ago. Since then they have not allowed a single goal against. Their only other goal against came in their opening day 2-1 win over Wolfsburg on a wonderstrike from Ivica Olic (Oh, and they allowed a consolation penalty against Prußen Münster if you want to get technical).That's been it all season.

To put all of that another way - they are averaging a goal against every calendar month.

In that same vein, Bayern Munich allow 6.9 shots per game in the Bundesliga. That is lowest mark of any team in the domestic competitions of the top 4 European leagues.  If you also factor in the Champions League, they are pulling slightly over 7 shots per game and are bested only by Juventus.

Shots per game is the best indicator we have for long term with points accrued and Bayern Munich are top of the heap, not only in the Bundesliga but also in Europe. In the last two seasons, Bayern Munich ran away with the Bundesliga, earning them both in record time. Last season, they allowed 8.9 shots per game in both the Bundesliga and in the Champions League. Looking back a season before that, when they won the treble and where it's widely considered Bayern Munich were defensive masters - 8.2 shots per game in the Bundesliga and 9.4 in the Champions League.

What they're doing this season is not only just allowing an almost 2 full shots less per game then did in their two best seasons to date; they're doing it with immense roster churn, tactical and formation changes up and down lineup, and with a cast of players rotating in and out of positions every three days. This team is dynamic, tactically flexible, and they are defensively even more lock down then they have been in the past.

While it's still early in the season and these average are sure to go up - especially in the Champions League as we face stiffer competition - it's worth taking a step back and realizing that this might be the best Bayern Munich defense yet, despite all it's cosmetic flaws. That's something to be heralded rather then scorned.

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