After this final international break of 2015, Bayern Munich will head into the final stretch of the Hinrunde. Some Bundesliga opponents – namely Schalke 04 a Borussia Mönchengladbach – could be difficult road tests, and Bayern will want to finish out their Champions League group stage campaign with a group victory. Pep Guardiola could have a deeper Bayern squad to play with before the winter break, and Bavarian Football Works sorted through it all over the international break.
For those who have seen the squad rankings before, you know the drill: each ranker picks 20 players to rank in order based on the criteria he sees fit. The aggregate rank is designed to take some of the objectivity out of it, and provide a pecking order to Bayern’s squad. This ranking is designed to show where we think each player’s role stacks up in the squad, and may be an indicator of how Guardiola picks his team in the near and distant future.
Without further ado, here is the November squad ranking for Bayern Munich.
= rank increase
= rank decrease
"–" = not ranked
If a casual fan were to watch Bayern’s match against Arsenal before in the Allianz Arena, he or she would probably not guess Coman was the player on loan or, for that matter, the teenager in the squad. His development has progressed much faster than probably many at Bayern expected, and he is a player that is hard to take out of the squad due to the balance he can provide to Bayern. The €21 million buy option Bayern have looks more and more affordable with every minute he plays, and France coach Didier Deschamps will be hard pressed not to include him in France’s squad for the 2016 Euros.
Vidal has not been atrocious by any stretch of the imagination, but he is not playing at peak Vidal caliber either. Lest we all forget: He did not have much of a preseason after winning the 2015 Copa America with Chile, and his fitness level does not look high enough to rely on him in midfield. Vidal has not really had to contribute at a high level with Xabi Alonso and Thiago on the field. Thiago is now hurt, so Vidal may have to buck up sooner rather than later to keep Bayern’s Hinrunde form at a high level.
Javi Martínez (NoVaBurgher’s Rank: 15 | Aggregate: 12) – When making these rankings it's important to factor in a few things. Previous performance, actual performance (in this month) and projected performance. Javi has certainly come through big for Bayern in the past, but injuries has hampered his contributions recently and with the addition of Medhi Benatia and the return of Holger Badstuber, his position and his role is somewhat in question. This is why I am not as bullish on Javi going forward, but knowing him, he'll probably prove me wrong
Rafinha (Quinn’s Rank: 11 | Aggregate: 14) – The only person that's willing to boost Rafinha more than me is his family. Bayern Munich is lucky to have him, and it's his fiery-yet-jovial personality that makes him such a great player to have around the club. This is likely the last time that we see him ranked this high, as there's a list of players (I count 7.) that could pass him by the next rankings come out. Until then, however, Rafinha gets a thumbs up from me.
Thiago Alcântara (Rudnik’s Rank: 18 | Aggregate: 7) – Very simply, because he's injured (again...sigh), and likely won't be available to the team until after the winter break. Considering that Bayern are already all but qualified for the knockout stages in the Champions League and hold a comfortable lead in the Bundesliga, they should be able to handle Thiago's absence easily. Will it cause Pep to have to restructure his midfield? Absolutely, but with Robben's recent return, and Coman's ability to man the left flank, there's a good chance Guardiola will plug Costa into the middle – as he's done before – to keep that creative skill present in the middle of the attack, and the team will just keep on trucking.
Kingsley Coman (VanOpdorp’s Rank: 14 | Aggregate: 10) – No question he is a bright young talent and Bayern clearly knew what they were doing when they brought him in from Juventus. Guardiola is eventually going to get his depth back though – unless the injury gods smite the club again – and when it does come back, Coman will be a bench player. I hope he continues to progress at this accelerated rate, especially with Ribéry’s contract expiring at the end of next season. However, trying to pile on the Coman bandwagon at this stage of the season is premature in my eyes.
Now that Holger Badstuber is healthy (knock on wood, salt over the shoulder, spin around three times counterclockwise), his usage pattern will be interesting to watch. After all, he is the only left-footed center back Bayern have, and he has always been astute enough to play however his manager wants him to play. Guardiola could have four healthy center backs at Bayern for the first time since early 2014, and there are no previous indicators of how he is intending to use them. If Badstuber can exploit a certain matchup consistently, he could quickly become more indispensable.