The new Bundesliga season is soon upon us! Opponents are ready to be vanquished, points are ready to be collected, and matches are there to be won.
The cusp of the Bundesliga season is a perfect time to look how Bayern Munich's squad shakes out. As per monthly tradition, Bavarian Football Works has put together a squad ranking of Bayern's key players. Each writer gives their 20– weighing factors such as form, fitness, tactical importance, and team sheet likelihood – and the subjectivity is collected in the aggregate.
Here is the first squad ranking of the season, a snapshot into how Bayern will build it's team sheet at the beginning of the season.
"–" = not ranked
Medhi Benatia (Ryan Cowper's Rank: 17 | Aggregate: 11) – Benatia represents yet another of the plethora of defensive riches on the Bayern Munich backline. However, in a side built around cross training and positional flexibility, Benatia's remarkably static. With other defensive options including Boateng, Rafinha, and Alaba capable of playing multiple positions across the field, Benatia just isn't as critical or vital to Bayern Munich right now given their other options. That could change in a hurry given Bayern's injury history in previous seasons though.
Dante (Phillip Quinn's Rank: 14 | Aggregate: 19) – Rankings at the beginning of the season are always going to be the most random. For now, Dante must rank fairly high to start the season, at least until Badstuber returns. Until then, I will keep the Brazilian in high regard since he is the club's third centerback. As much as we would love it to happen, Boateng and Benatia can't stay healthy and suspension-free all the time.
Thiago Alcântara (George Rudnik's Rank: 4 | Aggregate: 9) – Creativity is at a premium in Guardiola's system, especially when playing teams that stack their own half and their penalty box with defenders, hoping for points against the mighty Bundesliga giants by frustrating Bayern, and hitting them on the occasional counter. Even against the big teams, Bayern suffered last season when it lost most of their creative players like Robben and Ribéry, guys who can make something happen on their own, and open up space for others. In the middle, that man is Thiago, who is by far the most individually skilled central midfielder on the roster, and is a key piece to breaking down opposing defenses.
Douglas Costa (Davis VanOpdorp's Rank: 3 | Aggregate: 10) – Am I getting caught up in the moment? Perhaps, but it is not his preseason nor his scintillating set of skills that make him a crucial player. He is the only man since Ribéry who can widen the play on the left for Bayern, even though he is arguably a better player on the right. Xherdan Shaqiri couldn't do it. Mario Götze couldn't do it. Sir Douglas of Costa can, and until Ribéry comes back, the 24-year-old will be on the team sheet in almost every match.
He is a fresh 20-years-old and has only been a Bayern player for a month and a half, but Joshua Kimmich is already making a strong case he is ready to contribute right away. Several rankers have already put him ahead the likes of Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Sebastian Rode, two players biding their time until they get their chance. He is already the only one in the team that directly fills the role that Xabi Alonso plays, and it may not be too long until the Stuttgart academy product supplants the Spaniard in Guardiola's schemes.