The Winterpause had come at the perfect time for FC Bayern, and it seemed as if the medical issues were finally coming to an end for a squad that had been plagued by injury for much of Pep Guardiola's tenure. When Jérôme Boateng motioned to the sideline for a substitution in Friday night's match against Hamburger SV, however, Bayern Munich fans around the world collectively held their breath. Unfortunately, the injury was severe, and the subsequent news that the defensive rock of Bayern Munich's back line could be out until early May came at the worst possible time.
Boateng is an indispensable first-team player who has established himself as one of the top players in his position in world football. Until now, the stalwart defender has never been sidelined by injury for more than ten days since his arrival in 2011, and, in a scenario all too familiar for Bayern Munich fans, it appears at present that the club will be challenging for three trophies without an essential position player. As a result, Bayern's options for natural center backs have been reduced to the excessively injury-prone trio of Holger Badstuber, Medhi Benatia, and Javi Martinez. With the Bundesliga back in full swing and the first leg of the Champions League draw against Juventus looming on the horizon, we find ourselves once again asking the age-old question: does the club need to invest in the January window to successfully challenge for all three trophies?
Bayern Munich Should Not Sign a Defender This Month
Bayern Munich has demonstrated a unique ability to adapt under Pep Guardiola. Although losing Boateng is a major blow, there are other options and the squad is talented enough to make them work. Pep's strategy of playing with three at the back in a pliable formation has become the norm, and if the tactical requirement is only one central defender, a steady rotation of Badstuber, Martinez, and Benatia could suffice. Furthermore, there is always the option of Juan Bernat returning to a regular starting role once he is fully fit and David Alaba moving over to cover the middle, even if this is not his preferred position. Finally, Xabi Alonso has dropped back to act as a central defender in certain instances earlier this season, and he could do so again as a last resort.
Three center back options should be more than enough considering the adaptability of the formation and the squad. It also must be considered that any players talented enough to play in the Bayern Munich defense for critical Champions League games are most likely cup-tied as well. Moreover, there would hardly be room for five center backs once Boateng returns, provided that none depart over the summer.
Bayern Munich Should Sign a Defender This Month
The argument for signing a new defender this January is simple: the injury histories of the current defenders suggest that Bayern would be taking a too great a risk by not investing. Since joining the club in 2012, Martinez has been injured for a total of 409 days, resulting in 80 games missed. Meanwhile, Benatia has missed 174 days and 25 games since joining just last season. Badstuber, who has been with the club the longest of the three, has missed a staggering 930 days and 190 games through injury since his debut in 2009. Another extended layoff would be devastating for the team when the fixtures are coming hard and fast, especially if Boateng is not expected to return until May. Injury issues have devastated the squad in previous years, particularly late in the season, and Pep would be risking further injury without having enough defenders to rotate. Bayern would be wise to avoid this issue by spending in January to patch up the glaring Boateng-sized hole that appeared Friday night.
Let's cut to the chase. The question on everyone's mind is whether or not Bayern Munich can win the coveted Champions League trophy before Pep Guardiola leaves. There is no question that Boateng's injury has come at the worst possible time. Can the squad adapt enough to the injury to avoid the shortcomings of past seasons, or does another player need to join that squad (perhaps one handpicked by Carlo Ancelotti?) in order to provide backup for the rickety legs of Benatia, Badstuber, and Martinez? Vote in the poll below, and let your opinion be known in the comments section.