Over recent years, Bayern Munich has experienced some very significant injury misfortune, some that has forced them to rethink the way their squad is put together. They may have hit a new low now that their Boateng has hit an ice berg.
Jérôme Boateng is confident he will be ready for the Euros, but that is not much consolation for a Bayern team presently battling on three fronts. An April return could be a huge lift to the squad, but with Juventus on the docket in the Round of 16 of the Champions League, some of Bayern's season aspirations could already be taken from them.
What Bayern does without Boateng is pretty clear: use the players in the squad to supplement their titanic loss. There are some harsh realities the club faces though, and they are ones they are going to have to accept rather than solve.
No viable outside replacement
The easiest way for a club to address depth issues? Go to the market and buy one. A quick solution is something Bayern could afford, but something they have not done in five years. The transfer market is only half stalked in January though, and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge admitted that himself this week. "We have seriously argued about this topic. I have to tell you, there are no good players on the market," he told the German press association. "No club buys their best players in the Winter, especially at this position.
A top defender probably plays in the Champions League, which means he is cup tied. A top defender not playing in the Champions League is probably playing for a club vying for the Champions League, a club not willing to give up their best pieces for less than a king's ransom. A top defender playing for a club not vying for European competition probably will also be expensive and/or be a young player who would prefer the playing time. If Bayern are going to address their "depth issue" it would have to be in the summer, by which time they may have four healthy center backs once more.
Relying on the injury prone
The cruel irony of Boateng's injury? The fact he was Bayern's healthiest defender since he joined from Manchester City four seasons ago. His growth and consistency stemmed from his selection, one that occurred constantly under Jupp Heynckes and Pep Guardiola. The foundation of Bayern's defense was him and Manuel Neuer, and now one of those boulders has finally cracked.
With him gone, Bayern have three central defenders who have suffered serious injuries very recently. One of them, Medhi Benatia, is still not healthy, and another – Holger Badstuber – has yet to remain healthy for more than three months. Since reinforcements are unlikely to come from outside the club, Bayern are going to have three center backs they have to use, sometimes when they are not fully fit.
Someone playing out of position
To proactively solve a defensive depth issue, Guardiola has already fielded players out of position to understand their defensive attributes. Those attributes are what Bayern have to rely on now as players such as David Alaba, Xabi Alonso, and Rafinha play out of position too fill the gap. Due to their past experiences, all three could pass as center backs, even though they were to trained as such.
The issue becomes not when Bayern play in the Bundesliga, but when they take their talents abroad. Teams like Barcelona, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid all have very unique attacks, and the only player that seemed to matchup well against all those clubs was Boateng. Would Guardiola feel comfortable playing an Alaba or an Alonso at center back when the chips are down? What he is most comfortable with may not necessarily apply in his decision.