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Hinrunde 2017: Bayern Munich player ratings

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How did the FC Bayern players perform individually? We take a look at all of them.

Photo by Christian Kolbert/Getty Images

As the Bundesliga settles into the doldrums of the winter break, there is nothing better to do apart from a little mid-season retrospective. Since this is like the halfway point of the season, an end-of-term report is in order, no? Simple A, B, C grades will do, and since literally every player improved his game after Jupp’s hire, I’ve taken the liberty of labeling that as “Extra Credit”. Here we go ...

PART 1: The Goalkeepers

Manuel Neuer

Initial Grade: N/A
Grade after extra credit: N/A
Goals Conceded: 2
Clean Sheets: 3
Strengths: Passing, playing under pressure, shot stopping
Weaknesses: N/A

Comments: Manuel Neuer misses out on a proper grade due to a lack of consistent playing time. We can only hope he gets better by the time the Champions League knockouts roll around because Bayern Munich will need its captain.

Sven Ulreich

Initial Grade: F
Grade after extra credit: A+
Goals Conceded: 19
Clean Sheets: 8
Strengths: Penalty shootouts, penalties in general, mind games
Weaknesses: Confidence, composure in front of goal

Comments: If there is an award for “most improved player of the season”, then Sven Ulreich surely has to win it. A walking disaster under Carlo Ancelotti, #SvenTheWall showed incredible resilience and mental fortitude to work his way back into form. One of the many players to be rejuvenated under Jupp Heynckes’ new reign, the 30 year old goalie has saved Bayern numerous times in the recent past - most notably in penalty shootouts against Leipzig and Dortmund, plus stopping a game saving penalty against Stuttgart. They don’t call him the “penalty killer” for nothing.

PART 2: The Defenders

David Alaba

Initial Grade: D
Grade after extra credit: B+
Goals scored: 1
Assists: 2
Strengths: Passing, crossing, dribbling, attacking contribution, free kicks
Weaknesses: Defending

Comments: Alaba had a horrid time to start of the season, flopping badly under Carlo Ancelotti’s continued dysfunctional reign. When Jupp Heynckes came back, the young Austrian experienced an immediate resurgence of his form. While not quite as dominant as he once was, one can see glimpses of the old Alaba returning from an 18-month long hiatus.

Juan Bernat

Initial Grade: N/A
Grade after extra credit: N/A
Goals scored: 0
Assists: 0
Strengths: Hustle, work rate, dribbling
Weaknesses: N/A

Comments: A preseason injury kept Juan Bernat out of the action for most of the Hinrunde. Hopefully he will make a strong recovery in the second half of the season.

Mats Hummels

Initial Grade: A+
Grade after extra credit: A+
Goals scored: 3
Assists: 1
Strengths: Passing, playing under pressure, clutch tackling, interceptions, set pieces
Weaknesses: None apparent

Comments: This is perhaps the year that Mats Hummels makes a legitimate claim to being “The Best Center Back in the World”(TM). As far as the overall quality of play is concerned, Bayern fans can have no complaints about the world cup winning center back, who has been absolutely impeccable in front of the penalty box.

Jerome Boateng

Initial Grade: C
Grade after extra credit: B+
Goals scored: 1
Assists: 3
Strengths: Passing, long balls, anticipation, interceptions
Weaknesses: Maintaining concentration for 90 minutes, set pieces

Celtic FC v Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Comments: Jerome Boateng had a much tougher time in 2017 than his counterpart Hummels. Beset by muscle injuries, the defender struggled to gain back his rhythm and world class form. Near the end of the Hinrunde Boateng seemed to have sorted his health out, and his performances improved. Bayern fans will hope that the German stalwart continues on his road to recovery.

Niklas Sule

Initial Grade: A-
Grade after extra credit: A
Goals scored: 1
Assists: 2
Strengths: Pace, calmness under pressure, set piece defending
Weaknesses: None apparent

Comments: What a year it has been for Niklas Sule. In his first season at Bayern Munich, the former Hoffenheim lad has managed to make a heavy impact on the pitch, chalking up over 1,500 minutes across all competitions despite Bayern’s star-studded squad. Arguably his only bad game came against PSG, where Carlo Ancelotti hung all his players out to dry. Apart from that, Sule has put in solid performances whenever he has been called upon.

Joshua Kimmich

Initial Grade: A+
Grade after extra credit: A+
Goals scored: 3
Assists: 10
Strengths: Passing, crossing, creating scoring chances, overlapping and linkup play, set pieces
Weaknesses: Defending 1v1 against pacey players

Comments: An absolute engine of creativity, Joshua Kimmich has emerged onto the scene as one of Europe’s brightest young fullbacks. Taking over the mantle of former captain Philipp Lahm, the youngster has been Bayern’s most consistent performer this season, rarely (if ever) putting in a bad game. Bayern and Germany may have found its true Lahm successor.

Rafinha

Initial Grade: B
Grade after extra credit: B+
Goals scored: 0
Assists: 1
Strengths: Hustle, defending, versatility
Weaknesses: Attacking contribution

Comments: Bayern Munich’s stalwart backup Rafinha found himself deployed in unfamiliar territory for large parts of the season, serving as emergency left back due to injuries to David Alaba and Juan Bernat. The Brazilian performed admirably, keeping things tight at the back but coming up short on the offensive front. Not bad for a 32 year old.

PART 3: The Midfielders

Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

Sebastian Rudy

Initial Grade: B+
Grade after extra credit: B+
Goals scored: 0
Assists: 1
Strengths: Passing, recycling possession, indirect free kicks
Weaknesses: None apparent

Comments: Many people were skeptical when Bayern bought Sebastian Rudy from Hoffenheim. However, halfway through the season, Rudy has proven most (if not all) of his doubters wrong with solid performances in midfield. Not the sort of player to do spectacular things, Rudy is a quiet workhorse that keeps the Bavarian midfield ticking. For a free transfer, the player looks to be a steal.

RSC Anderlecht v Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Corentin Tolisso

Initial Grade: A-
Grade after extra credit: A-
Goals scored: 5
Assists: 4
Strengths: Scoring contribution
Weaknesses: Consistency

Comments: Bayern Munich’s new record transfer had an enigmatic first half. Coming in from Ligue 1, Corentin Tolisso seemed to adjust quickly to the pace of the Bundesliga, getting into his groove and putting in exemplary performances in Carlo Ancelotti’s three man midfield. As the season wore on however, the Frenchman’s performances grew increasingly erratic, perhaps due to unfamiliarity with Jupp Heynckes’ 4-2-3-1. The youngster has quality, but he still has a long way to go.

Thiago Alcantara

Initial Grade: B+
Grade after extra credit: A-
Goals scored: 3
Assists: 0
Strengths: Recycling possession, blocks, tackles, interceptions, passing
Weaknesses: Set piece deliveries (oh boy)

Comments: One of the few players to excel under Carlo Ancelotti, Thiago had a slow start to the season but got into the groove of things as it wore on. A muscle injury cut his Hinrunde short, and Jupp Heynckes will hope that the Spaniard will be fit for the key games in the Ruckrunde.

Arturo Vidal

Initial Grade: A
Grade after extra credit: A+
Goals scored: 5
Assists: 2
Strengths: Tackling, physicality, work rate, scoring contribution
Weaknesses: Committing fouls

Comments: There’s very little to be said about the Chilean that isn’t readily obvious. Arturo Vidal has been Bayern’s engine in midfield for the third year running, and his performances have been crucial to the success of the Bavarians. Barring a slight dip in form in October, the warrior has been at his lethal best for most of the Hinrunde.

James Rodriguez

Initial Grade: A-
Grade after extra credit: A
Goals scored: 2
Assists: 4
Strengths: Creativity, passing, recycling possession, set piece deliveries
Weaknesses: Stamina

Comments: James Rodriguez is a man whose performances have been tough to grade. The newcomer from Real Madrid has definitely had an impact on Bayern’s squad, settling in and dictating play - a style reminiscent of Toni Kroos from back in the treble year. The goals and assists haven’t come in yet, but there’s no denying how good James has been. The Colombian seems to be adjusting nicely to his new surroundings, and should be ready for a strong Ruckrunde in 2018.

Javi Martinez

Initial Grade: C
Grade after extra credit: A
Goals scored: 1
Assists: 1
Strengths: Playing in defensive midfield
Weaknesses: Playing at center back

Comments: The fourth coming of Jupp has been a godsend for Javi Martinez, who has been struggling at the center back position for some time now. Restored to defensive midfield, the Basque midfielder has gone back to his imperious best - putting in performances that are reminiscent of the “Ball Magnet” from the treble year.

Part 4: The Forwards

Kingsley Coman

Initial Grade: C
Grade after extra credit: A
Goals scored: 4
Assists: 7
Strengths: Pace, dribbling, crossing
Weaknesses: Decision making, final ball

Comments: Bayern’s pacey Frenchman had a difficult start to the 2017-18 season. With off pitch troubles and problems with coach Carlo Ancelotti, it seemed that Coman’s development into a world class player had stalled permanently. Enter Jupp, and the king has undergone a wonderful transformation. Under the old man’s guidance, Coman has blossomed into a deadly inverted winger, looking more and more like the talent we saw in his first season under Pep Guardiola. He had numerous injury problems in the Hinrunde - if he recovers from those then the Ruckrunde could be a nightmare for opposition defenders.

Franck Ribery

Initial Grade: D
Grade after extra credit: C-
Goals scored: 1
Assists: 1
Strengths: Partnership with David Alaba, defensive contribution
Weaknesses: Dribbling, lack of pace

Comments: I think it’s time - Franck Ribery has reached the end of the road. Despite sustaining a knee ligament injury, there can be no excuses for the Frenchman’s collapse in form. Defenders are no longer scared of King Franck - his dribbles usually fail, and he gets dispossessed regularly. Ribery has lost a step, and likely lost his starting spot to Coman as well.

Thomas Muller

Initial Grade: B-
Grade after extra credit: A-
Goals scored: 4
Assists: 6
Strengths: Finding key passes, finishing, raumdeutering
Weaknesses: A lack of confidence

Comments: Since Jupp Heynckes came back, Thomas Muller has looked more and more like the man we knew. Bayern’s de facto captain in Neuer’s absence - Muller has slowly regained the confidence and form he lost under Ancelotti, scoring in both of his most recent games. If not for an unfortunate muscle injury against Hamburg, he surely would’ve had many more.

Arjen Robben

Initial Grade: B
Grade after extra credit: B+
Goals scored: 3
Assists: 4
Strengths: Shooting, finishing
Weaknesses: Dribbling, lack of pace

Comments: Like Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben has suffered a sharp decline this season. His dribbling statistics are way down, and not having Philipp Lahm behind him has hurt his output. However, despite not being the utter monster he used to be, defenses are still troubled by the Dutchman's incredible left foot. Robben still has a claim to a starting position on the squad.

Robert Lewandowski

Initial Grade: A
Grade after extra credit: A
Goals scored: 21
Assists: 2
Strengths: Finishing, holdup play, linkup play, partnership with Thomas Muller
Weaknesses: Wastefulness in front of goal

Comments: Aside from Mats Hummels and Joshua Kimmich, Robert Lewandowski has perhaps been the most consistent performer on the Bayern team. Good for basically one goal or assist per 90 minutes, Bayern’s Polish hit-man has been a regular fixture on the scoring sheets. A lack of rest and problems with his patella (the knee cap) likely prevented Lewandowski from scoring even more, but he should be back to his mercurial best by the time Champions League knockouts roll around.