clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Final thoughts on Bayern’s final match of 2016-17

New, comments

Bayern’s final match encapsulated several of the themes of the season.

Bayern Muenchen v SC Freiburg - Bundesliga Photo by Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images for MAN

Which Boateng will be back next year?

Ten minutes into a welcome start after a year marred by persistent injury, Jerome Boateng limped off the field yet again and into the offseason. After suffering a muscle injury at Euro 2016, a shoulder injury that required operation sidelined him for most of the season. Boateng played in just 21 of 50 games this year, and 11 for all 90 minutes.

Is this the beginning of the end, or will Boateng return to strength and his starting spot as the leader of Bayern’s back line? He will face stiff competition for a starting spot alongside Mats Hummels with the arrival of Niklas Süle. Javi Martinez has also shown he is capable of performing at an elite level. Injuries may well make the decision for Carlo Ancelotti, but Boateng will need far better luck than he had this season to reassert his place.

Arjen Robben refuses to fade

What a match today by Arjen Robben. The numbers are simply incredible: 11 shots, 5 dribbles, one goal, two assists, one shot off the crossbar. Robben showed unearthly form, from his game-opening goal to his assist to his long-time partner Franck Ribery in the dying minutes of the game. And this isn’t the season opener, but a full 90 minutes at the end of a grueling season. It seems safe to assume Robben is not going anywhere. But how long can he and Ribery fend off father time?

The future of Bayern’s offense is torn in two directions. Why would any manager bench this Robben for anyone, let alone a frustratingly ineffective Douglas Costa? But everyone knows that the day is coming when Bayern’s aging wingers will decline. Ribery, used sparingly toward the end of the season, may go sooner. Can Kingsley Coman make the leap to the starting XI or Douglas Costa find his form, or will a big signing push them back on the bench? Uli Hoeness has promised a decision on the direction of the club soon, balancing age and youth. Painful decisions lie ahead.

Midfield mysteries

Xabi Alonso ended his career in style, with an assist, 5 key passes, and 92% pass completion. He might have been slow, but he was incredibly effective. Will Sebastian Rudy take up the mantle and give Carlo Ancelotti a comparably reliable defensive midfielder with a winger’s speed? Bayern’s midfield is practically bursting at the seams with world-class talent in Thiago, Vidal, and even Sanches.

But what if Bayern sign Leon Goretzka or someone like him? It is hard to find the rationale behind the interest Bayern have shown, but that interest is very real. Is it fear that Sanches may ultimately fail? Interest in a third option behind Thiago and Vidal? Schalke will not compete internationally next season, so the incentive to leave for an ambitious young player may be great, but, instead of starting, Goretzka would be competing with Thiago and Müller for minutes. Is that the point?

Who is Bayern Munich?

With the retirement of Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger plying his trade in Chicago, Bayern Munich is running out of Bavarians. Mats Hummels and Thomas Müller are left - and Hummels does not have quite the same caché - at least not yet - having played for Dortmund so long. Is that enough for this club?

With the departure of Lahm and Robben and Ribery aging, the identity of the club is also increasingly uncertain. We have gone from “Koan Neuer” to Captain Neuer. A mixed season by Thomas Müller adds to that uncertainty. Will he be “important again,” as he has said he hopes? Today, Müller managed 4 shots and 5 key passes (passes leading to a shot on goal). He has shown he can contribute to offense, but is this indirect role enough? Would a packed midfield next season crowd him out of the lineup (again)? Would Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness let that happen? More is at stake than a simple player decision.