Niko Kovac could be set to make a handful of changes to the starting eleven that he fielded against Ajax in the Champions League as Bayern Munich look to shake their rut against Borussia Monchengladbach in the league. Having taken just two points from their last three outings across all competitions, question marks have arisen over some of the tactical decisions Kovac has made and the personnel he’s chosen to start each respective match.
With the congested fixtures list, he was forced to make several rotations between the matches against Augsburg, Hertha Berlin, and Ajax, but the lackluster nature of the three performances suggests that something just wasn’t right. In Bayern’s main training session on Thursday afternoon, Kovac was seen exchanging conversation with Thomas Muller for approximately 13 minutes in private after the rest of the team headed back to the cabin (per Bild). The exchange between the two raises the question of whether Kovac will bench Muller for the M’Gladbach match, and if so, who else will get relegated to the bench, too.
Time for “Thiagoretzka” again?
In the second league match of the season against VfB Stuttgart, Bayern utterly dominated the midfield en route to a 3-0 victory over the Swabians. In that match, Kovac deployed both Thiago Alcantara and Leon Goretzka in the center of midfield with Muller, Franck Ribery, and Arjen Robben just ahead of them.
Under the assumption that Muller is dropped for the M’Gladbach match, James Rodriguez could start in the central attacking midfield role just ahead of Thiago and Goretzka, with Robben, Ribery, or Serge Gnabry on either side of him. Javi Martinez, in addition to Muller, was one of the weaker performers during the Ajax match and would be the other midfielder sacrificed to accommodate the “Thiagoretzka” setup that worked so well in the past.
Hummels, Boateng, and Sule...
There are also questions surrounding Bayern’s back line. Jerome Boateng has one of his poorer performances vs. Ajax, but at the same time, Mats Hummels sustained a couple of knocks to his head and had to train by himself on Thursday — he was restricted to some light paces on the exercise bike while the rest of the team trained. With Hummels’s fitness uncertain for the weekend clash against M’Gladbach, Kovac could be forced to start Boateng alongside Niklas Sule, although Sule and Hummels might be the better option moving forward. Sule and Hummels together boast more pace than Boateng and Hummels, which was one of the things the latter pair really struggled to cope with against Ajax.