clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Three things Niko Kovac needs to change after the break

As pressure mounts on Niko Kovac, it is imperative that he makes significant changes when the regular season results after the international break.

Bayern Muenchen Training And Press Conference - UEFA Champions League Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images

Do you want to know how bad Bayern have been recently?

For the first time since 2015, they’ve lost two Bundesliga games in a row. If you want to find out the last time this happened in the first half of a season, you have to go back to November 2011. Top all of this off with the fact that Bayern has faced their longest Bundesliga goal drought since 2014.

Thank God the international break is upon us. So, with the doomsday clock already ticking, these are three things Bayern need to do over the international break.

1) Find a Consistent Lineup

Looking at Bayern’s form over the last five games shows W-D-L-D-L. Not once over this stretch of games has Kovac played the same lineup.

Let’s look first at the back line for each of these games:

Schalke: Alaba-Hummels-Sule-Kimmich

Augsburg: Goretzka (?!?)-Hummels-Sule-Kimmich

Hertha: Alaba-Sule-Boateng-Kimmich

Ajax: Alaba-Hummels-Boateng-Kimmich

BMG: Alaba-Hummels-Sule-Kimmich

Putting Gnabry at left back may have been one of the most mind-shattering choices I’ve seen in a while. But even setting that aside, some deep dives need to be taken place. There have been only three substitutions from the defense at all over the last five games. One was to replace Gnabry, one was in the 90th minute, and the other was to replace an injured Alaba. Even when the defense was struggling against Augsburg and Hertha, neither of the two center-backs was replaced. Now that David Alaba’s status is also up in the air, this is the best time for the defense to be solid.

Moving to the midfield, a similar theme can be seen. Over the last five games, the lineup in the midfield shows, reading from left to right:

Schalke: Goretzka-Thiago (our MOTM)-James

Augsburg: Sanches-Martinez-Goretzka

Hertha: Sanches-Thiago-James

Ajax: Thiago-Martinez-Muller

BMG: Goretzka-Thiago-Muller

I think I speak for most people when I say that Javi Martinez should not be getting playing time in the midfield (if at all). Over five games, Goretzka has played everything but his natural position, our best distributor was put on the wings, and we decided to start effectively a back-up center-back in the middle of the field during a Champions League game.

I’m all for rotating players out if they need a break, but I’m also in the camp of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It seems like there is too much squad rotation going on, and it’s getting confusing, especially when we don’t stick to the same formation.

2) Stick to one formation, please

Over five games, we’ve seen different lineups, but almost each time the formation looks different too, sometimes changing mid-game. This has changed so much, that not even the post-match reports can decide what they looked like. I usually use ESPN and FotMob to look at post-match reports, and over five games, neither site can agree on what lineup was used.

Bayern’s Lineups from 9/22-10/6

Game ESPN FotMob
Game ESPN FotMob
Schalke 4-1-4-1 4-3-3
Augsburg 4-3-3 4-1-2-3
Hertha 4-1-4-1 4-3-3
Ajax 4-2-3-1 4-3-3
BMG 4-1-4-1 4-3-3
Bayern Lineups 9/22-10/6 ESPN and FotMob

Regardless of which site you prefer, it’s clear that there has been variation. And the fact is that it hasn’t produced a positive change. Bayern haven’t won a game in October and the rotating lineup and formations probably have not helped.

3) Can we get some new tactics please?

I know this isn’t going to happen, because Bayern have been playing the same boring possession-based offense for years, despite having younger, more dynamic players like James and Gnabry to help the Robbens and Mullers of the team. It seems that Bayern’s tactical brilliance only comes out in short bursts. The first 20 minutes of the Ajax game were beautiful, and then an allowed goal brought it to a screeching halt for the remainder of the game. Today, Bayern were slow and boring again until the final 20 minutes when they finally applied pressure. When Bayern are hot, they can burn teams, but only when someone decides to finally turn on the gas. BFW’s own Ryan Cowper said in his observations piece, “It’s not hard to see where Bayern needs to go from here: the pieces are all in place, the players they need are there...For some reason, Kovac can’t get out of his own way to solve the tactical puzzle.”

All of these are simple fixes that need to be solved. And, they will be solved. Things take time under a new manager, and Bayern will get out of this rut. Everything’s gonna be okay.

But thank God for the international break.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Bavarian Football Works Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Bayern Munich news from Bavarian Football Works