Bayern Munich’s forward group has been downright excellent at times and stiflingly absent at others. Overall, though, the first half was a pretty formidable showing for the group. Powered by Robert Lewandowski, the group has combined for 44 goals and 21 assists in the team’s first 26 games.
But Lewandowski has not been the team’s only weapon. Thomas Muller, who has been dogged in some forums, but has had a very effective season to date in creating offense and helping the squad be in positions to succeed. The winger group of Serge Gnabry, Kingsley, Coman, Arjen Robben, and Franck Ribery has had an up-and-down first half as a group, but has seen some terrific individual efforts that have propelled the unit.
In an effort to “grade” or “rate” the players individually, a number of factors were considered including statistics, performance, injuries, and consistency. In this series, each author is also using his or her personal “eye test” to assess the players and their performance over the first half.
Robert Lewandowski: A
The Polish Hitman has been spectacular in racking up 22 goals and five assists in all competitions. While many were critical of Lewandowski’s focus prior to the season, the striker now leads all of Europe in goal scoring. Lewandowski’s relatively slow start in the Bundesliga was eclipsed by his torrid play in the Champions League and excellent finish in the league. As many important games loom on the horizon, Lewandowski will have even more chances to earn that time in the spotlight that he desires.
Thomas Muller: B+
Muller has been one of the players whose value often isn’t best characterized by merely looking at statistics alone. Muller has five goals and six assists across competitions, but has been spectacular at exploiting the space in the opposing defenses while also being the catalyst for many goals where he was not credited with an assist. The partnership between Muller and Lewandowski is one of the primary reasons why the Bayern offense regained its form after its slump from late September into October.
Serge Gnabry: B
When Bayern needed a boost to ignite the offense, Gnabry was there to provide the spark. The 23-year old is still a work in progress and has much room for growth, but he absolutely displayed the qualities that Bayern hoped to see, as he tallied four goals and four assists across competitions. A major knock on Gnabry has been his injury history, which is part of the grading system here. If Gnabry can ever find a regimen that limits the muscle, tendon, and ligament strains that he experiences, his output and consistency will only improve.
Arjen Robben: B
The 34-year old winger has had many doubters and naysayers trying to throw dirt on the Dutchman’s last few months at the club, but Robben has been a bright spot. Robben showed his form in his most recent performances, despite being saddled with a couple of nagging injuries. With five goals and four assists across all competitions, Robben has showed that he still has gas left in the tank.
Robben’s spectacular brace against Benfica was a personal highlight for the Dutchman. If Niko Kovac can find a way to utilize his four wingers (plus Alphonso Davies) in a way that can keep them all happy, healthy, and consistently creating offense, Bayern’s wings could be a real area of strength in the second half of the season. Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, Robben is still quick and still can beat the opposition with his patented cut-in. He could be a very valuable asset in the coming weeks.
Franck Ribery: B-
Another veteran who entered the season with a lot of doubters, the Frenchman has done well to silence his critics. The 35-year-old winger struggled a bit out of the gates this season, but he has seen a significant uptick in his play of late. With five goals and one assist across competitions, Ribery has shown that he still has the touch, fire, and flair for the dramatic that have made him such a valuable asset over the years.
Kingsley Coman: C+
As always with Coman, the questions never revolve around his skill or ability, but around his ability to stay healthy. During a key phase of the season, Coman once again found himself relegated to the stands with an ankle injury. In nine appearances, Coman has two goals and one assist — numbers that we hoped would be more impactful even with the limited field time.
When healthy, Coman’s production has been solid, but not overly spectacular. At this stage, we were hoping to see a little more of his talent to create offense with his pace. Perhaps he is working toward that. Like Robben and Ribery, there have been long stretches where Coman’s production falls short of his skill level. As a young player with great expectations placed upon him, Coman is no doubt graded a bit harsher. That said, his relatively quiet first half could pave the way for a more explosive second half, assuming he can shake the injury bug and stay healthy for the duration.
Sandro Wagner: C
Wagner is an interesting case. He is a consummate team player and is a valuable weapon off of the bench. Simply put, Wagner just hasn’t seen the field enough to warrant a higher grade. Should Kovac decide to rest Lewandowski more down the stretch, perhaps there will be more opportunities for the Bavarian Big Man to make an impact. In 12 appearances, Wagner has just one goal and no assists.
One of the key things that Wagner brings is a raw passion and fire to the pitch whenever he is called upon. He is not afraid to impose his size and power on the opposition and gives Bayern a different look and feel when he’s on the field. Hopefully, circumstances will allow Wagner more opportunities to show his form in the second half.