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Is Juan Bernat Bayern Munich’s answer to Franck Ribery?

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Putting the little Spaniard on the left wing could cause more problems than it solves.

Juan Bernat of Muenchen controls the ball during the Friendly match between Al-Ahli and Bayern Muenchen at Aspire Academy on January 06, 2018 in Doha, Qatar.
Juan Bernat, aka “Der kleine Hobbit” or ‘“The little Spaniard who could.”
Photo by TF-Images/TF-Images via Getty Images

It’s no secret that Bayern Munich has a problem on the left wing. With Kingsley Coman’s potentially season-ending injury, Franck Ribery remains the squad’s only natural left winger. This is not an ideal situation, because Franck Ribery has been absolutely putrid whenever he has taken to the field. So what can be done about it?

Enter: Juan Bernat

Bayern Munich’s Spanish hobbit is no stranger to the left wing. In this new interview with FCBayern.tv, Bernat reveals that he had started out as a left winger early in his career, before gradually being moved further and further back.

His game against Freiburg was a relative success. The little Spaniard linked up well with his partner David Alaba, and he created a plethora of chances on Freiburg’s right flank. If only he had aimed his crosses a little bit higher ...

For a left-back playing out of position and after extended minutes on the bench, it was a very good performance from Bernat, certainly one superior to the current iteration of Franck Ribery. If Bernat gets extended minutes on the pitch, he could actually be a very good left winger for Bayern for the remainder of the season.

Not so fast, though ...

Juan Bernat is not Bayern Munich’s only option on the left wing. There’s also James Rodriguez. Now, Jupp Heynckes has made it clear that he sees James as an attacking midfielder and does not want to play him out wide. However, Bayern’s current injury situation could make such a move necessary. James played on the left in his days at Monaco, and he was very good at it. Can Jupp Heynckes justify playing Juan Bernat over him on the left? Especially since it would mean benching one of James Rodriguez, Thomas Muller, or Arjen Robben for a big game?

Another issue is that Juan Bernat is Bayern’s only backup to David Alaba. If you’re playing Bernat at left wing and either one of them gets injured, suddenly you’re down to just Rafinha to cover left-back. That is not an ideal or even a tenable situation. This lack of depth on the left means that Bernat cannot be anything more than a second choice option.

Tough luck, hobbit.