Although the season is still young, Bayern Munich is entering its first defining phase. With seven matches over the next 23 days, the Bavarian giants will compete across competitions in the hopes of laying the groundwork for a treble-winning campaign. Following a a 3-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen in the first match of the gauntlet, Bayern will hope they can cope with injuries and maintain their unbeaten record.
Bayern Munich’s next 23 days
The Bavarians got off to a solid start against a talented, yet underachieving Leverkusen side, but that is only the beginning. Three out of the next four Bundesliga opponents during this run of games have the quality to threaten for Champions League places and will not shy away from a chance to take down the Bavarian giants. Despite a slow start, Schalke legitimately matches up with Bayern, while Mönchengladbach and Hertha have been impressive so far this campaign. Travelling to both Gelsenkirchen and Berlin only complicates matters.
Bayern’s Champions League draw may be considered forgiving to many, but an away trip to Lisbon to face Benfica and a midweek match against Ajax sandwiched between Hertha and ‘Gladbach both represent potential banana peels along the Champions League track. Die Roten should be expected to finish atop of Group E, but overlooking any of these difficult fixtures could be costly moving into the knockout rounds.
The record champions boast an embarrassment of riches in terms of squad depth, especially in the midfield, but they already are facing an injury crisis. Kinglsey Coman and now also Corentin Tolisso are out until 2019, and Rafinha will also take “several weeks” (months?) to recover from his ankle injury. Given Bayern’s injury-prone players in key roles, Niko Kovac must rely on squad rotation and astute management to navigate the coming month.
The congested fixture list also allows Kovac to keep his locker room full of egos content with their playing time and role in the team. Fringe players such as Renato Sanches and Sandro Wagner are sure to feature heavily, while Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery will have ample opportunities to angrily storm off the field after being substituted.
If the Rekordmeister can emerge from this gauntlet of games unscathed and maybe even unbeaten, they will have laid a solid foundation for success domestically and in Europe.