Bayern Munich are now fewer than two weeks away from opening the Rückrunde against Hoffenheim at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena. After a short holiday break, the Bayern squad has been in Doha, Qatar, for their winter training camp in preparation for the second half of the season. Niko Kovac will certainly hope his side picks up right where they left off in December, having won five and drawn once across competitions in their last six matches.
The Hinrunde was a mixed bag of individual performances on the Bayern squad. In some matches, few players came away with any sort of praise, but in others it was hard to pick out a player who didn’t put in a solid shift, especially in December. That said, we’re all looking forward to the second half of the season with high hopes of Bayern going the distance on all three fronts. More specifically, we’d like to take a look at which players we’re most excited to watch during the Rückrunde.
John N. Dillon: Kingsley Coman
Kingsley at last made his second comeback after his season was derailed in the opening match of the season against Hoffenheim. Now his second chance against the same team is here. Coman is the most senior — or as senior as you can be at 22 — of the successors to Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. Gnabry is older, but even newer to the team. While Gnabry has had more of an impact in Coman’s absence (four goals, four assists in over 1000 minutes), it is Coman’s time to shine. His performances while regaining his form have left something to be desired. On the stats sheet, he has only a goal against Ajax Amsterdam — no assists in about 280 minutes of playing time since returning. He has to turn up the production along with the speed.
Logan Chugg: Franck Ribery
I want to see what Ribery can do. He ended the Hinrunde so hot, but he also went on stretches earlier in the season where he could not get a goal or an assist to save his life. He also has been a bit dramatic lately. Ribery has announced that his contract at FCB is coming to a draw. While Robben seems great about leaving Bayern, Ribery seems to believe that he can get still get a contact extension. There are so many question marks surrounding Franck Ribery.
Chuck Smith: Leon Goretzka
Leon Goretzka. The former Schalke man made great strides in the final two months of the first half. The talent is obviously there for Goretzka, but it did take him some time to adapt to accepting more defensive responsibilities. The primary reason I am interested in watching his development from this point is that the midfield logjam will be in full effect (at least until the injury gods unleash their fury). With Thiago Alcantara primed to be play one of the roles in Niko Kovac’s double pivot and Javi Martinez and Renato Sanches seemingly confined to roles as deep substitutes, Goretzka could be the reason either Thomas Muller or James Rodriguez heads to the bench or the odd man out should Kovac decide to try and find a way to use Muller and James together. Given how the “extreme rotation” caused Kovac so many issues earlier in the season, it is hard to see a way how Kovac makes it all work without at least one high-profile player being pushed aside for an extended stay on the bench.
Jake Fenner: Joshua Kimmich
In the second half of the season, I’ll be looking to see how Kimmich will be used. He’s currently second in assists in the Bundesliga and boasts a 92% pass completion rate, so he may be more useful as a midfielder, but he has put most of his time in at right back. Now that Rafinha is back and healthy, Kovac can use Kimmich in a greater variety of roles and by doing so, his contributions to the score sheet could increase. If Rafinha starts and the choice at CDM is between Kimmich and Martinez, I’ll pass on Javi. But, for now, it seems that Kimmich is settled along the right wing and he will continue to prove to the Bundesliga and the world that he is one of the best Right Backs in the game.
We’d also like to know what everyone else thinks. Who are you really excited to watch during the second half of the season? Let us know in the comments section and be sure to let us know why.