On Saturday, Bayern Munich’s front office and fans alike had a wrench thrown in their title plans this season with news that defensive stalwart Niklas Süle has suffered a potentially season-ending ACL tear. Speaking on the Totally Football Show this week, The Athletic expert and author Rafael Honigstein voiced his thoughts on what this could mean for Bayern and Germany.
About the situation at Bayern, Honigstein did not mince words:
It’s a catastrophe for Bayern. Süle is supposed to be the boss, the guy who they can rely on and around whom their defence was supposed to be based after Hummels left. Suddenly selling Hummels doesn’t look that clever — maybe it didn’t look that clever to begin with — but now it’s been brought into sharp contrast.
Indeed, Süle looked all set to mature into a world-beater, and this injury has come at a very unfortunate time. The Bayern back line suddenly seems thin, and most fans seem to be miss Hummels authoritative presence dearly. Honigstein considers Bayern’s defence “stretched” without the big man:
Now you have to have Pavard and Hernandez, who both have issues of various kinds, having to play in the middle of that back four, which then puts Joshua Kimmich back to right-back, and also means they can’t give a breather to David Alaba on the left, who’s also been having issues. That Bayern defence on the whole looks very stretched.
The “issues” in question are presumably the recurring problems with Hernandez’s knee and Pavard’s nervous, inconsistent outings at centre-back so far. Kimmich and Alaba are moreover the only reliable fullbacks, which puts enormous pressure on them to stay fit. If one reflects that Boateng is the only pure centre-back left, Bayern is only one injury away from catastrophe.
Outlining German National team Joachim Löw’s situation, Honigstein thinks Löw may have to swallow his pride and call Hummels back:
He cannot buy the best French defenders to fill considerable gaps. I think he might just have to bite the bullet and come cap in hand to Hummels and say, “All that stuff about you being out the team forever — I didn’t mean it like that. Come back!”
If Löw persists playing Jonathan Tah or other less reliable players, Germany may suffer an early knockout come the Euros.