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Hinrunde player ratings: Bayern Munich’s defenders

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The first in our series of Hinrunde player ratings. How did the defense do?

Eintracht Frankfurt v FC Bayern München - Bundesliga for DFL Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

It’s been a tumultuous season so far for Bayern Munich. Compared to the Hinrunde of 2018, the Bavarians are 3 points worse off but slightly closer to top spot. Of course, that’s not acceptable for a club such as Bayern, which is why Niko Kovac was sacked halfway into the Hinrunde and replaced with his assistant, Hansi Flick.

The bosses seem to be satisfied with the job Flick has done so far, and have decided to allow him to continue until the summer; however, that doesn’t mean it’s been smooth sailing by any means. The defense in particular has been a disaster this season, and many players have only themselves to blame.

So who were the standout performers? How did everyone do in defense? Let’s take a look:

Goalkeepers:

Manuel Neuer: A-

Minutes played: 2,340
Goals conceded: 31
Clean sheets: 8

31 goals conceded in 26 games may seem like a lot, but trust me, if Manuel Neuer wasn’t in goal those figures would likely be doubled. The Bayern captain was the rock in an otherwise shaky defensive setup, cleaning up the mistakes of those in front of him. However, there were a few moments where he could have done better, and the occasional mishit pass keeps him from a perfect rating.

Sven Ulreich: N/R

Minutes played: 0
Goals conceded: N/A
Clean sheets: N/A

Sven Ulriech didn’t play in the Hinrunde, so he doesn’t get a rating.

Fullbacks:

Alphonso Davies: A

Minutes played: 1,292
Goals scored: 1
Assists: 4

The Canadian youngster has been an absolute revelation this season, starting out of position at left back and still dominating the best. Davies’ speed and physicality are his greatest assets, which he uses to bully much older and more experienced players on a regular basis. His dominant performances against the likes of Jadon Sancho and Heung-Min Son have earned him high praise, and only a lack of experience and the occasional mistake (like against Bayer Leverkusen) keeps him from a perfect grade.

Benjamin Pavard: B

Minutes played: 2,239
Goals scored: 2
Assists: 4

Bayern’s new Frenchman unexpectedly found himself playing a ton of minutes this season, with most of them coming at right back while Joshua Kimmich moved to midfield. Pavard often excelled at his role, keeping the flank quiet with his pace and strength, while tirelessly running up the pitch to deliver crosses to Robert Lewandowski. However, he is more of a Rafinha than a Lahm, and sometimes found himself out of his depth in the harder games.

Perhaps, if Pavard had been given more opportunities at center back, his rating would have been higher.

Center backs:

Jerome Boateng: D

Minutes played: 1,050
Goals scored: 0
Assists: 0

For one of the senior-most players on the squad, Jerome Boateng really had a Hinrunde to forget. The German world-cup winner had a few decent outings, but was mostly woeful at the back throughout the first half. 5 yellow cards and one straight red in just 1,000 minutes of play tells a story all by itself.

Javi Martinez: C-

Minutes played: 892
Goals scored: 0
Assists: 0

Javi wasn’t as woeful as Boateng, but still pretty poor. The Spaniard’s lack of pace is his Achilles Heel at center back, and as Hansi Flick pushed his backline higher and higher up the pitch, Javi was soon exposed to dangerous counters that he had no way of dealing with. The only reason he gets a better score than Boateng is because he was playing out of position.

Niklas Sule: C+

Minutes played: 1,001
Goals scored: 0
Assists: 1

Niklas Sule’s rating here is influenced more by the gap left by his absence than anything he did on the pitch. While Sule was healthy, he was often criticized for poor defending, especially against fast wingers running down the gap left behind the right back. However, his ACL injury showed how much Bayern were dependent on his height, pace, and composure on the ball — there was literally a Sule-sized hole on the pitch at times. So he deserves a decent grade, but not quite a B.

Lucas Hernandez: C+

Minutes played: 632
Goals scored: 0
Assists: 0

It’s hard to rate a player based on just 632 minutes of playing time, especially when he’s a new arrival and his minutes are split between two positions. Lucas Hernandez had a few “wow” performances to kick off is Bayern career, but he and the rest of the team soon fell into a rut as Niko Kovac’s tenure spiraled out of control. Hopefully, he will pick up form in the Ruckrunde, as the Bavarians may need him against Chelsea.

David Alaba: A+

Minutes played: 1,453
Goals scored: 1
Assists: 1

David Alaba deserves his perfect score, as he has been the most consistent player so far this season and the linchpin of the defense. The Austrian was moved from left back to center back due to the injury crisis, and he began putting in world class performances almost immediately — combining his pace, distribution, and positioning to become what is essentially the “perfect” Bayern Munich center back.

He was also instrumental in the development of Alphonso Davies, giving him what was essentially real-time coaching on how to be a left back in the middle of games. This will be remembered as the year where David Alaba graduated to a real leadership role within Bayern Munich.


Overall defensive rating: D

31 goals conceded in just 26 games is appalling for a team of Bayern's stature, and the chief reason why the team is in 3rd place at the moment. Hansi Flick needs to sort this out in the second half of the season, otherwise even the likes of Chelsea could give the Bavarians a nasty surprise.