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Should Bayern Munich switch to a radical formation? A look at a potential 3-5-1-1

What kind of world do we live in where a 4-3-3 is risky and new?

FC Bayern Muenchen Rottach-Egern Training Camp Photo by A. Beier/Getty Images for FC Bayern

So, nothing new in transfer news has come up recently (*blatantly ignores Sane news*) so I figured a crazy Bayern Munich lineup would stir the masses.

We writers talk amongst ourselves in Slack all of the time. So, when we started thinking of three new players we need to keep Robert Lewandowski happy, a lot of us started throwing out midfielders. Now, anyone who knows me knows I’m a Thomas Muller fan until death. So, given his lack of time in the middle, I started to fear his place in the team. We’ve always had a problem with the clogged artery that is our central midfielder corps. We have six players fighting for what amounts to three spots.

So, as I racked my brain in search for a way for Bayern to use more midfielders, I stumbled upon a rarely used formation: the 3-5-1-1.

I can’t name a team that uses it off the top of my head; and a Google search shows me that in 2011, Udinese was using it. So, I could call this a glorified 3-5-2, because the way it’s set up looks that way. But, I won’t because I don’t believe in click bait.

Here’s my crack at the lineup:


Manuel Neuer

Do I really need to explain this part any further? The best goalkeeper in the Bundesliga gets to keep his spot easily. Let’s hope he stays healthy this season.

Three Centerbacks

David Alaba and two other people

I know that isn’t the clearest choice in names, but Bayern no longer has one of its biggest problems from last season. The defensive depth is there, even with the departure of Mats Hummels. For the sake of this exercise, I’ll put Jerome Boateng alongside Joshua Kimmich.

But, the beauty in this formation is that it plays into Bayern’s flexibility. Those final two spots could easily be filled by Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard, with Kimmich sliding to a Central Defensive Midfielder position. Even in a worse case scenario, Lars-Lukas Mai or Chris Richards could slide into these spots.

Two Central Defensive Midfielders

Leon Goretzka and Corentin Tolisso

As I brought up in the previous section, this spot could be filled by Kimmich in a pinch. But, this is the natural position for both players, so they go here. Thiago could fill in here while also being granted the freedom to move about the pitch and distribute the ball. But, his skill is needed in a higher position, so I keep him out of this. It should also be mentioned that we are currently linked with a young CDM in the form of RCD Espanyol’s Mario Roca.

Left, Center, and Right Midfielders

Kingsley Coman, Thiago Alcantara, Serge Gnabry

So, with Leroy Sane’s transfer to Bayern in Jeopardy, I couldn’t put him in this lineup. But, say we hypothetically could. I’d put him on the left side to replace Kingsley in a heartbeat because Sane is just naturally better.

But, say we don’t get Sane and choose another option — let’s go with Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech. He would only be able to play on the right side. At which point it becomes a battle between Gnabry (who can play on the left) and Coman. Who would win that battle? It’s not for me to say (a.k.a. I’ll be watching the comments section), but for now, I’ll go with Gnabry. Not to mention, Alphonso Davies can fill in when Coman inevitably goes down injured.

Then there’s the last position in the CM. I put Thiago here, but he can play in a deeper #6 role. That spot can be filled by current players like Renato Sanches or by new transfers like Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz.

Two-Headed Front

Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller

Muller has said himself that his talents are best used in the center of the field. It’s clear to anyone with eyes that he is more confident and better used there, but somehow, Niko has routinely used him on the right side. I’d put him in a #10 role right behind Lewy and slightly offset to be better able to work with the ball.

So here’s my lineup visually:

Go ahead and eviscerate me in the comments if you want. I know this isn’t gonna happen, but with the depth Bayern has at the moment, I feel this formation plays to that strength.

What do you think?

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