Since joining from VfB Stuttgart over the summer, Benjamin Pavard has arguably been one of Bayern Munich’s most consistent performers this season. Niko Kovac has started him in all 5 of Bayern’s Bundesliga matches as well as in the first round of the DFB-Pokal and the first group-stage match in the Champions League.
Pavard put in another solid 90 minute shift in Bayern’s 4-0 win over FC Köln before Oktoberfest. Speaking after the match, club President Uli Hoeness said that he always knew Pavard would be a positive transfer for the club. Hoeness feels that, at a price of €35 million, the French defender could prove to be one of Bayern’s best transfers ever (AZ):
Already after a few weeks, he’s now showing that he will be one of the best transfers that we have ever made. For me, it’s not decisive what a player costs. It was always clear to me that he’d be an outstanding transfer. Above all, because he has wonderful character.
Pavard’s teammates, Lucas Hernandez and Philippe Coutinho also praised the defender for his performances for Bayern. Hernandez recognized the defensive versatility that Pavard possesses: “He’s a magnificent player who can play nearly every position on defense.” Coutinho highlighted the strong tournament Pavard had for France at World Cup 2018 and said that he’s happy to have him as a teammate at Bayern:
I’m not surprised by him because he already showed at the World Cup that he is simply very good. I’m glad that I’m now playing with him on a team.
BFW Analysis: luxury in versatility provided by Pavard
Pavard’s versatility to play right-back and center-back has brings great value to Bayern. Niklas Süle, Jerome Boateng, Lucas Hernandez, Pavard, and Lars Lukas Mai are all natural center-backs, but Kovac has also deputized Hernandez as left-back in the absence of David Alaba. Pavard has predominantly been used as a right-back this season, which has given Joshua Kimmich the ability to play a more advanced role as defensive midfielder instead of right-back — commonly referred to as the number 6 role.
While there are certainly mixed opinions as to whether Kimmich works well as a defensive midfielder, German National Team manager Joachim Löw also regularly utilizes him there. At this point, Kimmich has started in midfield in Bayern’s last four Bundesliga matches, although he did start at right-back in the Champions League against Red Star Belgrade.
Tactically, it is interesting to ask whether Bayern might have purchased Pavard specifically under the assumption that he would give Kimmich more freedom to play as a defensive midfielder. Thiago, Corentin Tolisso, Leon Goretzka, Thoms Müller, and Philippe Coutinho are all far more effective offensively. Other than Kimmich, Javi Martinez and newcomer Mickael Cuisance are the only other natural defensive midfielders in the squad, but neither has gotten many minutes this season. It would make sense if Bayern’s plan in buying Pavard was to play him most often at right-back, allowing Kimmich shift to midfield.
What does everyone think: is Kimmich good as a number 6 with Pavard at right-back? Let us know what you think in the comments section!