Bayern Munich ended the Hinrunde with their longest Bundesliga run of conceding first for seven matches in succession. What’s also a competition record, however, is that after being a goal down, no team has fought back to get a point in all of those games. And that speaks volumes about this particular area, a machine, as many have labelled it, that coach Hansi Flick has assembled at the helm of the club - Bayern Munich’s offense.
65 goals were scored in 23 matches of all competitions. 16 different players registered their name on the scoresheet in the process. At this moment, we have probably lost count of the records that were shattered along the way. After winning everything there was to win in last season, Flick’s treble-winning offense picked up right where it left off, showing a strong character by churning out wins during these exceptional times and leaving fans in awe with skilled and artistic moves.
So, how did our attackers perform this term? Let’s take a look.
Douglas Costa: C+
Minutes played: 503
Brought in as fourth winger, Douglas Costa received most of his chances through substitute cameos. But unlike Leroy Sané, for instance, the 30-year old Juventus loanee couldn’t capitalize on playing against tired legs of opposition.
Costa can still produce moments of flair and has those cheeky tricks-and-flicks in his bag. A case can be made for the Brazilian adapting to Bayern’s high-intensity playing style, similar to the rest of new signings. But he has looked a shadow of his former self and at this point, he might as well be behind Jamal Musiala in pecking order. Nonetheless, it never hurts to have an extra body in this highly injury-prone area.
Leroy Sane: B-
Minutes played: 805
A goal involvement every 100 minutes isn’t necessarily bad, but the reality is quite different when it comes to Leroy Sané. Out of his eight G+A, three have come from one match and the rest, after coming off the bench (as per FBref). Apart from his inconsistent outings, he has brought the lack of defensive awareness and pressing intelligence with him from his days at Manchester City.
But his situation isn’t all doom and gloom. The 24-year old is still a terrific super-substitute and looks to be working hard in training. The entire club, from leaders Thomas Müller and Robert Lewandowski to coach Flick to the front office has backed Sané to achieve success. How the Germany international progresses from here will depend on his work ethic.
Serge Gnabry: B-
Minutes played: 1290
Serge Gnabry has endured his poorest form since joining the German giants. For a man who had added another goal-scoring dimension to Bavarians’ attack, 5 scorer points (three out of which came against Schalke) in nearly 1300 minutes is a shocking downfall and far from the standards he had set in his previous seasons.
His buildup involvement has more-or-less remained the same but the offensive aspects of the game; like his take-ons (down 16% from last season), shot-creating actions (down by 25%), key passes (down 28%), have all taken a hit. To make matters worse, he also lost possession of the ball (15 times) more than any of his competitors.
One might think that at this rate, Jamal Musiala will man the flank alongside Kingsley Coman come UEFA Champions League Ro16 tie against Lazio, especially given how the former is quickly rising to stardom.
But if history has taught us anything, Gnabry will return with all guns blazing after the winter break. Hopefully, the “Chef” has fulfilled his quota of poor performances in his weak-sauce Hinrunde.
Kingsley Coman: A+
Minutes played: 1010
King of the wing and Bavaria’s precious, Kingsley Coman produced his standout period of football at Bayern. Where Gnabry, Sané and Costa have had a rocky time, Coman was one of the most consistent performers of this side, having developed an acute understanding of what his coach demands. Not only has he maintained his high shot-creating actions from previous seasons (5 per 90), his goal-creating actions have more than doubled, with the Frenchman having a hand in at least 1.2 goals per 90 minutes of play. Dribbling success rate has taken a 24% upturn and so far, Coman remains this attack’s best crosser (with 32% accuracy).
Every area of his play has either been maintained or underwent improvement but what cannot be quantified is the confidence Flick has instilled in him. “Tempo-setter” Coman isn’t afraid of taking his chances and he never fails to commit himself to the mandatory defensive work.
He is leading the Bundesliga table with seven assists, alongside Müller. The #7 may have been allotted to Gnabry but the true heir of King Franck Ribery has been wearing #29, for almost five years now.
Eric Maxim Choupo Moting: B
Minutes played: 385
Opportunities were limited, but they were enough for Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to display his set of attributes, namely his creative mindset and great ball-control. The former Paris Saint-Germain man helped Reds bridge the gap in quality between Lewandowski and Joshua Zirkzee that had proved to be too big. So far, he has been proficient at his job as a deputy #9, scoring a stunning double in his debut and adding experience to Flick’s squad.
Joshua Zirkzee: N/R
Minutes played: 105
Zirkzee doesn’t qualify for assessment due to lack of playing time.
Robert Lewandowski: A+
Minutes played: 1550
Nowadays, Lewandowski doesn’t need to score to make his mark. Yet for some reason unknown to us mortal beings, the prolific Pole has managed to act as an auxiliary midfielder as well as found the back of the net on 17 occasions in the league. Throw in his four assists and his production climbs to a goal involvement every 48 minutes!
Despite playing for the national team in a congested club football schedule, fatigue and wounds from rough duels are a non-factor for Bayern’s resident TORminator. Given the irrepressible rate at which he is scoring, the hopes of Lewandowski breaking Gerd Müller’s record have arisen once again. Considering that the schedule is only going to get easier from now, Lewandowski might as well break it this time around.
Back in September, RB Leipzig trainer Julian Nagelsmann admitted that the world’s best player cannot get any better than this. Well Naglesfam, you are in for a big surprise.
Overall offense rating: A+
Despite the average Hinrunde of half of attackers, Flick’s offense still gets the highest grade for its overall showing.
It is perhaps not down to just an individual but the system that Flick has designed - from the backline to the front, that helps Die Roten create chances through a plethora of ways and operate at peak efficiency.
Offense also shouldn’t equate to seven players’ output. Leon Goretzka’s Hulk-like attacking thrusts, Joshua Kimmich’s long-range screamers, David Alaba’s countless line-breaking passes, Lucas Hernandez’ pin point crosses and Alphonso Davies’ dazzling dribbles have all made significant contributions. Maybe it has come at the expense of leaking a few goals. But if it helps Müller and company put eight past Barcelona, I won’t be the one to complain about conceding two in return.