For the closing 23 minutes of Bayern Munich’s 0-0 draw against RB Leipzig, Bayern had three left-footed defenders on the pitch: Alphonso Davies, David Alaba, and Lucas Hernández. Hernández had made his return from a long injury layover when he came on in the 67th minute for Jerome Boateng, and Hansi Flick seemed concerned about the number of times Leipzig’s attackers had beaten Boateng for pace.
Speaking to AZ, Alaba made a point of saying how sharp and hungry Hernandez looks fresh after his return:
Lucas is already looking very good. We saw today that he’s very lively and plays bravely. He’s fast and strong in duels, and also brings security on the ball. That’s nice to see. We all know how important he is to us.
Alaba also praised Davies’s performance at left-back, whose pace offers Bayern a tremendous amount of cover, especially when they’re on the back foot defending counter-attacking situations. Alaba said,
He’s developing really very positively, does that well in training, and performs very courageously in the games. His speed helps us enormously.
Although Hernandez’s introduction was a tactical decision by Flick to negate the threat that Leipzig might expose the slower Boateng, Alaba admitted that playing with three left-footed defenders in the back line of four, with himself as the right center-back, was something he had never tried before:
It’s a little unusual for me, something new. Hard to say whether that’s a solution for the future. I played it for the first time and then not for very long. I had never trained that variant before.
Alaba admitted that the role was “not necessarily my ideal position. I’d feel more comfortable on the left.” For now, however, Flick has not completely ruled out the possibility of playing with three left-footed players in defense. Much will depend on how well Hernández progresses after coming back from injury.