It’s not often that Bild gives us some genuinely insightful coverage of Bayern Munich, but when they do it tends to be pretty fascinating. This time, we’ve been treated to a (paywalled) report on how Julian Nagelsmann is trying to keep his players healthy this season, especially in preparation for the latter stages of the Champions League.
Ever since an injury-riddled Bayern were knocked out of the UCL by Real Madrid in 2018, it feels like the club have started to pay far more attention to the long-term health and fitness of the players. It started with improvements under Niko Kovac, who oversaw the introduction of regular monitoring of individual fitness levels by a dedicated team of doctors. From there, more and more additions were made, with large strides occurring under head of fitness Dr. Holger Broich.
Bayern came out of the pandemic lockdown as the fittest team on the planet, and it was that fitness that helped the club win a sextuple under Hansi Flick. Now, it seems like Nagelsmann is looking to improve even further with his own personal touch. Here’s a basic rundown of what’s being done:
- During games, Nagelsmann tries to substitute key players earlier. With the Bundesliga keeping the five subs rule for this season, it’s easier to do. Players like Alphonso Davies and Robert Lewandowski are probably the major beneficiaries to a scheme like this — the coach can’t afford to start a game without them, but they can go multiple games in a row without playing a full-90.
- Training sessions now often start with stabilization exercises, which can help prevent muscle and ligament injuries in the long run.
- Dr. Holger Broich constantly monitors metrics for players in order to control their workload. We’ve seen more and more individual players given days-off from training this season compared to previous years.
- Injured players are given an extra week or two to get fit and avoid rushing back and creating complications. Corentin Tolisso and Kingsley Coman are highlighted in the article, but fans will know that the club has been cautious even with minor injuries, like that of Jamal Musiala in the last few days. This might also explain why Marcel Sabitzer has been so slow to integrate into the lineup.
- Some training sessions before games only last 50-60 minutes instead the usual 90.
Bayern have been pretty lucky with injuries so far this season, but it always helps to be cautious. All of Bayern’s core players are full internationals with a lot of mileage on their bodies. Even putting aside the 30+ year-olds like Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller, you have a group of players playing extremely intense football with basically no breaks for months on end. Of course, accidents happen — see Sven Ulreich. But taking these precautions should pay dividends in the long run.
Hopefully, with skillful management and a bit of luck, Bayern Munich manage to have fewer injuries this season so they can ramp up the intensity when it counts. The latter stages of the Champions League are tough for any team, and Nagelsmann needs a fit squad if he wants to experience European glory this season.