The story arc of any season features many ups and downs for any football club.
Injuries, illnesses, controversies, player unhappiness, massive individual successes, and more can all play a role in telling a team’s story. For Bayern Munch in the 2021/22 season, the chapters written in the first half could foretell great things by the end of this campaign.
Julian Nagelsmann’s first season in taking over for Hansi Flick has not always been smooth, but it has been ruthlessly efficient.
The biggest misstep from the Hinrunde was the unexpected — and embarrassing — 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Borussia Mönchengladbach. Even after that match, though, Bayern Munich simply shrugged and moved on.
There was no bickering, no leaks from the locker room, just an overall feeling of “(Bleep) happens, we’ll be better.”
There is a certain confidence and what looks to be a built-in resilience within this group. When one player struggles, another is almost always there to pick up the slack. Once overly reliant on Robert Lewandowski to be the primary source of offense, the 2021/22 version of Bayern Munich seemingly has a multitude of players all capable of springing for a brace in each contest.
To be clear, the 2021/22 team is not as smooth as the Pep Guardiola version and not as offensively relentless as Flick’s iteration — but there is enough creativity and ingenuity to keep the opposition off-balance.
Often confused and overwhelmed by Nagelsmann’s hybrid formation, Bayern Munich’s opponents almost always eventually cede to the pressure — and once that happens, the Bavarians often just take completely over.
Let’s be clear, this is not a conventional Bayern Munich squad despite having many parts that could have fit within the framework of a team coached by Jupp Heynckes or Flick. Alphonso Davies features more as an extra wing player or wing-back than a left-back. Leroy Sane is playing more centrally than ever before (and has been fantastic). Benjamin Pavard often functions as another center-back while he is listed as right-back on the lineup sheet. While this has seemingly created congestion in the box for Bayern Munich, it has also caused panic and confusion for the opposition.
The back-line, while still recklessly high at times, has found a way to mitigate counterattacks (for the most part) through better communication and the presence of that aforementioned third center-back.
Nagelsmann, who simply became an extension for all of Flick’s fantastic team-building qualities, also made the coaching change a seamless transition. Moreover, Bayern Munich is led on the pitch by Lewandowski, Thomas Müller, Joshua Kimmich, and Manuel Neuer — a quartet of widely-respected players who already know and understand what it takes to win at the highest level.
Right now...there might be some tactical or personnel weaknesses, but not enough to derail what could potentially be a historic campaign. If this squad eventually loses out, it will be because they simply were not the better team that particular day.
And while fans, pundits (including bloggers!), and others are all living in a world of instant reaction and scorching hot takes, Bayern Munich is just continuing to improve by the day without letting the noise seep into its locker room.
If all of that results in another Bundesliga title — and perhaps even a Champions League crown — no one will complain about any of those little gripes we have seen pop up over the past three-and-a-half months.
And if Bayern Munich somehow does manage to fall apart and collapse...well, (bleep) happens.