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Opinion: Without Benjamin Pavard, Bayern Munich should rely on Niklas Süle at right-back

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Bayern Munich manager Hansi Flick should trust Niklas Süle for the club’s upcoming matches against Eintracht Frankfurt and Lazio.

FC Schalke 04 v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga Photo by Stefan Matzke - sampics/Corbis via Getty Images

The news that Bayern Munich right-back Benjamin Pavard had tested positive for COVID-19 could probably not come at a worse time for the player or the club.

Pavard, who had slumped a bit earlier in the season, had a string of very good performances that gave the hint that he had re-found his form and confidence. With the Bavarians facing two offensively potent teams in their next two games (Eintracht Frankfurt and Lazio), Pavard’s presence on the right-defensive-flank will certainly be missed.

So, how does Bayern Munich replace its starter without suffering through a massive drop in quality? Let’s take a look at the immediate options on the roster.

Bouna Sarr is Pavard’s “official” back-up, but has been awful during his tenure in Bavaria thus far. To be clear, Sarr has not earned anywhere near enough trust to handle a daunting assignment like the next two games and reportedly already has Bayern Munich looking at different options for next season.

Joshua Kimmich was probably the world’s best right-back during his time playing the position, but removing him from Bayern Munich’s midfield at this stage could be calamitous and should be classified as one of those “only in a case of emergency” situations. Kimmich often dictates with pace of each game with his stability centrally and his ability to play big roles on both offense and defense. Moving him, could cause far more issues than it is worth.

So...what about Niklas Süle?

The 25-year-old defender has already turned in several very good performances at right-back this season and should be Hansi Flick’s selection to cover for Pavard during this stretch of games.

The natural inclination, though, might be to push Kimmich out-wide and insert Marc Roca or Corentin Tolisso into the lineup. The issue with that is that neither of those players can offer what Kimmich does in terms of an all-around game — plus, Leon Goretzka is still not a 100% certainty to be fully available for either Eintracht Frankfurt or Lazio. It is likely that Goretzka will play, but he is coming off of COVID-19 and calf issues.

FC Bayern Muenchen v Tigres UANL - FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020
Niklas Süle continues to work his way back to top-form from last season’s ACL injury and has certainly had some hiccups along the way.
Photo by Gaston Szerman/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

More, Tolisso has not been at his best this season and Roca has barely played. Using either player in such big games could be a huge risk for Flick. In addition, having Kimmich and Goretzka together almost assuredly means that Bayern Munich will win the battle in the central midfield — an essential factor in every Bayern Munich game plan.

Why Süle? Because the team needs him and because he needs this.

The big man has come under fire for a litany of items this season so far. His weight, his form, and his overall health in recovering from knee surgery have all been scrutinized heavily. To pile on, Bayern Munich just signed Süle’s potential replacement in RB Leipzig center-back Dayot Upamecano.

If any player needs the opportunity to play and prove his mettle — and value — it is Süle.

And sure, it has not been a banner season for Süle, but we already should have known it would be a struggle at times for the defender. Thanks to modern medicine, undergoing an ACL injury and subsequent surgery these days often leads to a quicker return to the pitch, but a longer recovery to get to 100% because players simply rush back too quickly.

After his ACL injury, Tolisso went from dynamic and fearless on the pitch to almost 18 months of still trying to regain full confidence in his body. Simply put, an ACL tear is nothing to trifle with.

Back to the matter at hand, though: To survive this slate with its best possible 11 on the pitch, Bayern Munich will need Süle to play right-back and to play it well. The Germany international certainly should not be lacking for motivation, but he has to know and understand what he can do physically as he continues his quest to get back to 100%.

For the Bavarians, none of this will be easy, but at least they have a talent like Süle to provide their opposition with different look on the defensive-flank. For Süle, this is one more chance to show his worth on the pitch, to regain that confidence in himself physically, and to show that “The King stay the King” for Bayern Munich’s future on the backline.

If there is anything we know about Süle, the former Hoffenheim player won’t cede his throne as Bayern Munich’s future at center-back easily and now is his opportunity to get back moving in the right direction with his career.