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Nagelsmann’s Bayern Munich to play a back-four, back-three only an “alternative”

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Julian Nagelsmann is a smart man, and that means he won’t fix what does not need fixing.

New Head Coach Of FC Bayern Muenchen Julian Nagelsmann Photo by M. Donato/FC Bayern via Getty Images

Fans of Bayern Munich may well remember the rampant speculation that surrounded new coach Niko Kovac: he had led Eintracht Frankfurt to great heights with a gritty system that relied on a back three. Would he introduce the “back three” at Bayern Munich?

You might be amused that we at Bavarian Football Works speculated no fewer than three times about that very question: after Kovac was announced, in the summer before his second season, and again as he pondered the transfer window closing without a significant offensive signing. Those were the days!

And then Kovac just played a back four.

Now, of course, the speculation has revolved around Julian Nagelsmann, who led TSG Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig to great heights with a system likewise based on a back line of three center-backs. We have collectively wondered who the potential winners and losers of such a system might be, and we have duly reported Sport Bild’s own speculation about Nagelsmann’s Bayern.


Of course, it’s all for naught if Nagelsmann ultimately retains Bayern Munich’s tried and tested 4-2-3-1 system or some variation of it. That, Sport Bild now reports, is evidently what Nagelsmann intends to do. He sent the players a WhatsApp video during the Euros in which he introduced himself and his goals (namely, win everything). Among other things, Nagelsmann briefly described the system he intends to implement at Bayern: no, not a back three, but rather Bayern’s Brot und Butter, the traditional back four.

Nagelsmann added (unsurprisingly) that he will also turn to a back-three, but not as his primary system. That no doubt will come as good news to many fans who questioned the need for Bayern Munich to turn to a back-three system, which tends to be interpreted as a defensive approach in contrast to the high-octane offensive game that Jupp Heynckes and Hansi Flick brought onto the pitch.

Nagelsmann is an astute coach who knows his employers and knows the fans. It thus is not surprising that he promises to build on what he finds at Säbener Strasse rather than tear it down. Given the many personnel changes from last season to the next, Nagelsmann will have plenty of work to do without reinventing the fundamentals of Bayern Munich’s game.


And I’m not gonna say I told ya so, but...

PS: I’m back after a long hiatus!