Bayern Munich is in a place where they have ample depth in virtually every department. Their defense has made significant improvements with Dayot Upamecano and Matthijs de Ligt currently holding down the center-back spots partially due to the long-term injury to Lucas Hernandez, but there’s added depth at both right-back and left-back, too.
Benjamin Pavard had recently expressed his frustration to not have started two straight matches for Bayern when Julian Nagelsmann preferred to start Noussair Mazraoui, but Pavard also recently featured at center back, which is his preferred spot. He made a name for himself as a center back at VfB Stuttgart before Bayern signed him. Pavard certainly staked his claim to Nagelsmann with a solid performance and a goal to boot in Bayern’s midweek 2-0 win over Inter Milan to close out the Champions League group stages, but Bayern president Herbert Hainer recently spoke about how the club is grateful to have the added defensive depth this season.
“We said that we want to have a back-up if Pavard has to play inside or is injured. Now we have a very good alternative in Mazraoui,” Hainer recently said, per Az’s Maximilian Koch. When de Ligt suffered his injury just before halftime during Bayern’s 6-2 win over FSV Mainz, that’s exactly what happened. Mazraoui had started at right back, but Pavard was able to come on in place of De Ligt at center-back, and that’s also how Nagelsmann chose to start for the 2-0 win over Inter Milan.
Pavard was clearly frustrated to start from the bench against Mainz and Barcelona just a few days prior to the point where he wouldn’t make eye contact with any of the coaches, physios, or most of his teammates while entering and exiting the training pitch at Sabener Strasse. Nagelsmann is almost obliged to make rotations in his team selections to help avoid too many injuries stacking up, but Pavard has made it clear he does not like starting from the bench, and also prefers a center back role, especially with Hernandez’s long injury absence.
Still, despite Pavard’s frustration, Hainer voiced how pleased Bayern’s front office has been with his performances so far this season and felt there’s really no reason for him to be too upset about anything. “Benji is a very important player for us. He did a great job at right-back all season, and he’s also excellent inside. He really doesn’t have to be dissatisfied,” he stressed.