The departure of Robert Lewandowski left Bayern Munich ill-equipped to operate like it normally would like to.
Having an established, threatening striker sitting atop a 4-2-3-1 has become “The Bayern Munich Way” for many fans and has been the pathway to success for the club.
Now, however, the primary options to man the No. 9 position are perennial backup Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, fish-out-of-water Thomas Müller, and probably-too-inexperienced-for-prime-time youngster Mathys Tel.
At this point, it does not appear as if the club thinks that Lewandowski’s replacement on the roster, Sadio Mane, or fellow attacker Serge Gnabry, who has pleaded for a central role (though he thinks he’s best suited to play as a No. 10) are even in consideration.
Like many fans, the options you see are not exactly breeding confidence for the second half of the season. So…what’s next? Who would give you confidence to fill the role?
How about Jamal Musiala? Below, I’ll tell you why.
Musiala is trouble for any defender
Musiala’s skill-set is obviously best utilized as a No. 10 or on the wing. His silky dribbling, explosive movements, creativity, vision, and nose for the goal are all incredible attacking attributes and a complete nightmare for defenders trying to thwart him in tight spaces.
Sure, Musiala’s slight frame does not make him an ideal No. 9, but he can affect the game in so many ways without being a violent, physical presence in the box. There is no defender that looks forward to taking on Musiala when he has the ball on his foot near the goal.
Musiala’s ability to make short, dynamic runs, which utilize his ability to explode away from defender in short distances, make him a nightmare matchup for most center-backs. Moreover, the mere threat of Musiala draws so much attention from others defenders, that things will open up for others, which brings us to...
Musiala requires so much attention, other players will benefit
The Germany international has a growing reputation as one of the most dangerous players in the box and he is absolutely worthy of all of the extra attention he is getting from the fans, media, and defenders.
All of that focus should open things up for the No. 10 (Müller can still finish and is an expert at finding those spatial openings) and the variety of wings that Julian Nagelsmann has at his disposal. The true strengths of this Bayern Munich attack is its creativity (when the squad is motivated) and how the group’s overall speed creates panic to within the opposition’s defense.
In addition, keeping Müller’s own creativity and vision on the pitch will only enhance Musiala’s game more. Together — in this alignment — could be Bayern Munich’s best way to utilize the players available to Nagelsmann.
Using Musiala as the No. 9 will allow that creativity and speed to thrive in the newly open space that will be available with so many eyes drawn to Musiala. Musiala’s vision on the pitch is tremendous and the youngster as often shown the knack for making something out of nothing...all of which makes him fully capable of filling the role of striker for the second half of this season.
Chelsea won a Champions League with Timo Werner and Kai Havertz leading the attack. Neither player is a considered a true striker, but they created enough havoc to win an unexpected and unlikely crown over Manchester City in the Champions League final back in 2021.
Why can’t Musiala do the same thing?
Sure, Musiala’s finishing during the World Cup was not where it needed to be, but that seemed more like a slump than any sort of prolonged issue. His finishing prior to the tournament in Qatar was pretty darn solid and he has shown that he is equally adept at scoring from long-range or in-close. He truly can score with his right foot, left foot, or via headers despite not being a traditional target man.
So why not? Let’s see if Musiala can create the chaos that I believe that he is capable of.