While Bayern Munich’s goal difference in the Bundesliga is actually better off this season than it was after this point last season under Hansi Flick, the defense has looked anything but consistent for the majority of Julian Nagelsmann’s maiden season as manager of the club. After 30 match weeks in the Bundesliga, Nagelsmann’s Bayern have scored 89 goals and conceded 29 (+60), while at this point last season they had scored 85 and had conceded 38 (+47). After a historic, treble-winning season in 2019/20, Hansi Flick only finished the 2020/21 season with the Bundesliga title before departing to become the new German national team manager.
Despite the numbers saying otherwise, this season has felt different under Nagelsmann. The defense, aside from a period in the beginning of the Hinrunde, has never really looked overly consistent for long spells. Niklas Sule, Lucas Hernandez, Benjamin Pavard, Tanguy Nianzou, and Alphonso Davies have all had injury problems at different times this season, so it hasn’t made things any easier for Nagelsmann, especially after having lost David Alaba, Jerome Boateng, and Javi Martinez over the summer. It’s also safe to say that, by in large, Dayot Upamecano has not lived up to expectations this season after joining from RB Leipzig this past summer.
All things considered, former Bayern midfielder turned pundit Dietmar Hamann sees the defense as Bayern’s Achilles’ heel this season and recently spoke about it on Sky90 – The Football Debate (via Sport Bild). “You had one of the best central defenses with Alaba and Boateng. Defense is Bayern’s Achilles’ heel at the moment,” he said, stressing the importance of the key players leaving over the summer. “If you look at the entire squad from two years ago and now, there is a huge difference. And nonetheless, it could or should have been enough for Villarreal,” he continued.
After going 1-0 down on aggregate from the first leg against Villarreal, Bayern players and staff spoke highly and confidently, assuring fans that they would get the job done in the second leg at the Allianz Arena. They did look the better side for large portions of that second leg, but failed to do enough to progress to the semifinals, giving away a cheap, counter-attack goal to seal their elimination fate.
Hamann reflected and said that he personally didn’t feel confident Bayern would do enough to turn it around in the second leg. For him, he felt that there was too much talking about rather than doing enough. “Before, Bayern never talked big — they did,” he stressed.