All this movement in the transfer window has seen players come and go, but sometimes these players can’t fill in the gaps left behind by their predecessors. That made us wonder, “Does Bayern Munich have the players for the positions that need replacements?” In this three-part series, we go through each part of the team and see what needs to be done or what can be done. We will discuss what places need reinforcement, which players can be the reinforcement (current players first, then transfer targets), and the solution we think will be the most ideal.
1. Some players will appear in two categories because they are versatile enough to play in both areas.
2. The formation to be used is the 4-2-3-1.
3. Youth players aren’t included because they are relatively unproven, and because the article might be too long. Instead, feel free to suggest in the comments which youth players should be included.
We continue this three-part series in the heart of the team, the Midfield. The players that fall in this category are Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Marcel Sabitzer, Jamal Musiala, and newcomer Ryan Gravenberch. The midfield looks set already, and with the rumors linking RB Leipzig midfielder Konrad Laimer to Bayern Munich, we won’t discuss which positions need reinforcement and who can replace them. Instead, we will look at problems the midfield had last season and figure out what solutions will work best to solve each problem.
Pressing is a very important aspect of Bayern’s game. It pushes the players up higher to win the ball quicker and advance towards goal in fewer movements. But what happens if teams do the same to us?
This has been one of the glaring weaknesses of Bayern’s midfield last season. When teams press Bayern or have compact shapes, Bayern will struggle to regroup and find their way around so-called “anti-Bayern” tactics. What Bayern need here are mids who are press resistant, which means players that can withstand pressure from opposition players. Press resistant midfielders are pretty much like bait for their counterparts by dragging them out of position and exploiting the space they leave behind.
Solution: Smart pressing
There are some instances, like the game against Villarreal (more below), where poor judgment and poorly timed pressing opened spaces that shouldn’t have been opened and was the cause of Bayern’s downfall. The coach has to instruct his players not to step up if there’s too much space or if there are other players already marking the player.
Players out of position
Whenever players are pulled out of position, they leave behind space that can be exploited. Take for example the goal Bayern conceded in the 4-1 win against Hertha Berlin. Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann has a rule that CDMs can’t take throw ins because that leaves the center of the park free and opposition players can attack that space and invites opposition players to attack. Marc Roca, now of Leeds United, unfortunately forgot this rule and was unable to rush back to his position and that space paved the way for Hertha’s goal.
Another example is the 4-2 disasterclass against Bochum, where Bayern lined up in a 4-1-4-1. In the build-up to Bochum’s first goal, Bayern were in the attack and Serge Gnabry drifts inside even though Leroy Sané and Thomas Müller are already occupying the half spaces. Right-back Benjamin Pavard goes up for overlapping runs, which puts Bayern in a 4-1-5 with no midfield behind the CAMs. The space that Pavard left behind was exactly what Bochum needed, whose tactics involved wing-play with speedy players.
The last example is the goal that saw off Bayern in the Champions League against Villarreal. Kimmich was playing at center-back instead of his usual place at CDM because Pavard was right next to Giovanni Lo Celso who was about to play the pass through, and Goretzka isn’t there to cover the space that Kimmich vacated. Lo Celso had two players beside him and Goretzka should’ve covered the space instead of pushing up to try and dispossess Lo Celso. He does the latter, and the damage was done.
Solution: Instruct players to cover spaces
The coach must instruct his players on who should occupy spaces where opposition players can attack. A player should not leave their space if they’re either marking another player or occupying another area where players can sneak through at the slightest mistake.
The lone midfielder
Playing with just one midfielder is a recipe for disaster. Most of the time, it’s Kimmich (who is a guaranteed starter) who plays as the single midfielder, but Kimmich is an attack-minded player and often goes higher up the pitch. This leaves the midfield empty and no one shielding the defense. The solution is simple: play another midfielder beside Kimmich.
That wraps up Part 2 of this series. Thank you very much for reading, and now we want to hear it from you. Do you agree with our assessment? Have we missed someone? Would you suggest something else? Let us know in the comments! Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series!