clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Where does Bayern Munich need reinforcement in the squad? Part 3 — The Defense

Who stands out in the area that let the team down at the worst possible times?

Is there anyone at fault for Bayern’s relatively lackluster 2021-22 season?
Photo by CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP via Getty Images

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.

The Defense (and Goalkeeper)

In the last part of this three-part series, we look at the part of the team that could’ve prevented a sour end to the season: The Defense. The players that fall in this category are Alphonso Davies, Lucas Hernandez, Benjamin Pavard, Dayot Upamecano, and newcomer Noussair Mazraoui. The futures of Tanguy Nianzou and Chris Richards at the club are uncertain, but they will still be included as nothing has progressed in terms of clubs talking with the player and/or club. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is also included but won’t be discussed since he is still running strong.

Bayern have shipped in 50 goals in all competitions last season, some of which were bad goals to concede such as in the 5-0 humiliation against Borussia Monchengladbach in the DFB-Pokal and the 2-1 aggregate loss to Villarreal in the Champions League. Bayern conceded 51 goals in 2019-20, but still won the treble. Make of that what you will.

Now we’ll look at the positions in the defense and see what the problems are, what can be done, and which personnel are needed. Similar to Part 1: central players followed by the wide players.

Central players (Center-back)

FC Bayern München v FC Salzburg: Round Of Sixteen Leg Two - UEFA Champions League
Lucas Hernandez and Upamecano are Bayern’s default center-back pairing
Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Such as in the first part of this series, the club has the personnel needed for rotation/depth and replacements in the defense. Lucas Hernandez and Dayot Upamecano are normally the starting CBs, but both players have their own issues. Hernandez is prone to picking up knocks here and there and the occasional big injury, but otherwise the best CB that Bayern have in their arsenal. On the other hand, Dayot Upamecano’s game is still not clean and looks shaky at times. Not to mention a Niklas Süle sized hole at the back. Who do Bayern have as their replacements if those two can’t play? Let’s find out who.

Replacements (Current Crop)

Tanguy Nianzou

DSC Arminia Bielefeld v FC Bayern München - Bundesliga
Nianzou is still an unfinished product
Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

First on the list is French center-back Tanguy Nianzou, who signed for Bayern in 2020 from Paris Saint-Germain. Nianzou had a rocky start but has since then established himself as a promising candidate to be Bayern’s next best thing in the heart of the defense. Nianzou has good physicality and a height of 1.91 meters or 6’ 3”, which means that heading shouldn’t be a problem. The problem with Nianzou is that he is still a bit raw and is prone to making rookie errors, such as his positioning that allowed RB Salzburg a (consolation) goal in the 7-1 rout of the Austrian side in the Champions League Round of 16. He also has a knack for going into reckless challenges, at one point getting an earful from Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann after injuring Fabian Kunze that spelled the end of the Arminia Bielefeld player’s involvement in the host’s 3-0 reverse back in April (see photo above).

Benjamin Pavard

FC Bayern München v VfB Stuttgart - Bundesliga
Pavard is either good or bad depending on which one appears in games
Photo by Roland Krivec/vi/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Bayern’s 2018 World Cup winner and right-back Benjamin Pavard has been a mixed bag in recent memory. He’s either a rock or ghost in defense, it’s a literal toss-up. Pavard originally played centrally before being moved to right-back, but Noussair Mazraoui’s arrival grants the Frenchman’s wish to move back to center-back.

Chris Richards

FC Bayern München v TSG Hoffenheim - Bundesliga
Richards had an impressive loan stint at Hoffenheim
Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

The FC Dallas product who has a big future ahead of him, Chris Richards has spent the last two seasons on loan at TSG Hoffenheim and has looked impressive for the Sinsheim club. Many fans wanted to see the American defender feature regularly for Bayern, but that might not be the case. French club Olympique Lyonnais are reportedly interested in Richards, but there are also rumors linking him to England and Spain. Should Bayern let him go or should they give him his deserved playing time with the first team?

Replacements (Transfer Targets)

Gleison Bremer (Torino), Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), and Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)

The Serie A center-back trio have emerged as options to strengthen Bayern’s defense. Koulibaly and Bremer are the more feasible options because both are cheaper (€35 million) compared to de Ligt (€70+ million). Koulibaly’s contract ends next year, while Bremer and de Ligt are under contract until 2024.

Wide players (Wingbacks/Fullbacks)

FC Bayern Muenchen Celebrates Winning The Bundesliga
Davies is an important part of Bayern’s system
Photo by S. Mellar/FC Bayern via Getty Images

Alphonso Davies and Mazraoui will be manning the left and right sides of the defense respectively, regardless of Nagelsmann playing three or four in defense. Worst case scenario is that Bayern play Englishman Omar Richards or Hernandez on the left and put Pavard back at right-back.

Final Verdict

The default back line would be Davies-Hernandez-Upamecano-Mazraoui. However, if one of the center-backs can’t play or Nagelsmann plays a back three, then one of Richards and Bremer or Koulibaly (assuming we sign someone) will slot in; Nianzou should be loaned out.

With Part 3 done, that concludes this series. Thank you very much for reading all three parts of the series. For one last time: 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!

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Bavarian Football Works Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Bayern Munich news from Bavarian Football Works