Despite winning the Bundesliga last season, there was a lot of criticism for Julian Nagelsmann in his first season in charge of Bayern Munich, having crashed out of both the DFB-Pokal and Champions League in poor fashion. Even Oliver Kahn had recently said that was not too pleased with Nagelsmann’s maiden season at the helm in Munich, and former Bayern and Germany midfielder Michael Ballack has joined the chorus.
In a recent television appearance for DAZN, Ballack warned that Nagelsmann will be under increased pressure at Bayern this season. Despite losing Robert Lewandowski to FC Barcelona, the bar has risen in Bavaria. A transfer spending spree that’s netted Noussair Mazraoui, Ryan Gravenberch, Sadio Mané, Matthijs de Ligt, and Mathys Tel should be more than enough for Bayern to solidly compete across all fronts.
“If you look at the commitments, it’s interesting — and Julian Nagelsmann will be measured by that — whether he finds the best possible system with the team and the quality,” Ballack said, noting that the positive movements in the transfer window have helped to heaped on the pressure (SportBild).
Specifically, in the Champions League, Ballack said, “FC Bayern will have to listen carefully to the coach/team structure over the next two or three years in order to get the best out of it.”
Tactically, Bayern was outclassed by Villarreal last season. The Spanish outfit defied odds to get to the semi-finals, where they eventually lost out to Liverpool. It was a regrettable exit for Nagelsmann’s squad, though the coach was certainly not helped by the run of injuries and COVID-19 cases that had battered the team at the start of the Rückrunde, and from which they had just begun to recover.
Ballack also warned Nagelsmann about toying with the back line. Nagelsmann has said that he is open to experimenting with a back three this season, or perhaps even a back five depending on personnel and wing-back positioning. Many Bayern fans would argue that a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 would be a far more suitable formation with the squad composition.
“If I look at the transfers this summer, it already indicates that I want to be successful again with the back four,” he declared.
Of course, there’s still flexibility available ahead of the back four, which could mean a 4-3-3, 4-2-2-2, 4-2-3-1, or perhaps even a 4-5-1. Regardless, Ballack believes the back four would be the right foundation for Bayern — even if their coach seems committed to trying out other things.
Nagelsmann certainly didn’t have it easy in his first season. There were the Rückrunde troubles, Joshua Kimmich’s extended unavailability, as well as Alphonso Davies’ long spell out of the team. With the reinforcements now available, however, the coach should have everything he needs to avoid a repeat of last year’s blues. Will he be able to make the most of it?