There have only been two competitive matches for Bayern Munich thus far this season, if you even want to count the DFL-Supercup as a technical competitive fixture. Bayern’s attack is off to a flying start having scored 11 goals from the matches against RB Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt, and despite conceding four goals from the two encounters, the defense has looked much improved as well.
New signing Matthijs de Ligt has been touted to be Bayern’s new defensive leader, though he came on as a sub in both matches thus far, with Julian Nagelsmann having started Lucas Hernandez and Dayot Upamecano alongside one another. Of course, it will take de Ligt time to fully integrate with the squad and work into the starting eleven, but there will be English weeks towards the end of the month with Bayern’s first round DFB-Pokal match on the docket, so rotations will assuredly be made.
Former Bayern “defensive chief” David Alaba scored Real Madrid’s opening and winning goal against Frankfurt in their UEFA Super Cup victory in Helsinki, Finland. It was Hansi Flick who coined the “defensive chief” title for the Austrian international and Alaba recently spoke to Sport Bild (via Sport1) and said that he feels de Ligt can and will become Bayern’s new leader in defense. “Matthijs de Ligt definitely has what it takes to become a leading player at Bayern,” he emphasized. “Especially during his time at Ajax Amsterdam, he showed that he has many qualities and can lead. He has the nature to lead a team,” Alaba continued.
During their respective tenures at Ajax and Bayern, de Ligt and Alaba squared off twice in the 2018/19 Champions League group stages and they have faced each other more than once at the international level for Austria and the Netherlands. It took a while for Alaba to eventually transition from left back to center back, which was a tactical tweak that Hansi Flick wanted to make permanent during his time as Bayern manager. De Ligt has always been a center back, but time will tell how long it will take it to start to supplant one of Hernandez or Upamecano at a starting center back spot. It’s a luxurious problem for Nagelsmann to have with the added depth in defense, especially coming off of a season where depth ran thin at times due to injuries and COVID cases.