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Julian Nagelsmann: Bayern Munich’s Lucas Hernández is a “tackling monster”

Hernández is not the kind of CB opposition attackers relish facing on gameday. That’s exactly why the Bayern head coach loves having him in his own ranks.

Hernandez falls over the ball as he jostles with Wolfsburg’s Omar Marmoush in front of goal; Neuer, Upamecano, and Lukas Nmecha are all on the ground.
Hernández does everything to make sure the ball doesn’t fall into a danger area for Wolfsburg to tap into the net.
Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann has an incredible set of center-backs at his disposal this year, and took some time out in Friday’s pre-game presser (as captured by @iMiaSanMia) to rave about Lucas Hernández — a stalwart on the back line, and Bayern’s own master of the dark arts of the defensive game.

“I like him very much,” Nagelsmann said of his starting left center-back. “He’s a tackling monster on the pitch and also played very good passes in the opening game. He did that very well alongside Upa [center-back Dayot Upamecano].”

Lucas is perhaps not as revered for his distribution work as other ball-playing center-backs, but by stats, he’s actually perhaps not so bad. Over the last 365 days, via StatsBomb/fbref, Hernández rates 99th percentile among center-backs for progressive passes made, 99th for passes attempted, 98th for progressive carries, and 90th for shot-creating actions.

Some of those figures, especially carries, might drop if he’s held in reserve more this season, but still show the ability he has to contribute to a system that involves him in build-up. And from what we’ve seen so far, center-backs finding lines-breaking vertical passes are still a big part of Bayern’s game this year.

Of course, we know Lucas best as a scrappy defender with the best of them — someone who’ll make no bones about cynically taking down his man if he’s beat and saving his team from a goal. It’s how he conceded a free kick and earned a yellow card early in the Wolfsburg game. It’s the kind of grit and determination you need in the back line, particularly if you want to play aggressively up front — as Nagelsmann assuredly does.

But, Nagelsmann reminded, on-field demeanor isn’t quite the same as off. “He’s also a very nice guy in private. It’s not like he walks around with a knife between his teeth.”

Those who only know him from his challenges on the pitch on matchdays might beg to differ.

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