Matthijs de Ligt was awarded his second competitive start of the season in Bayern Munich’s 5-0 win over Viktoria Köln in the first round of the DFB-Pokal and he put in another solid performance, following up on his second half cameo in the 1-1 draw with Borussia Mönchengladbach. He very nearly scored a volley in that match, but Gladbach’s Yann Sommer was in impeccable form on the night, setting a Bundesliga record for saves in a single match (20).
Despite only having two Bayern starts under his belt, there is an expectation that De Ligt will eventually start getting more minutes from Julian Nagelsmann in the back line, and rotations will be necessary with the number of English Weeks between now and the winter break for the World Cup in Qatar. Alongside Sadio Mané from Liverpool, he was Bayern’s marquee signing of the summer transfer window and, with a €67 million transfer fee, there is a great deal of expectation on his shoulders, following what was largely a considered to be an underwhelming spell at Juventus.
De Ligt recently spoke with Bayern club magazine Säbener51 (as captured by @iMiaSanMia) about the culture at the club and how it’s both different and similar to what he’s experienced at Ajax and Juventus in the past.
“It’s important to know the DNA of a club. Juventus have a very different culture from Ajax, that was also very interesting,” the towering center back explained. “And now I’m at Bayern, one of the biggest clubs in the world with an incredible history. I’m excited to learn and live Bayern’s philosophy.”
De Ligt hasn’t shown any signs of difficulties integrating with the rest of the squad and demonstrated incredible commitment with the amount of travelling he did in a very short window to be able to meetup with the squad in their United States preseason tour just hours after officially completing his move from Juventus.
There’s a handful of names, past and present, that are synonymous with Bayern DNA. Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer, and Joshua Kimmich are three long-standing veterans, each of whom embodies what it means to be a Bayern player on and off the pitch. In the recent past, legends like Bastian Schweinsteiger and Phillip Lahm come to mind.
De Ligt breaks down the Bayern DNA into a few different categories. “For me, FC Bayern’s DNA means discipline, hard work and wins. I see these three core values when I look at FC Bayern on the pitch. Off the pitch, the club stands for a large family, tradition and social responsibility,” he explained.
De Ligt became club captain at Ajax at just 19 years of age, so he was thrust into the spotlight early on and led his club on a sensational 2019 run all the way to the Champions League semi-finals, where they eventually lost in dramatic fashion to Tottenham in Amsterdam. For him, that campaign was instrumental to his growth both as a player and as a leader. And at Bayern, he hopes to find his next seminal moment.
“There are some parallels to Ajax on the pitch: both clubs always want to play offensively, with Bayern being even more disciplined,” he said. “I watched the club on TV when Arjen Robben and Mark van Bommel got to the Champions League final under Louis van Gaal in 2010.
“And in 2013, when Bayern won the Champions League [over Borussia Dortmund] under Jupp Heynckes. And when they played fantastic football under Pep Guardiola. The victory in the Champions League 2020 [over PSG, under Hansi Flick] was also spectacular.”
Looking back, De Ligt said he’s always been fond of the brand of football at Bayern. Of course, different managers throughout the years have added their own flavors and interpretations of the brand, but there are consistencies, too — in terms of being possession-based, disciplined off the ball, and lethal in front of goal.
“I appreciate the way the game is played here and the way they see football. It has been a pleasure to watch Bayern for many years,” De Ligt said.