Tuchel: Tactics and the Squad

Like it or not, Julian Nagelsmann has been replaced by Thomas Tuchel. Let's take a look at what Tuchel will bring to the table tactically, and what it means for the future of the Bayern squad. For the purposes of this article, we will be taking a look at only Tuchel's spells at Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea, and ignoring his time at PSG and Mainz.

At Borussia Dortmund, Tuchel primarily used variants of the 4-2-3-1 in his first season, while switching about equally between those variants and a combination of the 3-4-3, 3-5-2, and 4-1-3-2 formations in his second and final season at BVB. At Chelsea, Tuchel mainly used the 3-4-3 and variants, with occasional uses of the 3-5-2, 4-4-2, and 4-2-3-1 formations (or their variants) becoming more popular after his first few months in charge. While past performance is no indicator of the future, it seems reasonable to assume that, for now at least, Tuchel is willing to continue the 3-back revolution at Bayern Munich. (all formations according to, all lineups created below using

What will this look like, however? It is relatively easy to imagine what a 4-back, 1-striker formation would look like under Tuchel:


A potential 4-2-3-1 lineup that Thomas Tuchel could opt for.

Likewise, it is also easy to picture a Tuchel lineup with the 3-4-3 or 5-2-3 type of setups:


A potential 3-4-3 lineup Tuchel could use at Bayern Munich.

However, if Tuchel opts for a more creative formation choice, things could get interesting:


A potential 3-5-2 lineup that Thomas Tuchel could use.


Things could get really weird, really fast if Tuchel opts for a 4-back, 2-striker approach.

Overall, there are worse problems to have than some of these formations. Looking forward, however, paints a different picture. Namely, what is Tuchel going to do after the season ends? Will the tactical revolution continue, or will it take a different twist? The answer could lie in the fact that Tuchel had greater deviation from the "traditional" Bayern look inspired by the work of Louis van Gaal in his second season at Dortmund, and likewise he departed more often from the 3-4-3 after his first summer at Chelsea. Overall, this suggests that, if afforded time and transfer budget, Tuchel may look to implement a 3-5-2 formation at Bayern Munich as well.

Such a drastic shift will require changes to the squad, potentially resulting in changes at Bayern Munich. For starters, Yann Sommer has acquitted himself well in his first few months at Bayern. This, however, has created a logjam that will arrive when Manuel Neuer returns from injury. Assuming that Neuer does not opt to retire, the odd man out is more than likely to be Sven Ulreich, something that would still have been true if Nagelsmann remained in charge. Alex Nübel, meanwhile, should continue to be loaned out until he is ready to start ahead of Neuer or (more likely in my opinion) Sommer. If Nübel decides to leave, however, reserve goalkeepers Johannes Schenk and Lukas Schneller should be given opportunities to impress, likely on loan, before Bayern looks elsewhere.

Moving into defense, a 3-back-based system will require four starting caliber center-backs, meaning that Lucas Hernández, Dayot Upamecano, Mattihjs De Ligt, and Benjamin Pavard should all be retained. It would be prudent, however, to begin considering whether or not Hernández is worth his wages considering his tendency to be injury-prone. While a useful backup, Daley Blind has not proven to be of the required standard and should be moved on in the summer. At the wingback positions, Davies and Mazraoui should absolutely be kept; as should Josip Stanišić, who is also capable of playing the role Blind currently fills in the side. João Cancelo, while an interesting experiment, may not fit the system and his loan should not be made permanent. The less said about Bouna Sarr, the better; as long as he is sticking around, maybe he will be useful in an emergency.

Now to focus on central midfield. Leon Goretzka's off-ball contributions make him integral to how the side functions. Contrary to some people, however, I have conflicting opinions on Joshua Kimmich. I question whether or not the "Mentality Monster" is really what Bayern needs in central midfield. Specifically, there are concerns over his tendency to press high up the pitch, despite being tasked with the duties of a number six when Bayern is defending, which sometimes results in the defense being exposed. In Kimmich's absence, Goretzka has shown an ability to play as a more prototypical number six, suggesting that he may not truly be needed. Considering his attitude on playing time, Gravenberch should possibly be moved on from as well. If both Kimmich and Gravenberch were to be sold, Marcel Sabitzer should be given another opportunity to impress, and Paul Wanner would likely be given more opportunities as well. If Sabitzer moves to Manchester United on a permanent basis, Konrad Laimer would be the next man up, assuming his transfer from RBL gets confirmed.

Attacking midfield is another potentially controversial section of the squad. A 3-5-2, notably, has no wingers at all, obtaining its width from the wing-backs marauding up the touchline. Kingsley Coman has proven to be a fine wing-back in his appearances at that position. Serge Gnabry...less so. Considering that he has been less than effective at any position besides winger, Gnabry should be sold if Tuchel adopts the 3-5-2. Leroy Sané, however, should be kept as he has played as a number 10 effectively, and offers an additional option if Tuchel decides to play with a different formation every now and then. Jamal Musiala should be starting most games at this point. In a 3-5-2, that leaves Thomas Müller as an odd man out. While he remains one of, if not the, most intelligent players the game has ever seen, he has barely been able to get touches. He is currently tied with the likes of Danny da Costa for 202nd in the league in duels won, suggesting his pressing ability has begun to deteriorate. As the elder statesman and one of my favorite players of all time, he will always be welcome at Bayern, however it does not appear as if there currently should be a constant place in the starting XI afforded to him.

Finally, the attack. Choupo-Moting's purple patch continues to secure his place in the side, while Sadio Mané would be most likely to start alongside him — Mané is not an out-and-out center forward like Choupo or Lewandowski, but perhaps he will be more successful with a strike partner.

So overall, there could be massive changes at Bayern Munich incoming. Tuchel has gravitated towards three at the back, two up front formations in the black and yellow of Dortmund and in the blue of Chelsea. A lineup in this formation from next season could look something like this:

3-5-2 (

A hypothetical 3-5-2 formation from the upcoming season. In this specific XI, Kingsley Coman would take the armband.

If you made it this far, thank you for listening to my slightly unhinged rant!

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