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BFW Roundtable: How has Thomas Tuchel's Bayern Munich performed in the Hinrunde?

The BFW staff analyses Bayern's performances in the first half of the season under Thomas Tuchel and delivers their verdict on the Deutsche Maestro.

VfL Wolfsburg v FC Bayern München - Bundesliga Photo by Marvin Ibo Guengoer - GES Sportfoto/Getty Images

Bayern Munich's head coach Thomas Tuchel has not had the smoothest of starts to the season. As a result, many have criticized the coach while others have taken on the players.

It's now the winter pause, and while it still is not enough time to pass a solid judgment on Tuchel's tenure, the BFW staff takes to the task and attempts to deliver their analysis of Thomas Tuchel's Bayern Munich.

Dasher — 8/10

When assessing a coach's performance, a plethora of factors come into play. Squad depth, tactics, results, the club & fans' expectations - amongst others.

Squad depth at Bayern is at an all-time low. There have been matches this season where Bayern's squad included a meager 5 substitutes — of which some players were called up to the senior team for the first time. This, along with players (most particularly in midfield) that do not suit Tuchel's vision and what he wants to do with the team, it's a pathetic situation.

Tactically, I've picked apart quite a few of Bayern's games (granted, they are mostly those where we played well: United, Freiburg, Stuttgart). There are quite clearly ideas based on keeping control, and fluidity, and there's a sustainable system. There are limited problems tactically, the major one being falling apart against teams that press with a structure. This flaw is the key reason why Bayern have faltered this season. This is less of a tactical issue rather more of a personnel problem, as Bayern's midfielders are clearly not resistant to press. When the midfield is giving away the ball, misplacing passes, and giving in to pressure, it becomes difficult to start any sort of attack - even from the back. But it is still something Tuchel has to focus on.

Another criticism of Tuchel's tactics is the supposed boring playstyle, but games, where Bayern have full control of the game, will — quite obviously — end up being 'boring'. “Oh, but where was the control against Frankfurt?”— there wasn't and it was quite clear an end-to-end game. The same goes for other games where Bayern failed to establish control — largely because of the opposition's strong press (as already discussed above).

Positively, Tuchel's ability to change and influence the course of games is second to almost none. He's able to get a result in games that seem hopeless — something that was a big problem after the 2022 World Cup and before this season.

I do not put much weight on rumors, reports and noise around the team, which is why I haven’t discussed the same. Everything ranging supposed from friction between the coach and player to alleged transfer requests or wanting to sell players is only what we, the outsiders know. It rarely ever reflects what’s truly happening within the team, which is why it seems pointless to judge a coach based on such factors. Above all, results matter most.

Results and expectations go hand in hand. When we take a look at the results as a whole, it is undoubtedly a very strong first half of a season for most teams. But it's different when we consider the expectations at FC Bayern. Results such as the FC Saarbrücken or Eintracht Frankfurt games are a terrible look, and even despite record-breaking starts, there was quite a bit left to be desired. Simply put, the Hinrunde was not up to Bayern's standards, largely because of these bitter results sprinkled across relatively good games. Leverkusen has also managed to better us at almost every turn.

At the same time, neither is the squad up to Bayern's standards. With what Tuchel has, he has done a pretty good job — dare I say brilliant.

That does not mean he (Tuchel) is devoid of criticism. There have been games where the coach is at fault, but for the most part, people quickly begin to crucify the coach every time things get dark without much criticism going to the players — which is wrong. I've already voiced my opinion about this earlier, and it still stands.

All in all, I think Tuchel has been pretty good. It's too early to form any sort of opinion on Tuchel or his tenure so far, but I think the pressure to perform truly begins after the winter pause, once he's (hopefully) granted his choice of players and the games become more and more important. The end of the Rückrunde is when we can really take a look and decide whether he needs to stay or go, but as of now, there is little reason to fire (or do anything to) him.

Chuck — 7/10

Thomas Tuchel has gotten results. No one can deny that.

Bayern Munich swept its way through its Champions League group and is currently sitting in second place of the Bundesliga with just one loss in the league during the Hinrunde.

Because I am a dork, I put a lot of weight in the DFB-Pokal. Losing that was inexcusable. While I don’t knock him too much for the DFL-Supercup loss (the Harry Kane hysteria had run amok), it still was an indicator that he did not have a handle on the squad at that stage (truthfully, I am not sure he still has a great feel for player management with Bayern Munich).

Things have gotten better, but there are some things that are majorly concerning: His handling of key players (particularly with some of his comments through the media) and his willingness to ignore rotating more. It also feels like he does not have a great read on how to use his roster most efficiently or value some of the players that he has.

There is also a lot of risk with how he has handled players like Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, and Matthijs de Ligt. Tuchel dodged a bullet with Thomas Müller silently riding his way to a new deal, while sitting the bench. However, the mismanagement of personnel — especially key team leaders — could have an adverse effect on things if the team starts to drop games.

Regardless of any of that, Tuchel has won — which is the most important thing — so he gets a 7.

The second half of the season could go a lot of different ways. Bayern Munich could just as easily knock off Real Madrid or Manchester City in the Champions League finale, as they could wind up trophy-less. I don’t love Tuchel as Bayern Munich’s coach...I can’t hide that. It just does not feel like it is going to lead into a Champions League crown with him and there could be a lot of turmoil along the way.

I am hoping to be wrong about those things.

Ineednoname — 4/10

It’s difficult to see how Thomas Tuchel deserves anything more than a 4/10 for the Hinrunde he has overseen. The DFL Supercup was a disaster, the treble was squandered in record time. Bayern Munich huffed and puffed in the Champions League, avoiding near-disaster against a fragile Manchester United, getting extremely lucky against Galatasaray, and barely edging out Copenhagen. And finally, the club sits in second place in the Bundesliga, despite fielding a squad that puts every other team in the league to shame.

Tuchel hasn’t done everything badly, otherwise he wouldn’t even deserve a 4. His handling of younger talents has been remarkably superior to that of his predecessor, and he has somehow found the key to unlocking the potential of Leroy Sané. However, that’s practically all he’s done. You could count the number of good games Bayern Munich have played this season on a single hand, and still have fingers left over.

Yes, Bayern under Tuchel won more often than not — but is that where the standard has been set? Did the club spend a hundred million euros on Harry Kane to end up with a 75% win rate? To end up knocked out of the Pokal by a 3rd division side? To draw Copenhagen at home and get picked apart by Frankfurt?

Surely not. And a lot of the team’s failures come down squarely on the coach. Alienating key stars, benching Thomas Müller, fielding odd lineups (Choupo-Moting at attacking midfield comes to mind) — if the coach doing this was named Niko Kovac, the fanbase would be ripping him apart and deservedly so.

zippy86 — 8/10

Tuchel’s Bayern has gelled and improved in the first full year of his reign. His brand of football is starting to take shape, and his handling of numerous off-field distractions has been composed and capable. That said, he has not cured the squad of all its ills — inconsistent performances, tepid motivation against some lesser sides, and less strong mentality than he is clearly trying to instill. His apparent desire to reshape the squad looms like the sword of Damocles, which is probably also hanging over his own head.

Which returns us to the board that hired him, and may one day sack him. In doing so Bayern pressed the reset button on an already strong team and it has taken time just to steady the ship again. Have they learned their lesson from that, or are more resets on their way?

Grumpy Opa — 6.5/10

Ask me to write this a few months ago and this rating most certainly would’ve been lower. The lackluster performances at the end of last season and Tuchel's leadership of Bayern in the Champions League had part of me wanting Tuchel out in just as shocking a fashion as he was brought in, although I was happy to give him another chance in the new season given that he was brought in at a tough time.

I was once again down on Tuchel after an abysmal showing in the Supercup. Despite it being nothing more than a glorified friendly, the match was not a sign of good things to come. The season began and Bayern seemed to scrape their way through matches without the same sort of dominance the team displayed under previous coaches like Hansi Flick.

While I was generally unhappy with Tuchel due to the high amount of uninspired performances and his dropping of Matthijs de Ligt and Thomas Müller (I’ll recognize my Müller bias but I refuse to avoid using this as a point against Tuchel) it wasn’t until the Saarbrücken match that I was certain I wanted him out. The injuries and limited personnel combined with a soaked pitch and poor playing conditions provide an excuse for the loss, but not one that’s good enough when you remember that this is Bayern Munich playing a fourth-tier side and Harry Kane was left on the bench for the entire match. There is no valid excuse for not winning this game.

In the Champions League Bayern has been fine, but making Galatasaray, who failed to qualify for the next round ahead of Copenhagen, look like Manchester City is simply unacceptable.

In the Bundesliga, Bayern has been good, but Tuchel not having been able to beat big teams in Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen and losing 5-1 to Frankfurt worries me a little. However, the superior xG against all three teams and the fact that both of Leverkusen’s goals came from a direct free kick and penalty prevents me from criticizing Tuchel too much for these results.

The most recent Bayern performances and the way Tuchel has navigated the lack of squad depth are positives and give me hope for the future assuming Bayern fixes their depth issues over the January transfer window.

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