With the Hinrunde done and dusted, Bayern Munich can look back on tumultuous half-season of football. While qualification to the Champions League knockouts was secured without much drama, the Bavarians got knocked out of the DFB Pokal in a shock defeat to 3rd tier side Saarbrücken, and in the Bundesliga the team currently sits in 2nd place, four points behind Bayer Leverkusen (with a game in hand).
In this series, we’ll take a look at each individual player (divided by position) and assign them a grade based on their performance. How did they perform? To begin, let’s take a look at the defense.
Minutes played: 1,080
Clean Sheets: 3
Goals conceded: 15
It is difficult being a stand-in for the greatest keeper of all time, but Sven Ulreich does the job well. Conceding 15 goals in 12 games is a rough statistic, but it says more about Bayern’s defense than Sven’s outings between the sticks. His performance was adequate — no huge mistakes, no superlative saves. “Good enough” is all you can demand from your second choice goalkeeper, and Sven Ulreich meets that criteria without complaint.
Minutes played: 90
Clean Sheets: 1
Goals conceded: 0
Israeli goalkeeper Daniel Peretz was signed as an emergency replacement to Yann Sommer after the latter moved to Inter Milan in the summer. His sole game in the cup came with a clean sheet, but he hasn’t had a single chance since. It’s hard to evaluate a player who’s only played one game — the club should send him out on loan to get game time, like they did (and still do) with Alexander Nübel.
Minutes played: 901
Clean Sheets: 6
Goals conceded: 11
Regardless of what you think about Manuel Neuer’s off-season habits, his comeback has been nothing short of remarkable. At age thirty-seven, he remains a top quality keeper — inarguably one of the top five in Europe — and one of the few at his position who can do it all. Shot stopping, sweeper keeping, distribution, you name it — Manuel Neuer has no weaknesses.
Minutes played: 1,259
Mazraoui had an enigmatic Hinrunde — it is difficult to measure his true impact on the pitch because Tuchel’s system struggles to make use of his talent. He is clearly the best right-back Bayern have, but much of his skillset remains underutilized as he never seems to play the inverted fullback role he often enjoyed under Nagelsmann. Mazraoui has all the qualities of a great midfielder compressed into a fullback’s profile — Tuchel could stand to use him better.
Minutes played: 204
Bouna Sarr barely played before an ACL tear cut his season short. It would hardly be fair to give him a rating based on that.
Minutes played: 195
20-year-old Frans Krätzig looked like he was going to be one of the breakthroughs of the season under Tuchel, but a horrible showing versus Saarbrücken in the DFB-Pokal has seen him relegated to the bench ever since. Like Peretz, he needs game time — a winter loan would do him some good.
Minutes played: 392
It would be tough to comment on Guerreiro’s impact as a defender since he spent most of his scant minutes this season playing as a midfielder. The former Borussia Dortmund man only played 45 minutes at left-back this season, replacing Alphonso Davies during Bayern’s disastrous loss to Eintracht Frankfurt in early December. That’s not enough time to earn him a fair rating.
Minutes played: 1,554
Despite being a midfielder and signed to play in midfield, Konrad Laimer has mostly found himself filling in at right-back this season. It’s a tough situation for the former RB Leipzig man — he’s clearly unsuited to the defensive side of the game as a fullback. His performances are a reflection of his “fish out of water” situation rather than his quality as a footballer.
Minutes played: 1,779
This was a mediocre Hinrunde for Alphonso Davies — probably his worst half-season performance yet. With his contract situation unresolved and Real Madrid prowling from the sidelines, there have been calls from fans to cash-in on the Canadian and go shopping for a new left-back in the summer. If Davies’ long slump continues, those calls will only get louder.
Matthijs de Ligt
Minutes played: 436
Matthijs de Ligt barely played all season. The main reason cited was injuries, but there have been rumors that Thomas Tuchel doesn’t rate the defender because of his passing deficiencies — whatever that means. In any case, De Ligt doesn’t meet the minimum 500 minutes threshold to get a fair rating, but he was more than solid when called upon.
Minutes played: 1,815
Signed from Napoli this summer to replace the departing Lucas Hernandez, Kim Min-jae has been a rock at the center of the Bayern defense. That doesn’t mean he’s been flawless — in fact, the big Korean has sometimes struggled with passing out from the back, and it took him time to adjust to pace of the game in German football.
However, you have to give points for sheer availability. Kim joined Bayern after serving military service in South Korea, and immediately went into preseason without a rest. He has played almost every single game without rest and practically never gets subbed off either. Compared to Lucas, Kim has been practically bulletproof.
He will be sorely missed during the Asian Cup.
Minutes played: 1,486
Dayot Upamecano is perhaps the most underrated player at Bayern Munich right now. People who don’t watch this team will only remember his high profile mistakes against Manchester City, but Upa is generally a consistent defender and the mistakes are a huge outlier. His presence is crucial to the way Bayern Munich play football, as he pulls double duty as a defender and a midfielder, doing more to progress the ball than the actual midfielders at times.
Like Harry Kane and Manuel Neuer, Dayot Upamecano is one of the first names on Bayern’s team sheet right now. For all their quality, De Ligt and Kim are competing for the 2nd choice spot behind the Frenchman.
Overall Defensive Score: 6.5/10
The defense wasn’t terrible — but it wasn’t amazing either. The question is, who do you blame? The defenders are the obvious scapegoat, but you can easily point fingers at the midfield and the coaching staff as well.
Two games exemplify the issue. Against Frankfurt, Bayern Munich were completely undone, leading to five goals being conceded. Against Stuttgart a week later, a different system was employed, causing the free-scoring Swabians to get shut out completely. Even Serhou Guirassy, competing for the Torjägerkanone with Harry Kane, looked utterly helpless to do anything.
Both games saw contrasting performances from the defenders themselves, but was it the players who made the performance happen, or the system? If it was the former, then Bayern Munich need to go into the January transfer window and sign some new defenders. If it was latter, then Thomas Tuchel should bear the brunt of the responsibility.
Or maybe it’s more complicated than that — the answer could be somewhere in the middle.
Do you agree with the ratings? Stay tuned for Part 2, where we rate all the midfielders!