Having already graded the defenders, it’s time to look at the midfield. Bayern Munich had its fair share of midfield woes this season, with controversy surrounding the acquisition of a so-called “holding six” or true defensive midfielder in the summer. João Palhinha’s transfer from Fulham FC fell through at the last minute, while the sale of Ryan Gravenberch to Liverpool and Marcel Sabitzer to Borussia Dortmund left the Bavarians dangerously thin in terms of depth.
That is why this section will be noticeably shorter than other parts of the series, as there are simply fewer players to look at. Here’s a look at how they fared.
In case you missed it, check out Part 1 of our series right here.
Minutes played: 1,542
All throughout the Hinrunde, Joshua Kimmich gave the impression of a man desperately trying to keep his head above the water. The loud, confident, combative midfielder of yesteryear has been replaced by a shattered wreck devoid of confidence or quality — to the point that some fans see Kimmich as the root cause of everything wrong with Bayern Munich at the moment.
Mistakes have taken over his game — Joshua Kimmich seems unable to dictate the tempo or find the same line-breaking passes that he used to. His press resistance has taken a sharp nosedive, to the point that he is sometimes a liability in possession, especially when facing his own goal. His set pieces remain hit-or-miss, sparking criticism from even the mainstream German media. His very identity as a “Number Six” has been questioned.
Coinciding with his decline in performance, there has been a marked change in Kimmich’s role as a leader at Bayern Munich, both on and off the field. He’s no longer the man to rally his teammates on the pitch, he no longer does the tough press conferences after losses and draws. This uncharacteristic meekness from Kimmich has been catastrophic for Bayern’s on-field cohesion, as it deprives the team of one of its mental keystones.
In some way, the fans are right — what’s wrong with Kimmich IS what’s wrong with Bayern Munich. The question is, why did a player of Kimmich’s quality and consistency decline so much during this Hinrunde? The answer might be somewhat controversial.
Minutes played: 324
Pavlović did not play enough minutes to earn a proper rating, but the little we did see of the teenager was extremely promising. Pavlović could potentially blossom into the DM that Bayern Munich is looking for, and maybe become a genuine alternative to Joshua Kimmich in the role. Of course the Wolfsburg game at the end of the Hinrunde showed that he has his limitations — but there’s so much scope for development if he keeps getting chances.
Minutes played: 1,219
It’s hard to give Leon Goretzka a score higher than 6.5 because he was honestly quite mediocre. The only reason he gets a 7 is because a 6.7 was off the cards. Really, Goretzka is the same exact player he has always been, it’s just that the team rarely seems to play to his strengths. Kimmich’s decline also hurts Goretzka, as the two were traditionally a duo greater than the sum of its parts.
Minutes played: 1,554
Konrad Laimer probably didn’t play enough games to warrant a proper rating as a midfielder, but frankly ... it doesn’t matter. The former Leipzig man is doing the Sabitzer routine all over again. Laimer outside of the Red Bull style gegenpressing system looks average at best, and he doesn’t really offer anything that Leon Goretzka can’t do better.
As a fullback, Laimer has been a decent depth option for Bayern Munich. As a midfielder, he’s been very disappointing. Then again, he still plays well for Austria, so maybe the problem is elsewhere.
Minutes played: 392
Raphaël Guerreiro played the overwhelming majority of his minutes as a midfielder, which isn’t that many minutes all things considered. Aside from the game against Stuttgart (where he was actually solid) Guerreiro did just about enough to make up the numbers. Really, it’s an indictment of the squad planning that Guerreiro, a fullback by trade, had to play midfield at all, let alone repeatedly.
Overall Midfield Score: 3/10
This Hinrunde saw one of the worst Bayern Munich midfields in recent memory. Even calling it “mediocre” would be an understatement. Much of the blame has to go to the board, who sold Marcel Sabitzer and Ryan Gravenberch without signing any replacements. The last-minute failure of the Palhinha transfer was also a hard pill to swallow.
Still, Bayern Munich should not be struggling so much with the talent on the roster. If Kimmich, Goretzka, and Laimer had spent most of the season unfit, then you could put your hands up and blame the lack of options. However, they all participated in some of Bayern’s worst midfield performances in recent memory.
These are all quality players — why should they be struggling this much? Before Bayern Munich go out and spend millions of euros on a brand new set of midfielders, they should maybe give that question a bit more thought.
Do you agree with the ratings? Stay tuned for Part 3, where we rate the whole offense!