Faced with their toughest stretch of the Rückrunde, Bayern dropped just two points as they cast aside their domestic and European opponents with ease. They are once again back where they belong: one of the dominant sides in Europe that is destined for greatness.
Pep Guardiola has configured an adaptable setup that can weather adversity thrown at them. The gaffer has lost some key talents in the past month, but also has regained some of his world class players that he can toy with. Thus, it is time for the Bavarian Football Works crew to toy with another set of squad rankings.
Here is our list of the top players in the squad, taking the subjectivity of many and objectifying it in the aggregate:
= rank increase
= rank decrease
"–" = not ranked
With all the change through injury and rotation, one constant as remained the same: Der Kapitain, Philipp Lahm. His intelligence reigns supreme on the field even though he may have lost a step. His move centrally may not have come with approval, but it is a role that he continues to thrive in. He is the plaster that seals the cracks in Bayern's hull when it hits a reef, a mantel he has held for several years. He will be one of the first names of Guardiola's team sheet as he continues to scoff at father time.
After a season of adjustments, Götze has started his second Bayern campaign with more flair. Playing behind his former Dortmund teammate once again, he shares the Bundesliga lead in goals with six, part of a nine goal outburst to start the 2014/15 season. The gloomy part to his production is that it might get buried behind Franck Ribéry's and Arjen Robben's returns to fitness. The depth situation Guardiola faces once again will iron itself out, and hopefully Götze has already done enough to secure his spot in the starting XI.
Franck Ribéry (Cowper's Rank: 12 | Aggregate: 7): His return is important, but perhaps overstatedly so. While Ribery was clearly one of Europe's best players even just a year ago, his injury issues have caused Bayern to adapt to life without him. Götze, Müller, and Shaqiri have all been adequate replacements for him, while his absence has caused Guardiola to lean heavily on Robben to be the squad's dynamic talisman. However, the return of Ribéry is not without it's effects. His ability to spell Götze drops the German's importance in the squad a little, while Shaqiri becomes just little more than a curiosity unfortunately. Until such a time as Ribery can demonstrate an ability to stay healthy and be a potent offensive force, he will probably remain in the lower half of my squad rankings.
Claudio Pizarro (Quinn's Rank: 15 | Aggregate: 19): It may just be my eternal love for Pizarro, but I still feel that he is going to be an important player for this team during the season. These rankings are always tough to determine where to rank injured players. If everyone is 100% healthy, I probably drop Pizarro down to around 20. However, until a full squad is available (And, yes, I know he's currently injured.), I am going to keep Pizzaro around 15. However, I say that now, and when the winter break begins, I could drop him out of my top 20.
Xabi Alonso (Rudnik's Rank: 10 | Aggregate: 3): He is a gifted player, and a handsome devil. His transfer to Bayern was probably as surprising as his immediate impact on the team was, and he was truly one of the most important players in the lineup, especially with the club battling so many injuries to key players in midfield. However, over the last few weeks, his effectiveness has diminished a tad, with opponents starting to shadow him in the midfield, thereby not allowing him unfettered access to the middle of the field. That in itself has allowed some of the other players more freedom, and guys like David Alaba (until his injury) and Phillip Lahm have seen some space open up. Alonso is still very effective and important, but just not on the same level as he was when he first joined the club (but still a handsome devil).
David Alaba (VanOpdorp's Rank: N/A | Aggregate: 9): No doubt that Alaba's contributions to the squad has been a revelation, both to his role in the team and to Bayern's setup. He looked a lock in Guardiola's schemes until his MCL strain against AS Roma. Knee surgeries, in its nature, are an invasive procedure, one that the knee needs at least four months to recover before Alaba can even start running again. The "several weeks" timeline is a hopeful prognosis that rarely comes true. A more realistic one is that he will not come back this season, a sad end to what was a terrific display.
The injury to Alaba does not have a simple solution, but it is one that Bayern's depth is prepared for. There is no telling what Guardiola will do to overcome Alaba's absence, but the gaffer has several holding midfielders that can step in and fill the void should. Two of them include Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Sebastian Rode, who have occupied the team sheet all season and share a rank this month. Neither can replicate the production Alaba brought to the field, but both can play the role that Alaba was tasked with. The two have bided their time, and finally their wait for minutes could be over, but all this hope could be for not once Bastian Schweinsteiger returns to fitness.