The season has got off to a horrid start for Bayern Munich, sitting seventh on the ladder, a remarkable seventeen points behind league leaders, Borrusia Dortmund. Despite a fair home record, they have been severely let down by their away form – winning only one game outside of Allianz Arena – following a devastating two nil loss to Shalke on the weekend. It has become a near inevitability that Bayern will be fighting for only the Deustch Pokal and a Champions League position this season – but some die hard fans still have hope that they can pull off a miracle, and become the first team in the Bundesliga to come back from seventeen points to win the league.
In this article I shall discuss what needs to be done over the winter, if there is to be any hope of such a sensation.
A centre back is needed drastically
Badstuber is soon to make his return from injury – good news for Bayern – however, there remains a gaping hole partnering him in the centre back position. Breno has proven to have the potential to one day be a great centre back, but as of the current moment he, to me, is not up to scratch.
Whilst he has been a solid tackler of the ball (despite letting Raul through for the opener on the weekend), and potent in the air, his distribution of the ball has been horrendous. He never seems to know what to do, and is reluctant to play a simple pass, opting to try a long ball up front to know one in particular. That is, if he is not tackled in the meantime as he takes a long time to decide what to do, and often is tackled in his own half.
This was a vice that heavily affected Bayern against Shalke and potentially could have in the previous games.
Tymoshuk was a very good centre back, but coupled with Van Bommel in the holding midfield position, he could be part of a impenetrable defensive wall – an option wasted if he is forced to play with the full backs due to the dramatic descent from grace of both Van Buyten and Demichellis.
Yes, the dastardly duo, who over the past seasons have been world class in the defence but have recently fell short of standard. Both have become sluggish and cumbersome and continually fail to perform.
So who can be bought in the January transfer season to fill this vacant spot?
While I dislike to speculate, it has been made clear that former Bayern youngsters (now excelling at league leaders, Dortmund), Mats Hummels and Nevad Subotic have expressed a desire to return to European giants Bayern. Bayern fans must hope that this yearning hasn’t been quelled by Dortmund’s brilliant and Bayern’s disastrous season so far.
There are other options that could realistically join the Bayern team, and the German giants definitely have the funding to finance a world class centre back.
A back-up for Robben should be bought
There is no doubt that the injury of Robben has contributed heavily to Bayern’s lacklustre season, but it definitely shouldn’t have. Dutch international, and phenomenon of the previous season in all competitions, Arjen Robben, has had a career plagued with injury. Last season was a testament to the immense skill he has, but there was no surprise when the “Glassman” came back from the World Cup injured.
It seemed the only ones surprised, however, were the Bayern management.
Without Robben until January, and with Ribery injured for the majority of the first half of the season, Luis Van Gaal scrambled to find suitable replacement on his bench. Altintop is a solid player, and performed admirably – but did not provide Bayern with world class quality needed to repeat the success of 2009/10. He certainly did not provide the incredibly amount of goals that Robben did last season.
Bayern can not afford to make such a mistake again, and must be constantly prepared for injury from either Robben or Ribery (who is also rather injury prone). So who could provide such a skill?
In my opinion, Elijero Elia is the perfect option. Not only is he immense in skill, displaying Robben-esque skill, runs and style of play; not only is he attune to the Bundesliga (as he plays for HSV); not only is he extremely affordable; Elijero Elia is also a member of the Netherlands international squad – joined by Robben and Van Bommel from Munich.
The only tribulation Bayern might have in his signing is HSV’s reluctance to release one of their better players to league rivals, Bayern. There has, however, been good relations transfer-wise between the clubs in the past – with many talents migrating from Bayern to Hamburg such as Marcel Jensen and Piotr Trochowski.
He seems the perfect buy.
Bayern must also be prepared for the end of the Gomez fairytale
If there is one person delighted with Bayern’s season so far, it’s Mario Gomez. As early ago as August, Gomez’s career at Bayern after arriving the previous year for a record sum of 30 million euros from Stuttgart was bound to be cut short. He had endured a pitiful debut season and showed few signs of improving this yea
But then came the injury of both Ivica Olic and Miroslav Klose, thrusting “Super Mario” back into Bayern’s starting lineup, and so began his fairytale revival.
It seemed he couldn’t stop scoring a total of 19 goals from all competitions in just 20 appearances.
Unfortunately, the game against Shalke on the weekend highlighted the fact that Gomez is a swingy character – and is inevitably going to slip out of form. Which leaves Bayern with what options up front? Olic and Klose – neither of which have been able to show any goal scoring prowess for Bayern of late.
So what can they do over the winter break?
Highly acclaimed striker, Edin Dzeko is highly speculated to be coming to Bayern in the near future – as he seeks to play football in Europe, something he has not achieved at Wolfsburg. If Bayern can make a Champions League position (as they have always done), coupled by the fact that Uli Hoeness (President of Bayern Munich) is brother to the President of Wolfsburg – it is very likely that Dzeko will move to Bayern in the summer transfer season and not the January one.
This means that signing a high profile striker is not completely necessary for Bayern in the winter, but a quality, young striker that can perform in the Bundesliga, and make useful impacts off the bench on a European level would be a good signing.
There are many different such talents, but one that stands out is Belgian and Anderlecth starlet, Romelu Lukaku. The 17 year old is of immense talent, and often referred to as the “new Drogba”. He has already scored two goals for his international team, and scored an incredible 23 goals from 48 appearances as only a sixteen/seventeen year old in the Belgian Juliper League last season. He is evidently an incredibly young player, who can score goals and has the potential to be one of the worlds best strikers before he’s twenty.
If Van Gaal gets his way and no signings are made, the following team should be fielded upon the commence of the second half of the season.
Diego Contento – Although facing stiff competition from Danijel Pranjic, I still believe that the young starlet that is Contento is a more apt tackler of the ball, despite not being as attackingly apt as Pranjic. With the return of Robben and Ribery, attacking runs from our wing backs aren’t as necessary, but Contento did display dribbling skill in his stint last season which is duly noted.
Holger Badstuber – A revelation from the previous season, Badstuber has never caused any angst among Bayern fans and is a definite starter once he returns from injury.
Breno – If no centre backs are signed, then Breno is Bayern’s next best option. As noted before, he needs to work hard on his distribution and learn that simple is often best.
Phillip Lahm – I have never seen this man play a bad game, and I consider him one of the best wing backs in the world – if not the best. A no brainer.
Arjen Robben – If the Dutch star can stave off any more injuries, the world will hope he continues his incredible form from the previous season – where he single handedly destroyed the defences of Bundesliga and Champions League teams alike.
Anatoliy Tymoshuck – What was once a disgruntled bench warmer, the injuries of multiple key players allowed the Ukrainian international to finally earn multiple starts for Bayern – and boy did he impress. A brick in defence, with solid distribution and a good long shot as displayed against Frankfurt earlier in the season – Tymo has earned himself the love of Munich supporters world wide.
Mark Van-Bommel – The fiery and notorious captain has always been a sure start for Bayern and has shown promise since his recent return from injury.
Frank Ribery – One half of “Robbery”, the world class French international was living in the shadow of Robben last year, but in the previous couple of weeks, since returning from injury has reminded fans of why he is considered so highly amongst the footballing community.
Centre Attacking Midfielder:
Bastian Schweinsteiger – Bastian has, in the previous year, become one of the world’s best midfielders and I feel he would be well used in a free roaming attacking position just behind the striker.
Mario Gomez – As long as his sparkling form lasts, is as long as he deserves a position up front. If his form drops though, expect him to be dropped quickly.
Notice the absence of Muller and Kroos
Muller is a brilliant talent, but Gomez has forced him out of this starting line up based on form only. As mentioned, expect Muller to quickly replace Gomez when the tall Spanish born German international drops in form. Until then he can make many appearances off the bench, replacing either of the wingers, Schweisteiger or Gomez – such is the incredible versatility of the twenty one year old.
Kroos is still young, and will most definitely reach a first team level in the future, but until then he is outclassed by too many players – and has been struggling so far this season.
This sums up my opinions on what Bayern need to do over the winter. Ideally, the would buy lure Messi from Barcelona and snatch Vidic from Manchester but I have tried to keep my suggestions realistic and well within the realms of Bayern’s prestige and financial capabilities.
Be well aware, that even if all of these were implemented, it will still take quite the miracle for Bayern to catch Dortmund – including a huge drop in Dortmund’s form – but you can only hope.