Luis Kircher, match analyst at Bayern Munich, discusses life in the talent scouting and analysis department at one of the game’s most successful clubs and which talents to watch out for in the next years from the Bayern academy. Why Harry Kane could be the one to replace Lewandowski, Borussia Dortmund’s challenge to regain the initiative in the league and why Naby Keita could be a game-changer for Dortmund. Plus why Hoffenheim’s Tom Bischof should be on every Bundesliga fan’s radar plus much more including why the South Americans have the advantage at Qatar 2022
BM: I’m here with Luis Kircher of FC Bayern Munich’s analysis department and we’re at the World Football Summit. Nice to meet with you Luis, what are the main aspects of the work you get involved in?
Thank you for having me, our function is analysing matches. We prepare and follow up matches. On the one hand, we present detailed analysis of forthcoming opponents. On the other hand, we provide feedback on future opponents, including coaching strategy, and at an individual player level. We work very closely with the players and support the coaching staff across the club to prepare for matches and develop players.
Was it always your intention to work in football?
Yes, definitely. In my childhood, I always wanted to become a professional football player. I think it is the dream of nearly every young player, raised in Germany, I early learned about the business side of football and started looking for studies in sports management. Right now, alongside my career I am completing my football management studies at the Hochschule für angewandtes Management in Southern Germany, in cooperation with the International Football Institute, working in match analysis allows me to implement a lot of what I learn.
Bayern are one of the most admired clubs in world football and a lot of fans would like to understand, what it’s like working there, what does your average day look like?
There are clear routines. One week before the match, we analyse matches from the opponent. Not only the last matches, but also matches against clubs that have a similar playing style to us. We will analyse them with a focus on their set pieces and routines like attacking phase, defensive phase and transitions. We’ll share those with the coaching staff so they can prepare how they want to set up the team. We also do individual analysis to provide our players video analysis on opponents. The main goal is that our players can focus on their individual opponents. Each of the players gets a short video of their respective opponent to be prepared tactically. After the game we do post-match analysis and show the players areas for improvement. It’s an all-round analytical approach.
Have you met many of the senior players at Bayern? Which of the players are most personable?
From the first team of Bayern, Thomas Müller is the funniest player. He always makes jokes and is an all-round really good guy. Jamal Musiala is also very down to earth and personable as well.
Jamal was born in Stuttgart, but played for years with Chelsea academy, does Jamal speak German with an English accent?
He actually does. I’m from the same town, Fulda, where he started to play football at TSV Lehnerz. Since he’s nearly my age, I played football against him in childhood. It’s special to see again and playing for a club like Bayern Munich.
Some fans here in England are not so happy that Jamal turned his back on the England national team, do you think it’s right that Jamal plays for Germany instead of England?
From a German point of view, I liked this decision obviously. But he could have also decided for England without any issue. I think it was a tricky decision for him. He was born in Germany, and so it’s totally understandable he chose to represent Germany.
After 10 titles in a row, a lot of observers and fans of the Bundesliga find Bayern Munich too dominant in the Bundesliga, does it concern the decision makers at Bayern that their dominance is making the Bundesliga uncompetitive, and less interesting, especially for fans abroad?
Not really. In football, the goal is always to win titles and trophies. So, it’s always a very good feeling for Bayern to be on top. From outside, it probably seems that clubs like Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig could push to be more competitive, but that’s not that easy. It’s each club’s own responsibility to be the best, and that’s what Bayern Munich do for a long time now.
Union Berlin are doing very well this season at the top of the league but why have leading clubs like Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig not been able to compete with Bayern?
I think Dortmund and Leipzig focus mainly on the development of young players and profit from transfers, while Bayern’s main goal is to win trophies. The other clubs also have the desire of winning titles, but in the end, their strategy and philosophy are more about getting players ready to sell them which limits their ability to develop further. Bayern, in contrast are able to and willing to invest in established players and at a higher level and that makes them more competitive.
In addition, Bayern Munich also focus on developing their youth players as well. There is a new academy called the FC Bayern Campus which was built in 2017. The youth academy has first-rate facilities including multi-purpose pitches, training halls, a SkillsLab which is used to work on specialised areas of the player’s ability, and a 2500 seater stadium. It has to be seen to be seen to be believed, this club is always building for the future.
Do you think Bayern is missing Robert Lewandowski this season? Was the sale to Barcelona a mistake?
For the club it is a challenge to replace him as it would be for every club. In the end, it’s not an easy decision all round. It was not a mistake to let him go if the player wants to go. Of course, it’s also a tactical change without Robert Lewandowski, but I believe, it will work out for both sides.
In your view is Julian Nagelsmann the right coach for Bayern?
Yes, 100%. He is one of the best coaches with most tactical knowledge and awareness and seems to fit really well at the club and is one of the leading coaches in the global game.
There have been some less good performances for example at home in the draw against relegation candidates VfB Stuttgart or in the away loss to Augsburg, why are Bayern less effective this season?
At the beginning of the season, there were some losses as you say, I think it’s the new players like Sadio Mane or Matthjis de Ligt adjusting to the system and also not having Robert Lewandowski makes the attack less lethal at times. Nagelsmann is experimenting still. But it’s good for the league. Bayern will always want to win through and therefore they have to and will keep on improving and get the results.
Which talents in German football should we be looking out for over the next years?
Outside of Bayern’s players like Jamal Musiala, I would add Bayer Leverkusen’s midfielder Florian Wirtz and BVB’s Youssoufa Moukoko. From the U19 Bundesliga, I would go with attacking midfielder Tom Bischof from TSG Hoffenheim, Bischof has high energy, outstanding skill levels and has huge potential to develop into a leading player. Also Paris Brunner from Borussia Dortmund. Brunner is a striker and has scored 16 goals in 6 matches in the U17 Bundesliga and has already played U19 Bundesliga and UEFA Youth League as well. He is a really talented striker and maybe the next big one for Dortmund.
There are rumours in the UK newspapers that Moukoko would like to go to Bayern Munich, is he a realistic target for the club?
Youssoufa Moukoko is one of Germany’s biggest talents he has scored several hundred goals at youth level and is gaining experience at senior level also since 2020 and is starting to score and show what he can do also for Germany in the U21s and soon senior level, basically nearly every club in Europe would be interested in him.
Talking about Bayern, which players should we be interested in following from the Bayern academy?
Midfielder Paul Wanner who is 16 and has already signed a professional contract and had his debut for the first team is one. An U17 Germany international, Paul has great skill and commitment and an incredible left-foot, he’s the most exciting talent from the Bayern U19 at this time. Also interesting is midfielder Arijon Ibrahimovic, he is a box to box midfielder who has excellent attacking and defending skills.
What do you think about BVB? Can they win the Meisterschaft in the next couple of years?
The opportunity is always there but Dortmund need to be more consistent over a whole season to gain the title. For Dortmund, the DFB Pokal seems to have been a closer target than the Bundesliga title because they were not consistent across recent seasons. But they are improving step by step. Edin Terzic and Sebastian Kehl are bringing in new momentum and I think Dortmund are going in a good direction but they have a huge challenge.
As somebody who follows the German national team, very few young players apart from Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, and probably going forward Joshua Kimmich and Jamal Musiala, are world class now. Are we’re seeing a less talented generation of players compared to the last 20 years, do you resonate with that?
That’s partly right, we have a good generation with the likes of Toni Kroos, Ilkay Gundogan and Manuel Neuer but it’s probably the last World Cup for that generation. Nico Schlotterbeck is starting to look outstanding, but a concern is in the centre-back position where Germany don’t have a high number of young players on the highest level. On the left there is Lucas Netz of ‘Gladbach or David Raum of Hoffenheim although he is already 24, but In the wing-back positions there are not enough players on the very highest level at the moment. At the new DFB Academy in Frankfurt they are looking closely at the structure in German football and there have been discussions about the strategies of youth academies, the U21s won the European championship in 2021 and there are good players coming through in Antonio Di Salvo’s team. as mentioned, there is more to come.
You need a replacement for Robert Lewandowski at Bayern, Harry Kane from Tottenham Hotspur, will he come? Is Kane the right striker for Bayern?
I don’t know if he will come to Bayern but of course, he’s a great striker with unparalleled achievements in terms of strike rate at his club, Kane would be an asset for lots of teams including Bayern. There are some parallels between Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowski. They’re both very effective strikers who are game deciders and are tactically brilliant. Kane might just be one of the very best in the world right now and he could well fit in the Bayern game, but it all depends on tactics of course.
Dortmund are looking to sell Jude Bellingham in the summer, according to reports BVB are looking to get €100m for Bellingham, with that level of transfer fee you can buy really good Bundesliga players, if they can replace Bellingham, and that won’t be easily done, do you see Dortmund becoming very serious competitors for the title in 2023/24?
Bellingham is a crucial player for Dortmund right now and replacing him as you say is quite a challenge but yes, there’s always the opportunity. Age is just a number but if you mainly have young talents in your team, you won’t be able to compete effectively against a team with the kind of established players you see at Bayern. It will therefore take something big to regain the title for Dortmund.
Bayern recently hired head of scouting Markus Pilawa from Borussia Dortmund, has that left BVB’s scouting strategy exposed right now?
Since he is one of the best talent scouts, it was a smart move from Bayern. Dortmund have restructured their scouting and have three scouts doing the same work one which is Laurent Busser formerly of Bayern, and we’ll see how that strategy works, for sure, it leaves the club less dependent that way.
You spoke about Dortmund’s overreliance on talent. Terzic is reportedly looking at Naby Keita, is that a game changer if Dortmund start looking at bringing in that quality of established players?
That’s a transfer that would make sense from a tactical point of view, and how Edin Terzic likes to play. If Jude Bellingham leaves, I think that would be a smart move for Dortmund. With Liverpool’s Naby Keita, Dortmund would get a player who has outstanding cut through and skills and can help compete in all three competitions. In my opinion, it would be a smart move for Dortmund if they go for Keita, it will be interesting to see what BVB can do, Keita would make them more dangerous for sure.
Finally thinking about the World Cup in Qatar which is coming up soon, what do you think about the qualities of England, do you think they are capable of winning the tournament or are the weaknesses seen, including against Germany, in the UEFA Nations League the sign of problems to come?
England are a very strong team with outstanding talent. It will be a very hard-fought trophy in Qatar as every world cup and also France and Spain are looking strong. England cannot be underestimated players like Harry Kane, Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham and Raheem Sterling are outstanding, England have a realistic chance. However, the South American nations like Brazil and Argentina will be dangerous, they should be able to acclimatise and are favourites in my view.