OPINION | There’s light at the end of Bayern Munich’s dismal tunnel

Bayern Munich currently sit at the top of the Bundesliga table, one point ahead of Borussia Dortmund. With 83 goals they are currently the league’s top goalscorers – with 10 more than Dortmund themselves – while only Union Berlin can boast a better defensive record, conceding 32 goals to Bayern’s 34.

However, since the dismissal of Julian Nagelsmann, there has been sheer chaos ringing around the Säbener Straße with a new headline every day. From the firing and hiring of managers, to the job security of those in higher echelons of the club, to even fights breaking out within the squad. This is all very FC Hollywood.

Nevertheless, in the midst of chaos and pandemonium, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Not everything is going wrong in Bavaria, and optimism should be in the air.

Benjamin Pavard – Bayern’s Mr Reliable

Football is a very strange game. Less than nine months ago, Benjamin Pavard’s exit from Bayern Munich looked to be imminent. With Barcelona and Inter Milan sniffing around for Bayern’s versatile defender, he was given permission to find a way out of Bavaria. However, with injuries and a lack of consistency plaguing the Bayern backline, it was this versatility that proved so important.

Despite joining the record champions from Swabian side VfB Stuttgart with the intention of him becoming the club’s long-term right-back, Pavard has stated his desire to play more centrally in defence. While he has covered in the centre of Bayern’s defence over the past few years, this year has seen him become their most reliable option in that position. Dayot Upamecano has become a liability, especially in the big games this campaign, whereas Matthijs de Ligt has not fully settled in Munich just yet.

Furthermore, statistically, Pavard is able to boast about being Die Rekordmeister’s leading stalwart. With 2.4 tackles per game and 1.5 interceptions, no other Bayern player can offer a better return. On top of this, he has been able to record eight goals in all competitions. He has proven to step up to the plate when others have backed away and can be considered a real shining light on Bayern’s tricky season. He may even request to be Bayern’s number nine for next season if he can continue his goalscoring numbers.

Thomas Tuchel knows what he needs

Thomas Tuchel has been on Bayern Munich’s shortlist for many years now. His career has been littered with success, trophies and overachievement. Through the pure emotion that he exuberates, he has been able to push players beyond their limits and achieve success with sides that others could not. This is whilst being a masterful tactician and understanding the strengths and limitations of his own sides.

It is within this understanding that Thomas Tuchel has already been able to identify the missing pieces in the Bayern Munich jigsaw. While the addition of a striker is clearly needed for the Rekordmeister, the reports linking Mateo Kovačić to Bavaria are significantly interesting. Leon Goretzka has been underwhelming so for this campaign, and this is something that has been noted by Tuchel.

The current Chelsea midfielder was able to flourish under Tuchel while he was in charge at Stamford Bridge, and there is a possibility that the two will be reunited. When comparing Kovačić to Goretzka, the statistics are rather astounding. They have both played 1,600 minutes so far this year, however, Kovačić’s numbers while in possession dwarf those of Goretzka’s.

The Croatian international has carried the ball 350 more times than the Bayern midfielder, with a total progressive distance of 2,500 yards compared to Goretzka’s 1,700. In addition, Kovačić has 150 progressive passes this season compared to Goretzka’s 109, with a progressive distance of 5,440 yards while Goretzka has only offered a progressive distance of 3,600 yards.  

This is all while comprising similar defensive numbers and attacking output. Either a player of Kovačić’s ilk or the Chelsea midfielder himself will likely join Bayern in the summer. This is because Tuchel has acknowledged what is needed for his Bayern side to become dominant domestically and internationally once again. The signings he makes will undoubtedly be purposefully made to resurrect a side with a few glaring issues.

The Meisterschale is in their hands

Finally, with the chaos that has been surrounding the Rekordmeister, it would be easy to forget that they do have a Bundesliga title in their hands. While some may say that they do not deserve to be crowned champions of Germany once again for poor performances throughout the Rückrunde, ultimately, Borussia Dortmund have failed to take the opportunity that was handed to them.

The disappointment of the Champions League and DFB Pokal will undoubtedly linger around the club, however, the chances are it will be used as motivation for the rest of this campaign and next season. The Bayern squad have had to adjust to the managerial change that would have surprised many at the club and a brief dip in form would be expected. Unfortunately for Bayern, the change may have occurred at the worst possible time in their season.

Nevertheless, despite this being a poor campaign for Bayern’s standards, they have still been able to prevent Dortmund from pipping them to the Meisterschale. One would imagine this trend will not continue into next season. Tuchel will be able to have an entire summer working with his players, while the squad itself can take a deserved rest. With quality in almost every position, there is a core of a dominant side at Bayern, and lifting the Meisterschale will push everyone on into next season.

GGFN | Will Shopland

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