Three ways Bayern Munich could line up in Carlo Ancelotti’s diamond system
Normally things would be rather quiet around this time of the year for Bundesliga clubs, soaking up the tranquility that comes with a winter break which suspends top-flight German football until late January.
However, for Bayern Munich, that hasn’t been the case in the last few days. While the Bavarians are only midway through the current campaign, eyes are already turning towards a new era starting at the end of the season.
With Pep Guardiola set to stand down next spring to seek pastures new after what will be three years at the helm, Bayern have moved quickly to appoint his successor in waiting ahead of 2016/17.
Guardiola’s decision to leave and Bayern’s call to replace him with world-renowned coach Carlo Ancelotti has captured the imagination of football and led to the impending switch in the dugout dominating recent headlines.
Bayern have been here before, though, with Guardiola replacing Jupp Heynckes in the summer of 2013, having been announced as the latter’s replacement as early as January.
The Germans have decided to acquire their next manager in the cycle even earlier this time, giving Ancelotti a large amount of freedom to study and work out how he can build and aim to improve on Guardiola’s Bayern.
Guardiola has been up against it in terms of trying to match or even surpass Bayern’s lofty feat under Heynckes, lifting the treble under the German’s stewardship the season before the Spaniard arrived at the Allianz Arena.
Although Guardiola is yet to produce a treble-winning campaign at Bayern, the former Barcelona boss has still managed to put his own stamp on the German giants and break records along the way.
Bayern serenely wrapped up the league title in April last term, playing a stellar brand of football under Guardiola which often sees him convert players from their usual positions into new ones on the pitch.
Identifying how he can stand out at Bayern and still guide them towards winning major honours remains the task for Ancelotti to think about over the next couple of months.
While Guardiola has made his mark by using the likes of Philipp Lahm and Jerome Boateng in midfield and David Alaba in several areas, Ancelotti can also make his presence felt at Bayern tactically.
The diamond structure is synonymous with Ancelotti, who used the system during trophy-laden spells with both AC Milan and Chelsea, and embedding it at Bayern could be one way in which the Italian looks to sparkle at the club.
Bayern have some of the best midfield options in the world and analysing how they could be utilised and rotated in a diamond system could whet the appetite of Ancelotti ahead of his arrival.
Neuer; Lahm, Boateng, Benatia, Rafinha; Alonso; Vidal, Thiago; Gotze; Muller, Lewandowski
Xabi Alonso played a key role in Ancelotti’s successes at Real Madrid as a deep-lying playmaker and could operate there in a possible diamond system under the 56-year-old at Bayern.
The key tactical question, however, lies with who would line up alongside Alonso, or Lahm who can also play in this position, in the other three slots in Ancelotti’s renowned diamond.
When used at Milan, Ancelotti had excellent running power in the middle through the likes of Clarence Seedorf and Gennaro Gattuso, who both played just in front of playmaker Andrea Pirlo.
Neuer; Lahm, Boateng, Benatia, Rafinha; Alonso; Vidal, Alaba; Douglas Costa; Muller, Lewandowski
Arturo Vidal is well known for his fabulous engine in midfield and therefore the Chile international could be a key man in a potential diamond formation under Ancelotti at Bayern for the same reason.
Sebastian Rode also has the legs capable of adding important energy to the middle of the park for Bayern, should a diamond ever come into Ancelotti’s thinking at the club.
Ancelotti also used the diamond system during his time at Chelsea, lifting the 2010 Premier League title in the process, with Deco playing a significant role just behind the two strikers.
Deco, like Portuguese compatriot Rui Costa at Milan, brought plenty of guile and cleverness to the No.10 position and Ancelotti could use the likes of Thiago Alcantara or Mario Gotze to replicate that at Bayern.
Neuer; Rafinha, Martinez, Boateng, Alaba; Lahm; Vidal, Thiago; Muller; Robben, Lewandowski
And arguably the biggest tactical query when judging whether Ancelotti could coach a diamond at Bayern lies with his forward options and who could operate the two forward berths up top.
Robert Lewandowski is one of Europe’s best marksmen and would be a shoo-in to fill one of the slots while Thomas Muller could be used either as a No.10 or alongside the Poland international.
Louis van Gaal had success when using Arjen Robben just behind Robin van Persie as a forward for the Netherlands at the last World Cup and Ancelotti could play the former there at Bayern, too.
Kingsley Coman is a fantastic prospect, but it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where he would fit into an Ancelotti diamond system, usually playing in wide positions which are non-existent in this particular formation.
With the wealth of talent and versatility soon to be at his disposal at Bayern next year, a new-look diamond setup at Bayern under Ancelotti is a thrilling thought.