Football Features

Four ways Bayern Munich could line up in 2019/20 as post-‘Robbery’ era begins

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 9:45, 14 August 2019 | Updated: 19:57, 16 August 2019

Bayern Munich have made impressive gains in the 2019 transfer window.

In typical fashion, the Bavarians started off early. In January of this year, French right-back Benjamin Pavard agreed to sign for Bayern at the end of the season.

Pavard started at right-back for France as they won the World Cup and scored the best goal at the tournament. Then, in late March, the man who set that goal up signed for Bayern, too. Lucas Hernández (France’s left-back out in Russia) joined Bayern in the summer for a club-record €80m.

Those are two mammoth statements. The Lucas signing, in particular, is a significant statement because Bayern have often been critical of exorbitant transfer fees and vowed to not play that game.

Well, now they’ve had a go and done pretty god damn well. Jann-Fiete Arp joined from HSV and, recently, Ivan Perisic joined on loan with an option to purchase and Philippe Coutinho is expected to do the same soon. Is this the end of Bayern’s spending as they look to rebuild and move on from the “Robbery” era? We have a look at four ways they could line-up this season.

1. The Dream

They say that when you dream, you should dream big. But that’s not how Bayern Munich get down. They dream moderately and sustainably, preferring to hoover up talent from around the Bundesliga and develop it. Rarely do they push the boat out for big, expensive signings from abroad. Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and Javi Martinez were tremendous exceptions.

So they’ve already spent a colossal amount of money on Lucas Hernandez (and a fair whack on Benjamin Pavard), a magnificent defender with world-class potential (no defender won more tackles than him in La Liga since the start of 2017/18). Their dream wouldn’t involve a whole lot more in terms of incoming. Pavard and Lucas would take their place in a powerful back-line with Niklas Sule and David Alaba.

With Pavard at right-back, Joshua Kimmich can return to his natural position in the centre of midfield. He’s already playing there for Germany and with such a solid defence behind him, could form an outrageously talented double pivot with Thiago Alcantara.

It’s also his ideal position: “If I prefer one position over the other, it’s the number six position, and it’s my goal to play as a number six in the long run,” he has said.  These two would run the side and link play with key attacking players Serge Gnabry and Philippe Coutinho, the former acting as an attacking force all over the pitch and the latter being an elite playmaker whose ability to carve out deadly passes for team-mates is matched only by his utterly lethal long-range shooting. Coutinho’s loan from Barcelona should end up going a lot better than James Rodriguez’s did, and you can expect the Brazilian to become a key figure for the Bavarians soon.

The other new addition is the sensational French winger, Ousmane Dembélé. Bayern made heavy overtures towards Leroy Sané before his injury and while they have signed Ivan Perisic, he is very far from a dream addition. Meanwhile, Dembélé could soon become surplus to requirements at Barcelona should they re-sign Neymar, and this would be ideal timing for Bayern to rekindle their interest in a player who once tore up the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund. Plus with Coutinho already at the club, it’d be an easy fit.

Dembélé is a sensational two-footed player who can score and assist in equal measure from either foot. The Frenchman is potentially one of the world’s greatest attackers, such is his high ceiling. Signing him would echo the way in which Arjen Robben joined Bayern a decade ago, a “reject” from one of Spain’s big two but ending up becoming a legend in Bavaria.

And then Robert Lewandowski is up front because, well, of course he is. Bayern have been linked with many strikers but Lewandowski is an institution. The top non-German goalscorer in Bundesliga history is not a man you get rid of lightly.

2. Wing Wonders

Sometimes, reality is what it is, however. And dreams are dreams for a reason. That doesn’t mean that Bayern cannot affect serious change with the squad they have currently assembled. Neuer maintains his spot in goal while Lucas and Sule form one of the biggest and beefiest centre-back duos on the planet.

Kimmich is back in defence (sorry Joshua) but fielding him at right-back and Alaba at left-back with the new-found solidity and athleticism in the middle means that both full-backs could bomb on consistently to give Bayern a Liverpool-esque kind of offensive output from the position.

Meanwhile, ahead of them would still be Thiago, pulling the strings with midfield partner Corentin Tolisso. The two would offer control while Goretzka brings a more dynamic, box-to-box energy to the midfield. Coutinho, a true no. 10, waits on the bench as a devastating attacking option to bring on should the need arise.

The 4-3-3 formation demands natural width in attack, as well as from full-backs, so new boy Perisic and Kingsley Coman come into the side. In these two, Bayern have pace, penetration, assists and goals.

They would terrorise sides up and down the Bundesliga (as long as Coman stayed fit) and provide a multitude of chances for Robert Lewandowski because, again, it’s Robert Lewandowski. You don’t sell him without a replacement and there basically isn’t one.

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3. Kinder Munchen

Bayern Munich are an old, old side. But they also have a wealth of good young talent in the squad. Christian Fruchtl is just 19 years old but already a promising goalkeeper. The back four shuffles Lucas to his World Cup-winning position of left-back to bring the age down and create a situation where all of the defence is around the same age, so they could grow old together; Kimmich is 24 while Pavard, Sule and Lucas will all be 23 at the start of 2019/20.

In midfield, Renato Sanches finally lays down his claim to be a Bayern Munich superstar at 21-years-old, three years after being signed as the hottest prospect around. Bringing 24-year-old Goretzka in alongside him should see Bayern’s midfield be impossibly dynamic and energetic.

Gnabry, at 23, is the No.10 this time, playing with true freedom, but this time he is flanked by the 21-year-old Coman who, if he could just stay fit, is a potential world-beating winger that Bayern would love to be able to unleash.

On the right is Canadian wonderkid Alphonso Davies, a player of incredible skill and speed who already managed to bag his first Bayern goal after joining from Vancouver Whitecaps last season. Up front is Jann-Fiete Arp, the German teenager who debuted for HSV last season (and has a remarkable 18 goals in 19 games for Germany’s U-17 side).

He was so impressive that Bayern signed him with an agreement that he could join them at the start of 2019/20 or 2020/21. Understandably, he chose to join this summer and has performed well in pre-season, so should be quite an interesting presence.

4. Kovac’s 3-5-2

Niko Kovac played 3-5-2 to great success at previous club Eintracht Frankfurt and with the arrival of Pavard and Lucas, he has the personnel to play it at Bayern too. Well, technically he could already play it, but Alaba is not the defender he was while Hummels (now departed) and Boateng looked far from their best as well.

So here, Pavard and Lucas flank Sule. This defensive trio would be athletically and tactically sublime, capable of handling any sort of threat. Ahead of them, Thiago can anchor midfield by himself because with that defence behind him, pretty much anyone could and Thiago is considerably better than pretty much anyone.

Ahead of Thiago is Goretzka help him dominate the ball and, well, do a bit of everything. The three man defence will afford the midfield more license to attack, hence Coutinho appearing here. The Brazilian would be a deadly force driving Bayern forward from deep positions with his dribbling, passing and shooting.

Meanwhile, out wide, Kimmich and Alaba would be Bayern’s wing-backs. They’d have to defend, sure, but would largely be freed up to hammer opponents from wide areas. And, hey, if they don’t like it, Davies has been fulfilling a wing-back role for Canada recently and could unleash his terrifying pace there, too.

Then in attack, oh hey look, it’s Robert Lewandowski again. Next to him is veteran Thomas Muller. The German can be tricky to fit into three-man attacks but he is perfectly at home in a front two.

Lewandowski and Muller have different skillsets and would actually be quite a formidable striking duo, given their excellent passing skills and great understanding, having played together for so many years.