At the start of the season, Yann Sommer (right) despaired the team of Julian Nagelsmann. He now replaces Manuel Neuer. Image: www.imago-images.de / MIS
Ahead of the Bundesliga restart against RB Leipzig, Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann made it clear what is important to him in the coming months. “My job is to organize the second half of the season so that I am firmly in the saddle this summer.”
This is actually only guaranteed for the 35-year-old if the Munich team not only wins the German championship after a two-year drought, but also wins the DFB Cup again and successfully contests the knockout stages of the Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain.
But on the way to those goals, there are a few stumbling blocks for Nagelsmann and his team that could be dangerous for development.
The goalkeeper problem
Ever since Manuel Neuer went public with his fractured tibia and fibula on December 10, the question at Bayern Munich has been who will replace the captain.
Negotiations with preferred candidate Yann Sommer have long been complicated. On Wednesday afternoon, however, the transfer was reported as fixed.
It is still debatable whether the newcomer or Sven Ulreich will be in goal on Friday night in Leipzig. Unlike six other positions that the coach has already allocated in his head – revealed Nagelsmann in the pre-match press conference.
Dazn expert contradicts Nagelsmann
Judging by the Bayern coach’s statement that Sommer would only need ’15 minutes’ to get used to his new backline, the Swiss should probably celebrate his debut in the starting XI. “It’s certainly not rocket science that you first have to study for six months.”
Sebastian Kneißl, ex-professional and Dazn expert, sees things differently. He says to Watson:
“You always have to get to know each other. The players wouldn’t know when Yann Sommer comes out of goal or what commands he gives. For the individual zone, I wouldn’t worry about Sommer. He delivers immediately. But that would be working for a new keeper “It’s about learning when to push the defense or when a defender should call with a striker. These commands should be learned quickly by a new keeper.”
He relied a lot more on Sven Ulreich in the early games so Sommer and his new teammates could get to know each other.
It is not a problem for the Bayern coach that Ulreich remains number 2. He is aware of his role. “When we need him, it’s important to be there – he gets money for that.”
With only 13 goals conceded and seven clean sheets after 15 games, the Munich side have the best defense in the league. But again this season, Bayern lack the necessary order in defense.
It will not be easier for the rest of the season with the prolonged absences of Manuel Neuer and Lucas Hernandez. In addition, Noussair Mazroui is still missing for a few weeks after his pericarditis. With de Ligt, Upamecano, Pavard, Davies, Stanisic and newcomer Blind, Nagelsmann has just six players for the four defensive positions. Especially in the blind, the record champions must hope that the Dutchman will quickly get used to the new environment and the new championship.
The only test game against RB Salzburg last weekend showed just how vulnerable the Munich defense still is. In the 4:4 spectacle against the Austrians, the record champions showed solid approaches in attack and major problems in defense. Four goals conceded and plenty of good counter-attacking chances for the guests allowed Nagelsmann to draw a clear conclusion: “We scored two goals, like in the first half of the season.”
What becomes of Thomas Müller?
Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sané, Kingsley Coman, Thomas Müller, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Mathys Tel: the potential in the three attacking positions is enormous. Apart from Sadio Mané, who was injured for a long time, all the stars are in good shape. The great offensive puzzle now begins for the Bayern coach.
Nagelsmann is certain that Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting will be on the pitch from the start on Friday night in Leipzig. “Choupo is on a very good roll. I don’t see any major reason not to let him start.
Thomas Müller could only threaten the substitutes’ bench against Leipzig on Friday. Image: dpa / Peter Kneffel
Sané shone with a goal in the friendly against Salzburg, but Coman and Tel also caught the eye with a goal and an assist each. Nagelsmann even certified the “outstanding performance” of Tel. Gnabry has scored five times in the last four games before the World Cup break.
And then there’s Thomas Müller, who was missing with a hip problem before the Bundesliga break, but according to Nagelsmann played “good preparation” and is “an extremely important player”. On offense, however, he is no longer the undisputed regular. Because Jamal Musiala is also currently stuck in his favorite position behind the attackers and Choupo-Moting scores in the axis of the attack.
“Don’t worry, he will continue to play a major role,” Nagelsmann tried to slow down the debate a bit.
For the Bayern coach, it will be a great art to please all attacking stars in the long term so that they can also provide an important boost from the bench.
World Cup aftermath
FC Bayern had the second highest number of players at the World Cup in Qatar. Only Noussair Mazraoui, who finished fourth with Morocco, returned with a real sense of accomplishment.
The majority of Munich World Cup drivers were eliminated with the DFB team in the preliminary round or lost to Argentina in a memorable final with France. Gaining confidence was so difficult.
Julian Nagelsmann already pointed out at the start of the year that he did not want to explicitly discuss the performance in the World Cup with the stars of the DFB. Players like Joshua Kimmich ticked the preliminary round for themselves. The World Cup debacle was “not something you can just forget or tick off,” he said. “Nevertheless, the motivation to come back here is huge,” he said during the training camp in Qatar.
And so the Munich team might even benefit from the performance of the national team.
Borussia Dortmund have already completed their squad planning for the second half of the upcoming season. With a number of returns from the injury break, BVB haven’t felt pressured to add staff in the winter transfer window – and likely won’t.
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