The European champions have limited options to come off the bench to influence any game.
After the kind of sheer dominance FC Bayern Munich produced in winning the treble during the 2019-20 season, one would have presumed that everything is perfect with the Bavarians. However, the grass is always greener on the other side. Now that they’ve managed the incredible achievement, the pressure will be even higher for them to repeat similar heroics in the 2020-21 season. The slightest of a drop in performance levels will be criticized and players will be expected to perform even better than they did last season.
Bayern received a rude wakeup call in their shocking loss to Hoffenheim, the first suffered in 2020 under Hansi Flick. That loss itself pinpointed the cracks in the system, which is mostly caused by the lack of options Bayern have in multiple areas. Having sold more players than they’ve bought, they’ve trimmed down their squad to the absolute bare minimum.
Despite knowing their world-class qualities, the Bavarians are treading a very dangerous line which could be disrupted by the slightest of shakeups. With Bayern having a very thin squad this season, we look at five reasons why that could create problems for them this season.
5. Older players in risk of being overworked
The perfect mix of experience and youth at Bayern Munich resulted in all their success last season, but the fact of the matter is, they still have a number of older legs who can’t sustain their energy like the juniors. The likes of Thomas Muller and Jerome Boateng are pivotal to their success, but they can’t play week in, week out before experiencing issues.
Bayern Munich do not have like-for-like alternatives for anyone apart from Boateng, which could be a problem. While Flick can always call upon academy youngsters, they won’t be able to perform to the same level nor make a similar impact. With a lack of options to replace the regulars, Flick will have to hope his senior stars can maintain their fitness – because falling prey to injuries can create a disaster.
4. Questions around centre-back fitness situation
Bayern have two experienced strong centre-backs, well capable of taking on any opposition in David Alaba and Jerome Boateng. But the problem is that apart from Alaba, the remaining centre-backs are very prone to injuries. Overworking either Boateng or Nicolas Sule can have consequences as both are very prone to picking up long-term injuries.
If both are sidelined, Bayern’s only other option is young centre-back Tanguy Kouassi. While highly-rated, the youngster will have to be slowly blended into the system before he’s ready for the spotlight. The limited centre-back option could create problems for the Bavarians going forward and force Flick to make unnecessary shuffles which could ruin their strong shape if Boateng and Sule both get injured around the same time.
3. Lack of proper alternatives to Lewandowski
While it’s well known that Robert Lewandowski is an absolute goal-scoring machine whose sheer hunger to score keeps him fit week in, week out, but he’s also a 32-year-old man. Even the best striker in the world needs some rest to keep his batteries charged, but Bayern, unfortunately, don’t have similar quality up-front.
Of course Joshua Zirkzee’s a really promising young striker and can cover for Lewandowski in the Bundesliga. But a team like Bayern really wouldn’t want to rely on a youngster to bail them out if something happens to the Polish striker. Bayern hasn’t shown any urgency to sign a new striker and that could cost them a few points later into the campaign.
2. No proper cover for their wing-backs
Another position where Bayern Munich are running thin on are their full-back positions, which are occupied by Benjamin Pavard and Alphonso Davies. While those two stars, especially Davies, are brilliant options which deserve to start every game for Bayern – the Bavarians don’t really have much quality in those areas apart from them.
With Alvaro Odriozola having left after his loan expired and Bayern showing hesitance at reinforcing their full-back positions, things could get difficult. Of course, Kimmich and Lucas Hernandez can play as a right-back and left-back respectively, but having to make them change their roles could create problems. Bayern couldn’t sign Sergino Dest to bolster their right-back spot and one injury to Pavard can again force Flick to make unnecessary shuffling to his squad, which potentially comes with its own downsides.
1. Injury prone wingers
Ever since the iconic duo of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery- aka ‘Robbery’ – left the Allianz Stadium, Bayern has been looking to create such a consistent, menacing duo down their wings. To their credit, they’ve signed up a world-class winger in Leroy Sane and developed another amazing one in Serge Gnabry. The problem is, Sane is injury-prone and has picked up an injury – weeks into the new season. Kingsley Coman might’ve effectively won them the Champions League, but he struggles to stay fit for the entirety of a season.
The injury-prone wingers could soon turn into an issue for the Bavarians, especially if Sane and Coman are both injured. Of course, they have enough versatility in their squad to make up for injuries, but the lack of proper, world-class wingers on occasions can cost them vital points and cause real disruptions in their form as the season moves on.