Is the FC Bayern “crisis” over? The definitive answer to that will only come in a few weeks, but the 2:1 win at Werder Bremen gave Bavarian fans plenty to chew on.
Three thoughts on the matter.
Back to the double six
The return of the “double six” scheme is a very encouraging one in the midfield. Largely abandoned and ignored after 2013, the central midfield pairing is once again serving the Bavarians, just as head coach Niko Kovač recently promised.
It may seem a bit weird that Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka have initiated that return, but it worked against Bremen. Both men were involved in the attacking and defensive phases of the game, with a very positive effect. With the double six, Die Bayern’s defense proved to be more stable, addressing a chief concern.
There are definitely questions marks on the horizon. Can the double six make up for Jérôme Boateng’s lack of focus? Will it restore Manuel Neuer’s full confidence? The honest answer is that time will tell.
What we know, today, is that the pairing may be more necessary than before. Bayern players have attacking instinct that can hardly be repressed. The team has conceded many silly goals in recent months. The double six is a tool to correct shortcomings, bring more midfield presence and increase stability.
Many happy returns
In a single game, Niko Kovač made Serge Gnabry, Kingsley Coman and Thiago Alcântara come back after recovering from serious injuries. The first started the match and his two colleagues came on as subs.
It sounds insane, mostly because Coman and Thiago are injury-prone. Once again, it worked. Gnabry’s brace was the highlight of the day. Coman was not as explosive as usual, but he probably did not expect to play for 60 minutes. Not to be upstaged, Thiago instantly picked up a yellow card, putting his name on the match sheet.
Another noteworthy return is that of Thomas Müller as “shadow striker” and Raumdeuter. It first happened in the midweek against Benfica and was confirmed by the starting XI on Saturday. The old mule had a nice game, adding creative input and movement to a more inspired Bavarian attack.
Having more attacking-minded players at his disposal will help Kovač to put the right guys in the right positions. Having healthy wingers makes it possible to use Müller as the no.10. If Die Bayern work better offensively, perhaps he can focus on fixing the defense.
The Alaba factor
One of the most talented players at FC Bayern, David Alaba, seems to be motivated again. All over the pitch against Benfica, he was hyperactive once again versus Bremen.
Alaba’s impact on the team is undeniable once he gets going. He may be the most explosive player after Coman, with top speed that most footballers can only wish they had. His right-back position is pivotal in any team since an effective full-back feeds the offense and makes the defense most robust… while covering more space than anyone else.
Were Alaba’s return to form confirmed in the coming matches, it would be excellent news for the team.
There are still defensive question marks. Manuel Neuer’s miscommunication with Jérôme Boateng made him concede a bad goal. Returnees may need time to return to form and a winter break is looming. Yet, this match’s process and outcome are encouraging.
The day before, the club’s top managers gave Kovač a clear backing at the annual meeting. Improved performance and managerial support could help the coach, team and club to emerge from an overblown crisis. This would prevent a second coach sacking in only two seasons.
For the sake of having a stable team, it would be welcome.