Since the dismissal of Carlo Ancelotti, most of Bayern’s players have stepped up their game considerably. Some have been inconsistent and they will need to improve, especially in the Champions League.
We can say that David Alaba and Thomas Müller are among the massively criticised guys who have either stabilised or improved their form since the return of Jupp Heynckes. Here are the colleagues who can do better to prevent the final stretch of the season from being too rocky.
When he is on form, Jérôme Boateng is one of the best centre-backs not just in Germany, but in the world. He has the perfect combination of athleticism, technique both in passing and defensive ability.
The biggest problem with Boateng is something that is entirely out of his control for the most part—fitness. The big man has suffered numerous injuries over the years, and like most players, it sometimes takes him some time to return to full fitness.
In a perfect world, Bayern would not need Ribéry to be in flawless form anymore. The Frenchman is one of the greatest players to ever wear the Bayern trikot, but the Bavarians have not been able to rely on him since his injuries in 2013-14. Since then, his decline has been clear for everyone to see, and it has prompted the question of “who will replace Franck?” for years.
The truth is nobody will really replace Ribéry. You simply adapt to life without him and move forward with a new tactical plan as well as different players. It looked like Bayern had finally done that too when Kingsley Coman truly burst onto the scene this season. With his longlong-termury, Bayern have to once again try and get as much football as they can out of Ribéry.
Franck Ribéry has not necessarily been bad this season, but he has not been world-class in most matches either. While it is to be expected that Ribéry will not be playing in his 2013 treble form, he could probably stand to be a little more consistent. Given that contract negotiations with him and Arjen Robben are supposed to start up again next month, you would think Ribéry would want to try and elevate his game.
Were Coman not injured, this probably would not be as big of a deal. However, with Bayern still criminally thin in terms of depth on the wings, the Frenchman will have to start working extra hard to try and be a difference maker.
I should start this segment by saying that I have always liked Rafinha. He was almost always a reliable backup player, and in the 2014 season, Pep Guardiola helped coach him to a very high level. Philipp Lahm had to play in defensive midfield for a part of Pep’s tenure, and fans were worried that the right side of the flank would be destroyed by the rest of Europe.
Rafinha helped put those worries to rest despite the fact that a majority of Bayern fans seemed to think he was not good enough. The Brazilian put in a lot of good shifts and every little mistake was criticized, likely because he was not Philipp Lahm. (Fun fact: nobody is as good as Lahm.)
This season, however, the criticism is justified. Rafinha simply has never quite gotten back to the level of play that he demonstrated under Guardiola, and this season has been particularly bad. Thank goodness, Bayern has decided to play Joshua Kimmich as a right-back and that the young prodigy has not gotten injured.
The media report that Rafinha wants to go back to Brazil, and that the club is most likely to let him go this summer.However, there are still a few months left in the season and Rafinha will have to play some games. Kimmich cannot play every single match and injuries are always a possibility. Especially at Bayern.
Rafinha needs to improve.
Oh man. Where to start?
When Sebastian Rudy first joined Munich, he was not expected to do all that much. He was a solid player for Hoffenheim, but it was doubtful that he would crack into Bayern’s starting lineup. He just did not have the star power that Bayern’s midfield had.
The first few matches from Rudy, however, were surprising – he was very good. Composed, calm, and collected he seemed to fill the gap left by Xabi Alonso and acted as a fantastic midfield anchor. There was some chatter that Rudy could end up being a key player in Bayern’s midfield in certain tactical situations.
It is difficult to tell if it was a lack of playing time or if the start of Rudy’s tenure at Bayern was just a purple patch in form. His performances in the last few matchs in which he has featured have been somewhat shocking. The most egregious performance was in the recent loss to Leipzig. You can legitimately argue that he was at fault for both goals.
Nobody was expecting Rudy to set the world on fire and immediately become a starter but he can be a key squad member. We have already seen better performances from him, and know he can perform at a higher level. With a little work, he can start earning some more minutes again.
This is a tough one because a lot of Juan Bernat’s issues on the pitch are only partially his fault. When David Alaba was in shocking form under Carlo Ancelotti, many Bayern fans were hoping the Spaniard would get a good run of games and a chance to establish himself as a starter.
It never happened. Bernat picked up a long-term injury and was out for several months. Since then, Alaba has regained his form and Bernat has seemingly struggled with fitness as has been the story for much of his Bayern career.
Now when he does play, it is often on the left wing. Some Bayern fans seem to think this was a logical progression for his career. I suspect these fans have never actually played football. The transition from being an attacker to a defender, even a defender who is good at moving forward, is difficult. Suffice to say Bernat has not exactly adapted well to this role and has been severely underperforming.
Again, it is partially circumstance that Juan Bernat has been playing poorly this season. It is, however, becoming increasingly difficult to justify keeping him on the payroll at Bayern. Bernat needs to improve not only for the rest of the team but for himself as well.
Things are good, and can be better
Most of these players are depth players or players struggling with consistency, like Bayern. But this proves an essential point—as the season progresses, Bayern will need to utilize their depth and players will need to play consistently.