The German Supercup is this weekend as we take on Bayern Munich to try and get some early silverware. We asked Ryan Cowper from Bavarian Football Works some questions about what to expect from this Bayern team.
1)There's a lot of hype surrounding Renato Sanchez this season. Is Renato Sanchez going to be a major piece on Bayern this year?
RC: Most likely but it’s hard to define that at this point. Renato Sanches isn’t going to make his Bayern Munich debut for at least another month owing to first his vacation and now injury but he has the talent to be a critical part of this team.
You can clearly see where he fits alongside Arturo Vidal as part of two tenacious box-to-box midfielders shielding Xabi Alonso or Joshua Kimmich in midfield and Carlo Ancelotti has intimated that Sanches is here to be a big component of this team. But given the way Arturo Vidal struggled in his first four months at Bayern, Sanches part to play may not come until he has a better idea of how to play with everyone around him. Until then, he might just be Arturo Vidal’s understudy.
2) Who on Bayern is set to take a big step forward this year?
RC: Perhaps Julian Green but I’m very skeptical of him taking a step big enough to land him regular minutes for Bayern Munich. I think the more obvious answer is Kingsley Coman. The French international was extremely impressive for Bayern last season but also showed that he is still a raw product. He has the talent but the tactical awareness and team-based focused we see from guys like Douglas Costa and Franck Ribery is still a work in progress. When, or if, he takes that next step, he’ll be Bayern’s star winger for the next three or four years
3)How will Ancelotti's system differ from Pep's?
RC: According to Carlo Ancelotti, the answer is not much. According to Carlo Ancelotti’s tactical approach this preseason, a whole ton. That comes with the necessary statement that nearly half the Bayern Munich senior roster was still on holiday vacation just last Sunday. He hasn’t had a full squad or an option beyond U19 and Bayern II players in any match. He’s shoehorned Franck Ribery and Julian Green into a makeshift strike set and he’s played almost exclusively a standard 4-4-2. That’s a far cry from the tactical insanity of Pep Guardiola preseasons.
Overall though, there have just been far too much missing from this preseason so far. The real answer to how similar they will be gets answered on Sunday in the SuperCup.
4) Has Bayern performed up to expectation during preseason, and are there any glaring concerns?
RC: Given a solid majority of the team has only been in camp for less than a week, there were basically zero expectations this preseason. Bayern could have rolled out of bed, meandered onto the pitch in their pajamas, and lost every match and I doubt it would have been a big deal.
They stomped on their Oberliga tune up opponents as we’d expect and finished their International Champions Cup tour with an impressive win against Inter-MIlan, a mediocre 3-3 draw against AC Milan, and lost by a single goal on a late defensive gaffe against Real Madrid.
5) How big of a factor is the growing age of stars like ribery, robben, Neuer?
RC: It’s definitely a factor. Ribery and Robben are still the creative stars on this Bayern Munich as their experience far outstrips that of Costa and Coman. That said, their age and chronic injury history makes them assets that this team can’t really count on. It’s frustrating, but last season’s additions help to mitigate the impact their loss can have. It’s important, but nowhere near as important as the loss of Manuel Neuer.
Also, Manuel Neuer is still going to be a god when he’s 50-years-old so ask me again in two decades.