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Süle, Sarr, and More: A Q&A With Bavarian Football Works

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We have questions, and they have answers.

FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-BAYERN-MUNICH-OKTOBERFEST Photo credit should read CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images

Gather around, class, we have a very special guest with us today. With a match against Bayern Munich looming on Saturday, we have been given a great opportunity. We very rarely face clubs that have their own SB Nation blogs, but luckily for us, Bavarian Football Works is SBN’s blog that covers news and provides analysis on Bayern Munich. They’re much bigger than us, but we’re funnier... but don’t tell them I said that. So I thought I’d take this excellent opportunity to lazily outsource an article engage in a thought-provoking exchange of ideas with our colleagues from Bavarian Football Works. I sat down virtually with Ineednoname to ask him a few questions about Bayern’s season. And by that I mean I sent him a list of questions on Slack and said “Answer these while I go play Xbox!”

  1. What is going on with Bayern’s defense? Do you believe the offense can continue to make up for the defensive struggles?

It’s really just a two-fold issue: Personnel and Tactics. Hansi Flick has a defensive philosophy centered around aggressive pressing and keeping the ball as far away from goal as humanly possible. This isn’t exactly compatible with the current schedule, which has forced the team to tone down the intensity and allow opponents more time and space to play through the defense. The other problem is the fact that without time for Hansi to fine-tune the tactics every week, we’ve slowly suffered a degradation of the entire team’s pressing concept. Hansi’s press is as much tactical as it is physical, and the pandemic schedule has affected that a lot.

It would be better for us if we just played like we did in the Guardiola days (lots of possession, patient buildup) because we’d concede far less, but that doesn’t seem like an option Flick wants to pursue.Meanwhile, almost every defender as been at least somewhat out of form (or injured) at some point this season. David Alaba and Benjamin Pavard are nowhere near as good as they were in 19-20, and Phonzie just recently got his form back. There have been way too many individual errors, something which should not happen in an ideal world.

As for the offense – I think that we can blow out almost any team on the planet. Our games against Atletico Madrid proved that no one can stop this team from scoring. However, if its a big game in the UCL, or some one-off situations like Frankfurt or Leipzig, then we may fall short simply because of badly conceded goals. On average, we’ll continue to win more than we lose – but that’s not ideal in big games, including the one against BVB.

2. How has Niklas Süle performed at right back? Is he looking like a potentially permanent option to compete with Pavard and Sarr?

Opinions vary, but I believe Niklas Sule has actually been our best right-back this season. He’s been more offensively AND defensively competent than Benjamin Pavard, and he’s had a number of excellent games against big name opposition. It was very impressive to watch him shut down Bailey when Bayern faced Leverkusen at the end of December last year. There’s an argument to be made that he should be the main RB going forward. I’m not even gonna talk about Sarr. What a disaster.

3. If you could only keep one of Alphonso Davies or Jamal Musiala, who would you pick?

That’s a hard question. I’d like to keep both of them, but I guess I’ll choose Davies. World class fullbacks are hard to find – and Bayern’s style of play completely revolves around fullbacks. Who would we even replace him with? Whereas there are plenty of young attackers out there that could take Musiala’s place should he choose to move on.

4. The correct answer there was “Reject both and pick Mahmoud Dahoud” Next question: Which Bayern player has surpassed your expectations the most this season? Which player has disappointed the most? And to make it interesting, you can’t say Bouna Sarr.

Surpassed expectations: Kingsley Coman. We always knew he was talented, but that goal in the UCL final somehow supercharged his confidence. He’s been nothing short of amazing this season – 6 goals and 12 assists in all competitions, plus an incredible commitment to pressing and defensive work. He’s basically relegated Gnabry and Sane to fighting for the remaining winger spot, which is not something anyone expected.Biggest disappointment: Since you blacklisted Sarr, I’m gonna go with Douglas Costa. He was supposed to be the reliable backup option that knows the club, but he’s absolutely useless. I’m not exaggerating. He’s almost as bad as Sarr, really. Costa can’t dribble, he can’t defend, he can barely press. His only redeeming quality is the fact that he’s actually owned by Juventus, so he’s gonna be THEIR problem after this season.

5. Do you actually like Paulaner, or do you just shill it because they have a sponsorship deal with Bayern? Come on, be honest.

I actually don’t drink, but I’m 99% sure the other guys aren’t meme-ing when they say they love Paulaner.

Darn, I was hoping for a little more banter out of you on that one.

Anyway, thank you INNN for your insightful commentary! Best of luck in the rest of your season.