It is always going to be difficult for any team in any league to retain the championship for the seventh consecutive campaign, but Bayern Munich head into the 2018/19 campaign with the intention of doing just that, similarly to Lyon’s golden era between 2001 and 2008.
Niko Kovac’s side open their Bundesliga account against Hoffenheim on Friday night in a fixture that could prove problematic for the Croat’s side he has inherited. Julian Nagelsmann’s Hoffenheim caused Bayern multiple problems during the 2017/18 campaign but ultimately, it was Bavarian side who had the last laugh, clinching their sixth consecutive Bundesliga title with relative ease.
Last Season: The 2017/18 campaign was a strange one for Bayern Munich and their fans. Barring a 2-0 defeat on Matchday 3 against Hoffenheim, Carlo Ancelotti enjoyed four wins, one draw and one defeat in his opening six Bundesliga fixates but it still wasn’t good enough to save the Italian. There’s no doubting that the Champions League trophy is the aim for Bayern Munich, that goes without saying and so a 3-0 defeat against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League in September resulted in the sacking of Ancelotti.
A bold move, his replacement, Jupp Heynckes returned to Bayern Munich for his third spell with the Bundesliga club. His last saw him clinch the treble and it’s something that Uli Hoeneß and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge had set their sights on during 2017/18.
Although they clinched the league in relatively easy fashion, finishing 21 points ahead of Schalke, Bayern’s campaign was a disaster. Defeat in the DFB Pokal final against Eintracht Frankfurt, then coached by Kovac and a defeat against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final showed Bayern’s weaknesses.
Head coach: Niko Kovac – He wasn’t Bayern Munich’s first choice nor was he their second. Uli Hoeneß and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge wanted a German speaking dressing room, which is something they lacked under both Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti. Both Thomas Tuchel and Julian Nagelsmann remained top of their shortlist while Bayern’s management also contemplated offering Jupp Heynckes a contract extension. In the end, it was Kovac who was announced and while it’s perhaps an underwhelming name, there’s no denying that the 46-year-old deserves his opportunity.
With limited funding, Kovac has worked wonders with Eintracht Frankfurt during his two-year spell, clinching European football through winning the DFB Pokal against Bayern Munich. Eintracht also played a style of football that many opponents struggled to deal with. Predominantly opting for a 3-5-2 with a high press, it’s unlikely we’ll see something like this at Bayern Munch until the former Bayern Munich defender gets the players he desires.
Summer Transfers: With Franck Ribery (35) and Arjen Robben (34) not getting any younger, it’s clear just to see where Bayern Munich’s weaknesses are. Serge Gnabry returns from a loan spell at Hoffenheim while Kinglsey Coman is slowly returning to fitness however, if Bayern Munich are going to go for the treble, then there’s no doubting that they need to strengthen in the wide areas. They’ve agreed a deal to sign Alphonso Davies from Vancouver Whitecaps, who will arrive in January however, the Canadian is unlikely to make a positive contribution immediately.
And so, Bayern Munich’s summer transfer window has been rather poor. Signing Leon Goretzka on a free transfer prior to the World Cup promised an eventful summer but what followed was a lack of direction but with the departure of Arturo Vidal to Barcelona, their midfield seems to lack depth.
Bayern Munich’s hiarachy has suggested that Germany international Jerome Boateng can leave the club but a poor World Cup campaign has resulted in the Bundesliga side failing to find a buyer. PSG opted for Schalke’s Thilo Kehrer while it now looks as though the 29-year-old will remain at the Allianz Arena. There had been reports of a move for Stuttgart’s Benjamin Pavard while it’s surprising that Bayern hadn’t concluded the deal, instead opting to wait until 2019.
Renato Sanches also returns from his Swansea City loan spell.
Prediction: Bayern Munich have the squad to retain the Bundesliga. But to do it for the seventh season running is going to put unnecessary pressure on Bayern Munich and with a poor summer of recruitment in comparison to Borussia Dortmund and Schalke, this is perhaps the best chance for another side to step up and knock the Bavarians off their throne. Even more so given Bayern are yet again undergoing a transitional season with the appointment of a new head coach.
Probable Starting XI – Neuer – Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels, Alaba – Martinez – Robben, Müller, James Rodriguez, Ribery – Lewandowski.
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