Ahead of Manchester United’s trip to face Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League group stage opener, we had a quick Q&A with Dasher from Bavarian Football Works, the SB Nation blog covering all things Bayern Munich.
Big thanks to Dasher and BFW for their time, and we hope you enjoy!
What is your early impression of the addition of Harry Kane?
Well, obviously Harry Kane has had a great impact on our team. He fits in perfectly and has so far fulfilled our need for a #9 from last season and has already shown his class: 4 goals and an assist in 4 league games is an impressive tally keeping in mind he is still adjusting to a new team, league, and spoken language. A pressing question can also be his hefty price tag, which given a player of his caliber, is more than fair. It is too soon to discuss whether or not he’s a good signing, but from what Kane has shown us so far, he’s well on track.
Thomas Tuchel had a reputation for a mostly defensive approach, especially in big games, at Chelsea, have you seen a similar approach at Bayern? Are you a fan of what he’s done so far?
Well, this is a great question. Matter of fact, a lot of the fanbase is divided on Tuchel. I feel that he hasn’t taken a clear defensive approach like at Chelsea but has rather opted for a system that maintains a balance between both attack and defense, based solely on retaining possession.
Aside from these key features, a lot of Tuchel’s tactics depend on the opposition Bayern faces. Another discernible feature we can observe from this season’s games is attacking sequences start from the back, through both center-backs and flow through either the wing (which is when we can see a clear attacking formation with steady advancement of Alphonso Davies and Konrad Laimer) or through the AM (in which case we see systematic overload into the opposition box and rapid advancement of the same aforementioned players).
I am (and will always remain) a fan of a tactical mastermind such as Thomas Tuchel, but I cannot speak for the fanbase who is very bifurcated on their opinion of Tuchel. He’s gone unbeaten in his first four games this season and has shown promise, even though we possess a thin squad and do have holes in the team, such as the lack of a #6. There is a reason as to why he is so highly regarded as a coach, and I believe he will eventually show that at Bayern.
For someone like myself who only casually follows Bundesliga, how would you sum up the difficulties Bayern seem to have experienced since the league and Champions League winning season?
A MASSIVE part of some of the difficulties the last few seasons came from losing Lewandowski to Barcelona as well as Jerome Boateng, Javi Martinez and David Alaba all in quick succession after winning the treble with Hansi Flick, and subsequently the sextuple (2019/20 season). For a lot of Bayern fans, Nagelsmann’s dismissal when it happened was short-sighted. A massive part was just not adequately replacing Lewandowski as he was someone who could guarantee you 30-40 goals per season and take pressure off of the defense.
When you draw a group like this in Europe do you look forward to interesting early matchups or do you prefer the easier groups?
At Bayern, the mentality is always to win – be it an easy or difficult group. However, many people wanted an easier group this time around, to preserve the team for the more difficult later stages of the tournament. Group A is a moderate group with both tough and easy fixtures and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Do you see Bayern as a team capable of winning the Champions League this season?
Bayern are always favorites for winning the Champions League. It is something the club acknowledges and strives to achieve – this season is no different. The fans are expecting a run into the later stages of the competition with the window we’ve had, but it is equally important to address the holes in our squad. Lack of proper depth in some positions and the absence of a #6 (as mentioned earlier) are key issues that – if addressed in the January transfer window – should put Bayern in a position where there are no excuses not to make a deep run in the competition, and maybe even win it.
What’s your current impression of Manchester United heading into the group stage?
Manchester United is obviously a great club that possesses a competitive team, and it has been interesting to watch their growth under the tactical acumen of Erik ten Hag. At the same time, I am aware of United’s very long injury list which includes some key starters that has seen them stutter at times this season. Nonetheless, I expect only the best from such a club and believe they are very much capable of providing us with an entertaining and competitive game.
What is your prediction for the match on Wednesday?
Just like United, Bayern too have stuttered in games. In the end, I think that United, going through a bad run of games, with an extensive injury list and the game being held in Munich will be the decisive factors. I expect a deeply contested 3-1 victory to Bayern.