Bayern Munich look to make it eight consecutive Bundesliga titles in the 2019/20 season. However, Niko Kovac must lead this side further in Europe than a round of 16 exit and improve upon last season’s shaky domestic campaign if he hopes to prove he is the right man to lead the team into the future.
Bayern Munich Season Preview
Niko Kovac, a Man Under Pressure
The 2018/19 season was full of ups and downs for Bayern Munich. Die Roten eventually secured their seventh consecutive Bundesliga title, rounding off their first domestic double since 2016 with a DFB Pokal win as well, but it was not without difficulty.
Niko Kovac found himself under heavy scrutiny all throughout the season, especially after his side’s round of 16 exit to eventual Champions League winners Liverpool. The Croatian is still the man in charge at Sabener Strasse, however. Not only does he have the full backing of his superiors but also a new assistant manager in Hansi Flick.
With the help of Jogi Low’s former assistant, Kovac will need to make some big improvements to his team’s on-field performances to avoid painting a massive target on his back for the German media. This is especially true because Lucien Favre’s Borussia Dortmund are going all in for the Bundesliga title with a whole host of new additions.
In short, Niko Kovac is not going to have it easy winning his second Meisterschale in as many seasons with Bayern Munich.
A Few New Faces, but a Few More Needed
Fortunately, Borussia Dortmund are not the only ones who have made new signings this off-season. Bayern have already made a few key moves, but their summer business is far from done.
World Cup winners Lucas Hernandez (€80 million from Atletico Madrid) and Benjamin Pavard (€35 million from Stuttgart) add some pace, youth, and dynamism to the Bavarian backline. Even with Mats Hummels gone to Dortmund, Bayern’s defensive unit is looking stronger for this season than the last.
It is in attack, however, where Bayern have the most work left to do. The club executives have made no effort to keep secret their pursuit of Manchester City winger Leroy Sane. The Germany international would be the perfect addition to elevate the Bavarian offensive to the next level. The unfortunate timing of the 23-year-old’s anterior cruciate ligament injury means he will not be any help to Bayern until at least January. Though, it is still entirely possible the club tries to purchase him this summer anyway.
After Sane’s injury, the Bavarians quickly turned to Ivan Perisic to add some depth out wide. The 30-year-old does not have the same superstar status as Sane, but he could nevertheless prove an excellent addition.
Bayern will likely sign at least one more player to add depth behind Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry. Steven Bergwijn and Timo Werner, who could also feature as a striker, seem the most likely candidates.
The Bavarians could also use a versatile full-back option with Rafinha no longer in the squad. Defensive midfielder Marc Roca could be on the cards as well. The Spain U21 star would be a great addition with Kovac keen on using the 4-3-3 this season.
Ones to Watch
The most obvious player to watch heading into the 2019/20 season is Robert Lewandowski. Bayern are significantly weaker without their star striker on the pitch. He is perhaps their most important player.
Even if Leroy Sane returns to the Bundesliga, his fellow Germany international Serge Gnabry is another player to keep a close eye on. The former Arsenal forward had a fine debut campaign in Bavaria and could be the club’s breakout star this season.
Thiago Alcantara, meanwhile, is one of the most under-appreciated midfielders in Europe. The 28-year-old is the man who makes this team tick, but Kovac must be wary of using him as a lone defensive midfielder. Bayern’s 2-0 Supercup loss to Dortmund proved exactly why that will not work.
A New Era
Bayern Munich find themselves in the tough situation of wanting to remain successful short-term while ushering in a new era of long-term success. With Borussia Dortmund making a heavy push to compete in Germany this season, Die Roten will have to remain at their absolute best to win another domestic double.
If they succeed in signing Sane for the second half of the season, and perhaps add another young player or two for depth, Bayern should not only feel confident about remaining Germany’s top team, but they should also expect to go far in Europe this season. Of course, that does also hinge on whether or not Niko Kovac can completely lay to rest any doubts that he is the right man to lead this Bayern side into the future.
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