Decisions, Decisions: Bayern Munich’s Midfield Dilemma

One of the more surprising transfers of the summer saw Real Madrid’s Xabi Alonso pack his bags and head for the Bavarian giants. On August 30th, the ace midfielder made his Bayern debut. Watching him effortlessly fit into Pep Guardiola’s system was nothing short of brilliant, conducting the pitch as John Williams would an orchestra. Guardiola was soon singing the praises about his genius signing. “We cannot win without Xabi.” While World Cup winner and Bayern legend Bastian Schweinsteiger was on the mend, Pep utilized a midfield combination that consisted of captain Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso. This combo helped guide Bayern to a comfortable lead atop the Bundesliga table and a first place finish in their Champions League group. Schweinsteiger returned from injury in November and things started to get a little sticky. Soon after Philipp Lahm unfortunately broke his ankle during a training session, Pep started to use the Alonso-Schweinsteiger combination and so far the experiment has been wearisome. I’m in the boat that both players are too similar. The problem is that Schweinsteiger is playing out of his preferred position to cater for Alonso. Both are perfect for that deep lying midfielder role. Schweinsteiger was fantastic in the World Cup Final at the deep mid role earning him man of the match honors in the biggest game of his career.

Javi Martinez and Thiago are still on the long road back to full fitness but given their recent injury record, they won’t be rushed back. Lahm is closest to a return as he just started his on the ball training this week, with conservative estimates suggesting another month on the sidelines. It will then get highly interesting with Lahm’s return; when given a clean bill of health, one of these legendary players will be dropped from the starting XI. What a luxury for Bayern’s skipper to have.